The 2021 Kia Forte is offered in five trim levels; FE, LXS, GT-Line, EX and GT. Other than the GT, all are powered by a 2.0L Inline 4-cylinder engine, which creates 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. The engine features dual continuously variable valve timing, which helps provide responsiveness over a wide range while enhancing fuel economy. The FE trim offers a choice between a 6-speed manual transmission or an intelligent variable transmission, while the LXS, GT-Line and EX come standard with the IVT. The Forte's 2.0L engine paired with the IVT offers a combined fuel efficiency of 35 mpg.
The entry level Forte FE comes nicely equipped for the low starting price. Standard features include an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, 4-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 3.5-inch LCD information display, rearview camera, climate control, remote keyless entry, forward collision avoidance assist, and Lane keep assist.
The LXS trim add 16-inch alloy wheels, black gloss sport bumper accents, chrome exhaust tips, a 60/40 split folding rear seat and Drive Mode Select (DMS), which allows drivers to choose their driving style - Normal, Sport or Comfort.
Moving up to the GT-Line trim, the Forte adds 17-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a 6-speaker audio system, gloss black exterior details, black mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, a sportier grille and sportier side skirts and a lane change assist function.
The EX trim makes the Forte feel almost like a luxury sedan. Standard features include leatherette heated and cooled front seats, 10-way power driver's seat, dual USB charging ports, smart key with push-button start and Smart Trunk. The Smart Trunk feature allows you to stand behind the vehicle with your key and the trunk will automatically open. Additional options include a Harman/Kardon premium audio system, navigation, power sunroof, rear spoiler, smart cruise control and wireless charging.
The GT trim costs about the same as the EX, but actually removes some of the more upscale features of that model in exchange for a more powerful engine, a 1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder making a stout 201 horsepower. Rather than the fuel efficient but not particularly sporty IVT transmission, the GT gets a dual clutch 7-speed as standard, which can snap off shifts in the blink of an eye. A 6-speed manual is optional. Despite having fewer luxury features than the EX, an optional GT2 package includes a ton of high tech features, such as the Harman/Kardon stereo, a power sunroof, heated and cooled seats, park distance control, blind spot warning, smart cruise control and more.
The Kia Forte puts a high priority on safety and includes many passive and active safety features. Safety features include a suite of airbags, anti-lock brakes with 4-wheel disc brakes, hill start assist, brake assist system, traction control system and electronic stability control.