Sedans & Coupes

The 2021 Kia Forte Lacks a ‘Wow Factor’ but That Shouldn’t Be a Deal Breaker

The 2021 Kia Forte is a budget-conscious small sedan that makes an ideal choice for first-time buyers or those looking for reliable transportation at an affordable price.

Offering a pleasant driving experience, the Forte provides a decent amount of kick for a small sedan. Although dependable, the Forte doesn’t stand out among the competition. The entry-level vehicle just doesn’t have a “wow factor,” according to Kelley Blue Book. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it. The Kia Forte offers excellent value and may just be what you’re looking for in a new car.

Kelley Blue Book’s review of the 2021 Kia Forte

Unlike other manufacturers in the crowded compact sedan class, Kia doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to the 2021 Kia Forte. According to Kelley Blue Book (KBB), the “reasonably priced” entry-level sedan provides a “civilized driving experience.”

The Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Mazda3 lead the segment and are the most popular brands among consumers. The Kia Forte holds its own with standard advanced safety features and a standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone integration. The continuously variable automatic transmission is noted as one of KBB’s favorite features.

The 2021 Kia Forte offers five trim levels, with the FE being the entry-level model with an MSRP of $17,890. This is a great value compared to rivals in the compact sedan segment. The top-of-the-line GT model comes with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Dual exhaust, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a sport-tuned multi-link rear suspension warrant the $23,655 starting price.

KBB did mention that while the quality of Kia vehicles continues to rise, the resale value is “average at best.” 

The Kia Forte is missing a ‘Wow Factor’

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After reviewing the 2021 Kia Forte, KBB stated, “We have no reservations recommending any Kia. The whole lineup is excellent.” They did note, however, that the compact sedan “doesn’t ‘wow’ in any particular area.”

The Forte doesn’t outperform its competitors, with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that only puts out 147 hp with 132 lb-ft. The EPA-estimated fuel economy of 31 mpg city and 41 mpg highway does compensate for the small engine. Although adequate for daily commuting, the Kia Forte isn’t going to win any races.

The fuel-efficient sedan has plenty of room with an impressive 15.3 cubic feet trunk area, which is comparable to others in its class. KBB calls the interior of the Kia Forte “agreeable and unfussy.” The basic cabin layout has several hard plastic pieces with no special standout features.

The dashboard is unobtrusive with circular air vents and a conveniently located touchscreen, and the center armrest is a nice feature that accents the supportive front seats. KBB did notice that the parking brake seemed “quaintly 20th-century.”

As with other features of the 2021 Kia Forte, while nothing grabs hold of your attention, it is an affordable option for a dependable vehicle.

What most people are looking for in a vehicle

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For most people, not having a “wow factor” isn’t an issue, as they primarily want a safe and reliable car. The Forte offers advanced standard safety features that include lane-keeping assistance, driver attention monitoring, and forward-collision mitigation. Included in every Kia vehicle, this gives drivers the peace of mind they are looking for in an entry-level sedan.

Aside from price, comfort is also a deciding factor for drivers. The 2021 Kia Forte offers an adjustable steering wheel, 6-way adjustable seating, power locks and windows, and a 4-speaker Bluetooth compatible audio system. KBB claims the exterior design “would get a thumbs-up from most people for its aesthetics.”

Inside and out, the 2021 Kia Forte provides what most people are looking for in a vehicle.