The 2021 Kia Forte’s Manual Transmission Fits It Perfectly

There’s a lot to be excited about with the upcoming 2021 Kia Forte. While the basic underpinnings are pretty much unchanged from the 2020 models, word on the street is that there will be updated styling cues from the new Kia Optima. The 2021 Kia Forte will also offer a manual transmission for both of its engines. 

So has Kia truly made the new Forte more athletic and dynamic? Or are the changes primarily cosmetic? We have all the details.

Under the hood

Kia brought the 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated engine forward for the 2021 Forte models. At 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque, it’s not going to win any races. But there’s also a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine available with the 2021 Kia Forte GT. That engine gets 201 hp with 195 lb-ft of torque.

You get a six-speed manual transmission that, according to MotorTrend, is a good match for the Forte’s sportier vibe. The manual transmission was offered before with the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine. But now, it’s also paired with the standard 2.0-liter engine too. There’s a continuously variable transmission (CVT) option as well that offers smooth driving dynamics.

The underpinnings of the Kia Forte are shared with those of the Hyundai Elantra, so its performance is similar. Unlike the Forte, the 2021 Elantra has a CVT gearbox standard. When compared to peers like the 2020 Hyundai Elantra SE, 2020 Toyota Corolla L, and the 2020 Mazda3, the Forte offers the only standard manual transmission.  

It holds its own against the Elantra and Corolla when it comes to power and torque, second only to the Mazda3 which offers a 2.5-liter inline-four-cylinder engine.

When it comes to speed, the Kia Forte goes from 0 to 60 mph in just eight seconds. It’s second only to the Mazda3 which made went from 0 to 60 mph in just seven seconds.

The Kia Forte’s fuel efficiency

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When it comes to fuel economy, the 2021 Kia Forte is expected to perform well. The powertrain carried forward from 2020 with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with the six-speed manual transmission gets 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. So what this powertrain lacks in athleticism, it definitely makes up for in fuel efficiency.

The CVT transmission option helps but the new manual gearbox makes the difference. The ride has more pep and better matches the sporty outer look of the new Forte.

The new 2021 Kia Forte is even sportier

Kia’s Forte took on a new signature look in its redesign in 2019. The tiger-nose grille is still there, lending the look of the Kia Stinger. The overall design is symmetrical and sleek according to the folks at

How is it changing for 2021? There will be changes made to front and back fascia with new bumpers and fenders for a new lighting scheme. The cues are said to be taken from the recently revealed Kia Optima, which will be renamed the Kia K5 moving forward. The 17-inch alloy wheels stay because they give the Forte a more athletic vibe.

The new 2021 Kia Forte will also offer a trunk lid spoiler, heated outside mirrors, and UV control glass. The new lighting scheme mentioned is the reason that the fenders and bumpers are being re-imagined. There will be projector headlights on the new Kia Forte. It also gets LED headlights with auto-leveling, LED taillights, and daytime running lights.

There’s no firm release date yet, but it’s predicted that Kia will debut it soon. The price will be slightly higher for the 2021 models at $18,000. While there aren’t significant changes to make the bump in price obvious, the 2021 Kia Forte is still a good value for those looking for a new sedan.