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2020 Kia Forte Review

The 2020 Kia Forte has plenty of standard features, ample trunk space, and good fuel economy. For these reasons and more, it ranks well among compact cars.

Pros & Cons

  • Lots of standard features
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Comfortable, spacious seats
  • Sizable trunk for the class
  • Good gas mileage
  • Mediocre power from base engine
  • Somewhat harsh ride

Rankings & Awards

The 2020 Kia Forte's #4 ranking is based on its score within the Compact Cars category. It was the winner of our 2020 Best Compact Car for the Money award. Currently the Kia Forte has a score of 8.3 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 24 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 9.5
Performance: 7.3
Interior: 7.8
Safety: 9.5
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Kia Forte?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

Is the Kia Forte a Good Car?

Yes, the 2020 Forte is an excellent car. This Kia gets you a lot for a little; it has loads of standard tech and safety features and one of the lowest starting prices in the segment. Its upscale and well-made cabin is a pleasant place for long-distance travel. The Forte offers the best overall combination of quality and value in its class, which is why we named it our 2020 Best Compact Car for the Money.

The Forte has comfortable seats, a well-designed dashboard, and an intuitive infotainment system. Add in an outstanding amount of trunk space for the class and a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating, and it’s easy to see why the Forte is one of the best compact cars around.

Should I Buy the Kia Forte?

With a low base price and tons of appealing standard features, the Forte is a great value in the highly competitive compact car class. It touts a user-friendly infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Forte also offers a number of standard safety features like lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and driver attention monitoring. Equipping a rival like the Honda Civic or Hyundai Elantra with those features would cost thousands of dollars more.

Compare the Forte, Civic, and Elantra »

Should I Buy a New or Used Kia Forte?

Kia fully redesigned the Forte for the 2019 model year. For 2020, the only major changes were the addition of two new trims, the GT and GT-Line. The GT trim adds a stronger engine and some performance-focused features. The GT-Line mimics the GT’s styling elements, but it doesn’t have the performance upgrades. The S trim was discontinued for 2020.  

Although you could save a lot of money by purchasing an older used model instead of a new Forte, you'll miss out on the benefits of the 2019 redesign. These upgrades include revamped interior and exterior styling, as well as a standard touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The new generation of the Forte also has more rear legroom and more cargo space than the previous one. For the new generation, however, Kia did away with the hatchback Forte5 model and introduced a continuously variable automatic transmission.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Forte »

We Did the Research for You: 24 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 24 Kia Forte reviews, as well as fuel economy ratings, performance specs, interior dimensions, and more, to give you all the information you need to make a smart car-buying decision.

This review uses applicable research and data from current Forte  generation, which began with the 2019 model.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Kia Forte Cost?

The 2020 Kia Forte starts at $17,890, which is on the lower end of starting prices in the class. The range-topping Forte GT starts at $22,490.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia Forte Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Kia Forte or Honda Civic?

Both the Honda Civic and Forte are high-ranking compact cars. The Honda costs a couple thousand dollars more, but it has a nicer cabin, sharper handling, and stronger engine options than the Kia. The Forte, on the other hand, is the better value. While you have to pay extra for a Civic with a touch-screen infotainment system that includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the Forte has it as standard equipment. Additionally, the Forte has a better predicted reliability rating than the Civic. Choose the Forte if you want more bang for your buck, or pick the Civic if performance is a priority.

Which Is Better: Kia Forte or Hyundai Elantra?

The Hyundai Elantra is a decent car with an above-average predicted reliability rating, but the Forte is the winner in this comparison. The Elantra is more affordable than most rivals, including the Forte, but it comes with fewer features. These cars are similar in handling and cabin quality, but the Forte’s longer list of features means you get more for your money. While the Elantra does have three engine options, none are particularly peppy.

Compare the Forte, Civic, and Elantra »

Forte Interior

How Many People Does the Forte Seat?

The Kia Forte seats five people. Cloth seats and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel come standard. Synthetic leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, Sofino sport seats, and heated and ventilated front seats are optional.

The Forte’s seats are comfortable and supportive, with the front seats providing long-term comfort. Back-seat space is good for a pair of adults. The available sport seats elevate passenger comfort and provide excellent bolstering for when you take this Kia around turns.

Forte and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Forte's LATCH system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for ease of use. The lower anchors are set deeply in the seats, but there aren't any other major hang-ups.

Forte Interior Quality

The Kia Forte has a rather attractive cabin made with quality materials. The dashboard’s nicely designed vents and buttons add to the interior's appeal. 

Forte Cargo Space

At 15.3 cubic feet, the 2020 Forte has one of the largest trunks among sedans in this class. A split-folding rear seat comes in all models but the base trim. The Forte's available hands-free power trunk comes in handy. It pops open when you stand behind the car with the smart key in your pocket or purse.

Forte Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The 2020 Forte comes packed with standard tech features, including an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system with a four-speaker stereo, a USB port, and Bluetooth. Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration further sweeten the deal. 

The user-friendly touch screen is easy for the driver to see and access, and it responds quickly to user inputs. There are also clearly labeled physical buttons and knobs to adjust audio and climate settings.

Optional features include remote start, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, a sunroof, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a six-speaker stereo, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound stereo, satellite radio, two additional USB ports, HD Radio, and wireless device charging.

Read more about interior »

Forte Performance

Forte Engine: Sufficient in the City

The Forte is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 147 horsepower. The base model's powertrain features a six-speed manual transmission. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional in that trim and standard in higher models. Critics praise the Forte's CVT for its responsiveness.

The new-for-2020 Forte GT features a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 201 horsepower. It has a standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and or you can opt for a six-speed manual gearbox.

While some automotive journalists say the Forte has decent acceleration with its base engine, others find it to be sluggish. If you drive locally most of the time, the Forte should be sufficient. However, models with the optional turbocharged engine offer faster acceleration and feel better-suited for highway passing and merging.

Forte Gas Mileage: Good on Gas

The base Forte has good gas mileage with either transmission. With the standard six-speed manual gearbox, the Forte returns fuel economy estimates of 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. It gets up to 31/41 mpg city/highway with the CVT.

The Forte GT gets 27/35 mpg with the automatic transmission and 25/32 mpg with the manual transmission.

Forte Ride and Handling: Opposing Opinions

Critics' opinions vary when it comes to the Forte’s handling. While some agree that it has a firm ride and vague steering, others are pleased with its agility. The GT trim features some performance-enhancing upgrades like a multi-link suspension, improved brakes, and sport wheels.

Read more about performance »

Forte Reliability

Is the Kia Forte Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2020 Kia Forte a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five.

Kia Forte Warranty

Kia covers the Forte with a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. That's among the best coverage you can get from any automaker.

Read more about reliability »

How Much Does It Cost to Insure a Kia Forte?

The cost of insuring a Kia Forte will depend on a variety of factors, including your deductible, the level of coverage that you want, and the type of insurance that you choose. Your age, gender, location, credit score, and driving record can also have an impact on your insurance rates. Check out our car insurance guide to find the best policy for you.

Forte Safety

Forte Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 Forte an overall rating of four out of five stars. It earned four stars in frontal crash and rollover tests and five stars in the side crash test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2020 Forte the highest rating of Good in six crash tests. The Forte earned the highest rating of Superior for the effectiveness of its front crash prevention features.

The IIHS gave the Forte's standard headlights the lowest rating of Poor for how well they illuminate the road ahead. Optional upgraded headlights earned the highest score of Good.

Forte Safety Features

The 2020 Forte comes with a good amount of standard safety technology. Along with a rearview camera, it features lane departure warning, lane keep assist, a driver attention and drowsiness monitor, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

To get most of the other driver assistance features in the Forte, you'll have to upgrade to the highest trim and, in some cases, purchase an additional package. These optional amenities include adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, reverse parking sensors, pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise control.

Read more about safety »

Kia Forte Dimensions and Weight

The Kia Forte is nearly 15.25 feet. Its curb weight ranges from 2,707 to 2,908 pounds, and its gross vehicle weight rating is between 3,638 to 3,079 pounds.

Where Is the Kia Forte Built?

Kia builds the 2020 Forte in South Korea and Mexico.

Which Kia Forte Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Kia Forte is available in five trims: FE, LXS, GT-Line, EX, and GT. All models have a four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive.

The base Forte FE is an excellent value. It comes with an easy-to-use touch-screen infotainment system and smartphone integration, and it has a fair amount of advanced safety technologies. The LXS trim doesn’t add much more than the FE trim, so we recommend skipping it.

The GT-Line trim adds a few more comfort and safety features, as well as some styling elements from the GT trim like a flat-bottom steering wheel, metal pedals, and a black grill with red accents. It also adds seating enhancements and a few more pieces of technology, including extra-comfortable sport seats and push-button start. The top-level Forte GT, is best for those who want to get the most out of the Forte’s performance. It features a more-powerful engine, an upgraded suspension, and a dual-clutch automatic transmission. That said, it loses some of the comfort features offered in the EX trim.

Kia Forte FE

The 2020 Kia Forte comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. Pricing starts at $17,890. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional for $900.

Standard features include cloth seating, and an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system with a four-speaker stereo, a USB port, Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. Standard driver assistance and active safety features include a rearview camera, driver attention monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. 

Kia Forte LXS

The Forte LXS (MSRP $19,290) comes with a CVT, alloy wheels, and a split-folding rear seat. Remote start is optional for $495.

Kia Forte GT-Line

The new-for-2020 Forte GT-Line starts at $20,490. It adds fog lights, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, a power-adjustable and heated side mirror, sport cloth seats with synthetic leather side bolstering and contrast stitching, a leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel, two additional speakers, and push-button start.

The GT-Line trim also comes with lane change assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Kia Forte EX

The Kia Forte EX (MSRP $22,090) adds a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support, heated and ventilated front sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, two additional USB chargers, UVO eServices, and trim-specific badges.

Kia Forte GT

The Forte GT (MSRP $22,490) is the second new trim for the 2020 model year. It comes with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 201 horsepower and is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Aside from the base model, the GT is the only trim available with the six-speed manual transmission. The manual transmission GT costs $600 extra.

The GT comes with a sport-tuned multi-link rear suspension, dual exhaust, LED projector headlights, ambient lighting, six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and high beam assist. The GT is the only Forte model available with parking distance warning and adaptive cruise control.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

See 2020 Kia Forte specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Kia Forte is much more than just a sensible car with a lower starting price than most of its rivals. It’s also a top pick in the compact car class, with its generous list of standard features, good fuel economy, and upscale cabin. It's also spacious and comfortable inside. However, some critics complain about its harsh ride and underwhelming power from the base engine.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Kia put forth a solid effort with the new Forte. It's refreshing to see this at a time when many others are treating sedans as second fiddle to their crossover lineups. There's no doubt that the Forte is still in its weird happy medium of not necessarily being the best at one particular thing. At the same time though, this complete redesign brings it dangerously close to the top of its commuter car competition." -- Autoweek (2019)
  • "In short, the Kia Forte has grown up. It’s more refined and sportier, while boasting more tech. It’s also more fuel efficient. And in addition to having a generous amount of safety and infotainment technology, the new Forte has been made more attractive with some styling cues taken from the Kia Stinger sport sedan." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • "On top of its value proposition, its combination of style, respectable handling, excellent ride comfort and tech position the new Forte well to play to wide audience. Nobody should be surprised if it continues to be Kia's best seller." -- CNET (2019)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: July 23, 2020

Declining  Sales: The highly-ranked Kia Forte sits in the middle of the compact car class in sales. ales have fallen in 2020 by 18.5 percent compared with the same period last year. The Forte is far behind the class sales-leading Honda Civic, which is outselling it by more than 3 to 1.

Research more buying advice »
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2020 Kia Forte

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