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Vehicle Comparison Highlights:

  • The new Civic brings a refined interior and excellent ride
  • The Kia Forte’s engine is something of a letdown
  • Honda’s Civic Si is a better Forte GT competitor

Honda has long been the darling of the compact sedan segment. If Miata is the answer for small sports cars, then the 2022 Honda Civic must be the answer for compacts, right? Right? In a lot of ways, it could be. But, the 2021 Kia Forte is a strong competitor, and on paper, it looks to have been built to undercut the mighty Civic. Let’s discuss.

2022 Honda Civic2021 Kia Forte
Price Range$21,900-$28,500$19,090-$23,785
Engine Options1.5L Turbocharged 4-cyl.
2.0L N/A DOHC 4-cyl.
1.6L turbocharged 4-cyl.
2.0L N/A DOHC 4-cyl.
Horsepower158 hp/174 hp147 hp/201 hp
Torque138 lb-ft/162 lb-ft142 lb-ft/195 lb-ft
TransmissionCVT Automatic
6-speed manual
Dual-clutch automatic transmission
6-speed manual
MPG Rating (City/HWY/Comb) 31/40/35 (2.0L)
33/42/36 (1.5L)
31/41/35 (2.0L)
27/35/30 (1.6L)
IIHS Safety RatingTop Safety Pick+Top Safety Pick
NHTSA Safety Rating5 Stars5 Stars

2022 Honda Civic

A red 2022 Honda Civic sedan shot from the 3/4 angle at a roll on a city street
The Civic is all-new for 2022 | Honda
  • Pros: Manual transmission, incredible interior, excellent ride
  • Cons: Top trims are slower than the Forte GT, best features saved for Touring and EX models

We’ll start with the newest iteration of the Civic. For 2022, Honda’s newest, is well, new. That means the Civic’s interior, styling, and a great many other things are totally refreshed. The Forte, on the other hand, has been around for a few years. From the out, the 2022 Honda Civic feels fresher. For 2022 the stick shift also returns but is only on the Civic hatch, which commands a small $1,000 premium over the sedan.

If it’s our money, we’re opting for the turbocharged 1.5L motor with the hatchback. That configuration will start around $25,115 for the Sport hatch and includes features like Android Auto, Carplay, and a few driver assists like lane-departure warning. However, the fast Civic is best reserved for the Civic Si with a stick.

2021 Kia Forte

A red 2021 Kia Forte shot from the front 3/4 on a gravel road
The 2021 Forte | Kia
  • Pros: Peppy GT trim offers a stick, excellent standard features
  • Cons: Base trim level gets a weak motor, not as refined as the Civic

While the 2022 Honda Civic goes from strength to strength, the 2021 Kia Forte muddies the water a little for the compact sedan. Throughout the model range, Forte GT included, the Kia compact sedan is cheaper than the Civic. There’s also a manual transmission and more horsepower for the top-tier Kia Forte GT. That said, the GT is more a competitor to the Civic Si than anything. As for the lower trims, the 2021 Kia Forte is still a solid competitor to the Civic.

However, unlike the Civic, there’s no hatch option here. While that does cut practicality, it also cuts price, the main objective of the baser Forte models. Unfortunately, the lesser 147 hp motor is a little asthmatic. Really, if you want the best Kia Forte experience, you’re paying $24,385 for a stick-shift GT ($23,785 for the dual-clutch).

Which compact sedan is right for you?

A red 2021 Kia Forte compact sedan shot from the 3/4 angle on a back road
For 2021 the Forte gets an update | Kia

That said, our pick here is, perhaps surprisingly, the 2022 Honda Civic. Unfortunately, the 2021 Kia Forte GT competes too well with the Civic Si to be considered a real winner here. And, at $25,115, the Civic we’d pick is easily worth the small premium. Simply put the ride, interior, and handling dynamics are more refined, making it the winner of this comparison.


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