This Ignored Kia Car Crushes the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic in Value

Two models immediately come to mind when you think of popular compact cars – the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. But don’t be too quick to make one of these rides your next commuter vehicle. An overlooked Kia might just outshine its competitors.

The 2021 Kia Forte puts up a surprisingly good fight against the traditional segment leaders. We’ll break down just what the affordable Forte has to offer and why it might be better to take the road less traveled.

The 2021 Kia Forte earned the industry’s respect the hard way

A red 2021 Kia Forte parked next to an artsy green wall
The 2021 Kia Forte on display | Kia

Many shoppers purchase their next vehicle based on assumptions. For example, they might buy into the stereotype that all Hondas and Toyotas are dependable.

That’s why some cars are consistently popular based on reputation, regardless if it’s a good or bad model year. However, the automotive industry frequently changes, and there are new contenders for best in class every year.

While the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic have consistently been class leaders, the gap isn’t as wide as it once was. Kia has recently become one of the most respected brands on the market, and its models are finally gaining positive recognition.

The 2021 Kia Forte is no exception. Despite being of the South Korean automaker’s smallest vehicles, it’s surprisingly big on value. In fact, the U.S. News & World Report gave the Forte its ‘Best Compact Car for the Money’ award.

How much does a new 2021 Kia Forte cost?

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Kia priced its compact car’s base model at just $17,890, making it the least-expensive compact car of 2021. That’s $2,135 less than the starting price of the 2021 Toyota Corolla and $3,360 less than the 2021 Honda Civic.

Shoppers will gain more features as they go up in trim level, but the car’s price never becomes too steep. But best of all, you can get a fully-loaded 2021 Kia Forte for just a couple thousand more than it costs to buy an entry-level model of one of its competitors.

Does Kia give you impressive features for the money?

A look at the interior of the 2021 Kia Forte GT
The 2021 Kia Forte GT’s interior | Kia

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Yes, the 2021 Forte is exceptionally well-equipped for its price.

It comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 147 hp. However, it’s paired with a six-speed manual transmission. So, you’ll have to pay $900 to upgrade to an automatic. Doing so is well worth the cost, as it increased the car’s EPA-estimated fuel-economy rating from 31 MPG city/highway combined to 35 MPG.

The mid-level GT-Line adds a sporty flair to the 2021 Kia Forte’s design, and it only has a starting MSRP of $20,490. 

Meanwhile, Kia offers three well-equipped trim levels – the EX, GT, and GT Manual. The EX ($23,090 MSRP) is loaded with amenities like a navigation system, leatherette upholstery, and wireless charging.

Meanwhile, the GT trim ($22,790 MSRP) swaps out the base engine for an energetic 201-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. As you’d expect, the GT Manual ($23,390) features a stick shift, but that’s not all. It also includes rear parking sensors and many of the EX’s upscale features.

Where do the 2021 Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic fall short?

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The Corolla and Civic are downright expensive compared to the 2021 Kia Forte. After all, this is a commuter car segment, and many buyers just want a reliable, fuel-efficient car.

So while both models certainly have a lot to offer, they don’t precisely meet consumer needs. 

For example, non-hybrid 2021 Toyota Corolla models can’t match the Forte’s fuel-economy rating, maxing out at an EPA-estimated 34 MPG combined. Notably, the Civic has some mid-tier trims that achieve an EPA-estimated 36 MPG combined. But you’ll have to pay around $24,400 to get this level of performance.

You’d also think the 2021 Toyota Corolla and 2021 Honda Civic offers a more plush interior for the money. But these models even come up short in some aspects.

The 2021 Kia Forte has a standard eight-inch touchscreen. Meanwhile, the Civic only comes standard with a five-inch display and upper trims max out at seven inches.

Plus, the Corolla has a relatively small trunk, coming in at just 13.1 cubic feet. The Forte’s cargo area is much more versatile, measuring 15.3 cubic feet.

The final verdict: The 2021 Kia Forte wins by a mile

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The 2021 Kia Forte’s value captivated the reviewers of the U.S. News. The publication stated that “The Forte is a lot of car for a low price.”

So, even though the Corolla and Civic hold several advantages over the Forte, these models still might not be the wisest purchase.

Kia’s stellar warranty might seal the deal for many shoppers. Its 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty is one of the best in the business. Meanwhile, Honda and Toyota only offer five years/ 60,000 miles of coverage.

All-in-all, you’re bound to save a lot of money by choosing the 2021 Kia Forte over its more popular competitors.