In the past having a new budget car meant you were going back to basics. That is no longer the case. Now, every high volume manufacture offers economical vehicles that look good, are technologically advanced and provide great fuel economy. Redesigned in 2019 the Kia Forte is one of the most compelling small sedans around. Much of that appeal stems from the car’s value. At the top of the ladder is the new Forte GT, which ups the performance quotient at a lower price than other sporty small sedans. Styling of the Forte GT is inspired by the Stinger sports sedan, it is certainly not a Stinger, but the Forte GT is a great little small car at a low entry point.
The turbocharged Forte GT which we tested puts out a respectable 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque from its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. The Forte offers a comfortable and stable ride, but the handling is not as exciting as its Stinger-inspired exterior styling would suggest. The peppy GT comes with either a six-speed manual or with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (in our test vehicle) the DCT provides a combined fuel economy of 30 mpg which we consider respectable judging by other cars in its class.
The GT does include sporty upgrades such as a fully independent rear suspension, larger front brakes and dual exhaust pipes. It also adds LED headlights, automatic high-beam control, ambient interior lighting, rear air vents, two USB charging ports and satellite radio. Models with the dual-clutch transmission also get shift paddles. The GT-Line also includes a sports steering wheel, and a sports inspired interior. The GT’s GT2 package ($2,200) adds on a whole host of safety options like blind spot monitoring, collision avoidance, parking warning, rear cross traffic warning. It also includes interior improvements such as a premium Harman/Kardon stereo, power adjustable drivers seat, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless phone charger and a power sunroof and sunshade.
Unlike rivals such as the Honda Civic, Mazda 3, and Subaru Impreza, the Forte is offered only as a four-door sedan, while the Forte offers some features these cars don’t you will find it comes up a little short on refinement. However the interior of this car impressed us with its minimalist design and high-quality and upscale materials. The back seat is spacious enough for two adults to be comfortable, and long road trips in the Forte GT can be made without complaint.
For the price point, the 2020 Forte is a great deal when looking at the technology available, even down to the base model. Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay all come standard on all trim levels. An 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard.
The 2020 Forte received a four-star rating out of five from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named it a Top Safety Pick+ for 2019. Kia also offers a handful of standard and optional driver-assistance features as well such as forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.
The Forte was the top-ranked car in its class in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS), Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout Study (APEAL), and U.S. Tech Experience Index Study. Combine that with Kia‘s powertrain warranty that sets it apart from most other manufacturers with a Limited warranty of 5 years or 60,000 miles and a powertrain warranty of 10 years or 100,000 miles. These are powerful endorsements for this well equipped car.
Around town, where most people drive most of the time, the Forte’s size help to negotiate busy city streets while the turbocharged torque allows it to slip in and out of holes in traffic. The sport-tuned suspension is a bit stiff over bumps, but the multi-link rear components are definitely worth the compromise. For this review our Kia Forte GT came in at $26,485, including the $965 destination charge. Overall, we think the 2020 Forte GT is an excellent small sedan and recommend it to anyone who desires a tech-heavy small car without a sky-high price tag for the daily commute.