2021 Forte New Car Test Drive
The 2020 Kia Forte deserves more praise than it gets. Kia has transferred the racy styling of its sleek Stinger to the humble Forte, making it look upscale. The cabin is a cut above your average compact car, with excellent material quality and great standard technology. And with fantastic gas mileage, standard automatic emergency braking, and a strong warranty, it's a lot of car for the money.
For 2020 the Forte gets two new models, the GT and GT-Line. The GT is the sporty one, with a 201-horsepower turbo-4, dual-clutch transmission, and sport-tuned rear suspension and exhaust. The GT-Line has styling that makes it look sportier than it is. There's also a new EX Special Edition package that adds some unique features and trim.
The standard inline-4 engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT) are adequate for an economy car, with 147 horsepower, but the drivetrain won't win awards for refinement. The firm steering generates some feedback, and the ride is decently damped.
The base FE model with CVT is a fuel-economy star, EPA-rated at 31 mpg city, 41 highway, 35 combined. With a manual transmission it gets significantly less, 27/37/31 mpg.The LXS and EX models manage 29/40/33 mpg, with the CVT.
With 50 more horsepower, and the dual-clutch transmission, the new GT gets 27/35/30 mpg; with the manual transmission it drops to 25/32/28 mpg, on regular fuel.
The NHTSA gives the Forte only 4 stars overall in crash tests, with three stars for the front passenger side and a footnote about rear passenger side crash safety despite a five-star score in that category. Those results are inconsistent with the IIHS's testing, which saw fit to award the 2019 Forte a Top Safety Pick award for 'Good'? scores all around and great standard front crash prevention tech.
Standard active safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings with active lane control, and driver attention warnings. The other models add blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and rear parking sensors. On the GT, however, those features are optional.
The base 2020 Kia Forte FE costs less than $19,000 including a $925 destination charge, with a 6-speed manual transmission. With the CVT it's $900 more. Standard equipment includes a full suite of active safety equipment, an 8.0-inch infotainment screen with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and multiple USB ports.
For just a few hundred more dollars, the LXS with nicer styling adds 16-inch alloy wheels, split-folding rear seats, soft touch door panels, and a drive mode selector.
For $21,315 the new GT-Line adds 17-inch wheels, black trim accents, LED daytime running lights and taillights, a flat-bottom steering wheel, keyless ignition, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts.
For $22,915 the EX is the relative luxury model, adding heated and cooled front seats with synthetic leather upholstery, a power driver's seat, LED lighting inside and out, and more.
Finally there's the new GT for $23,815. It has a 201-horsepower turbo-4 engine and standard 6-speed manual transmission, with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic available for $400. It also has a sport suspension and exhaust, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with automatic high beams, and unique interior trim.
Kia's excellent warranty covers the Rio for 5 years/60,000 miles, and the powertrain for 10 years/100,000 miles.