In January 2018, the newest Kia Forte redesign was introduced as a compact sedan at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It went on sale in the U.S. in the fall of 2018 for the 2019 model year. This third-generation Forte shares styling cues with the Stinger, Kia’s midsize liftback sports sedan. As part of Kia’s redesign efforts, the new Forte has one of the most comfortable interiors of any compact sedan on the market today. This and more makes it a great value buy for those on a budget who want comfort.
A Stinger-inspired design with a starting MSRP of $17,890
You read that right. The Stinger inspired the new refreshed design of the 2021 Forte — it looks every bit the part, too. The most notable Stinger-like features can be seen in its fastback exterior profile, resulting in a long front hood and shorter rear trunk lid. This model is built using 54-percent advanced high-strength steel, making it stronger and tougher than previous generations.
However, it’s not just the exterior of the Forte that resembles the Stinger. Additional styling cues can be found within the interior, such as the round HVAC vents and the infotainment system’s “floating” center display touchscreen. To put it in simple terms, it’s as if Kia intended to establish the Forte as the smaller sibling of the Stinger with a different name.
Not surprisingly, German automobile designer Peter Schreyer, the chief designer of the Kia Stinger, designed the new Forte. What is important to know about Schreyer is that he also designed the Audi TT.
Will buyers be satisfied with the interior of the 2021 Kia Forte?
If you can’t tell from our articles, we’ve favored the Forte over similar models such as the Hyundai Elantra. This is because Kia packs a lot of interior value and comfort into a compact, sporty package. Not just that, but it looks dang good on the outside. The Forte model’s exterior and interior styling was revamped in 2019. In a review published by U.S. News of the “12 Most Comfortable Cars in 2021,” the author wrote: “The Kia Forte blends a host of modern tech features into a handsome, contemporary cabin.”
Every 2021 Kia Forte comes with an eight-inch color touch-screen display infotainment system. It’s powered by UVO eServices, a subscription-free OEM infotainment and telematics amenity provided by Kia. Only available in the U.S., UVO provides you with a point of interest (POI) navigation and allows you to stream music as well as make hands-free calls via your smartphone. Previously, this kind of technology was only available in higher-priced vehicles.
According to the Kia website, its base model, the 2021 Forte FE, is priced at just under $18,000. It comes standard with awesome features that include a super fuel-efficient 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque; solar controlled glass helps decrease heat buildup, preventing interior material damage; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, among an extremely long list of other things.
Standard driver-assist technology includes electronic stability control (ESC), driver attention warning (DAW), lane-keeping assist-line (LKA-L), lane departure warning (LDW), and auto emergency braking technology. Some comfort features that come standard include cruise control with steering wheel controls, steering wheel-mounted audio system controls, rear-seat heat ducts, dual-zone automatic temperature controls, a tilt and telescopic steering column, and automatic front headlights.
Besides the FE, there are five other trims, two of which are performance models: the LXS (MSRP $19,390), the GT-Line (MSRP $20,490), the EX (MSRP $23,090), the high-performance GT (MSRP $22,790), and the high-performance GT Manual (MSRP $23,390). According to the Kia website, the GT trims have sporty standard features like a sport-tuned suspension, dual exhaust, GT leather-wrapped flat-bottom sport steering wheel, alloy sport pedals, and 18-inch alloy wheels. That’s not bad for under $24,000, don’t you say?
Every trim except for the GT and GT Manual comes standard with a 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder engine. As for the GT and GT Manual, these models are powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter, inline four-cylinder engine. While only the Forte FE comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission, all other trims, excluding the GT performance models, have a Kia-designed Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT). IVTs are allegedly an improvement to the traditional Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT). The GT trim is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters for higher performance driving.