The 2022 Kia Forte carries over from last year’s model with a mild styling refresh and some feature updates, having morphed into a new generation just a few short years ago.
These additions include some new driver-assistance technologies, extra items on some trim levels, and a new trim tested here, the GT-Line. It’s the top trim on 2.0L-equipped models, while the next step up is the more powerful turbocharged GT Limited. The GT-Line is $28,495, including a non-negotiable delivery fee of $1,700. My tester had a premium coat of blue paint for $250, bringing it to $28,745 before taxes.
The Forte is a handsome vehicle, and for 2022, all trims get updated styling for its headlights and grille, front and rear bumpers, and new wheels. The new GT-Line includes front red accents, 17-inch wheels, gloss black mirrors, a rear spoiler, and LED fog lights.
The interior is good-looking as well, and the GT-Line features a flat-bottom steering wheel, metal pedals, and bucket seats with faux leather and white stitching. My only issue is the horizontal metallic strip across the dash. It’s stylish, but it easily catches the light on sunny days, and the resulting glare is blinding.
The Forte gets some new driver-assist features for 2022, and all but the base LX come with new blind-spot collision avoidance assist (previously it was just a warning) and lane-follow assist. Those are alongside emergency front braking, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, driver attention alert, and the rearview camera that’s mandatory on all new vehicles. The GT-Line includes adaptive cruise control and highway driving assist.
But the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) only gives the Forte four stars, not the top five, with a safety alert for side crash protection (the rear door hit the rear-seat dummy’s torso). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Forte its highest “Good” rating for crashes, but it doesn’t earn a Top Safety Pick. As for me, I wasn’t impressed with the highway assist, which is supposed to keep the car centred in its lane. It often tends to waver between the lines instead, and the steering wheel subsequently feels unpleasantly squirmy. I mostly used the adaptive cruise control without it.
Kia traditionally stuffs in a lot of items for the price, and that’s the case here. In addition to features from some of the lower trim levels – including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, sunroof, wireless charger, dual-zone automatic climate control, and remote starter – the GT-Line also adds heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, 10-way power driver’s seat, and navigation-equipped 10.25-inch centre touchscreen, up from eight inches on other trims.
User Friendliness: 8.5/10
The Forte’s doors open wide and the GT-Line’s seats are bolstered but not too much, so it’s easy to get in and out. Visibility is good, and the ten-way power seat and tilt-and-telescopic wheel let you find the right position.
The controls are simple, which is always a benefit. The dual-zone climate control uses dials for temperature, and buttons to adjust the fan and vent modes. The centre screen includes volume and tuning dials, and you can tap the screen’s bezel to bring up menus for the navigation, stereo, and other functions. The icons are simple and intuitive, and the radio station number cleverly comes up pictured on old-fashioned radio tubes.
Compared to some of its rivals, the Forte is pretty much on par for front- and rear-seat headroom as the Honda Civic, Mazda3, or Toyota Corolla. Front-seat legroom is also virtually the same as the others at 1,071 mm (42.2 in), but while its 906 mm (35.7 in) of rear legroom is more than the Corolla or Mazda3, the Civic takes all with 949 mm (37.4 in).
But when it’s time to load the trunk, the Forte stands out. The Corolla and Mazda3 have 371 and 373 L of cargo volume, respectively, and the Civic has 419 L, but the Forte comes in at an impressive 433 L of space.
The Forte’s seats are comfortable and supportive, and the upholstery may be faux leather but it does a very good job of mimicking the real thing. Both the seat heating and ventilation have three levels, and the heated steering wheel gets nice and hot on cold mornings. The ride is firm but it’s not unpleasant, and overall, it’s a comfortable little sedan.
Most of the Forte trims, including the GT-Line, use a 2.0L four-cylinder engine that makes 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque, mated to an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT). The GT Limited uses a turbocharged engine making 201 hp and gets a conventional automatic, albeit of the dual-clutch variety.
The base Corolla makes less at 139 hp, but the upper trims, and the Civic and Mazda3, top above the Forte with ranges from 158 to 227 hp. Even so, while the Forte isn’t zippy off the line, the engine is smooth and it’s enough to handle the daily commute.
Driving Feel: 8/10
The Forte’s steering and handling aren’t as sharp as that of the Mazda3 or Civic, but it’s still responsive and agile, and pleasant to drive. A drive mode button lets you switch between normal, sport – which is really just more noise than sportiness – or Smart. That last one automatically switches between modes depending on how you’re driving, such as whether you’re easy or firm on the throttle.
The car takes corners smoothly and feels well-planted on the highway, and the brake pedal is well-modulated for confident stopping.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
The Forte with the 2.0L and CVT is officially rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) at 7.9 L/100 km in the city, 5.9 on the highway, and 7.0 in combined driving. I drove it in cold weather and it returned an impressive 7.4 L/100 km overall, and it runs on regular-grade 87-octane fuel.
The official figures are in line with the competition. Depending on the engine and trim, and not counting its hybrid variant, the Corolla’s combined-driving figure ranges from 6.8 to 7.3 L/100 km. The Civic is rated at 6.9 L/100 km, while the Mazda3, which can be optioned with all-wheel drive, is the thirstiest at between 7.6 and 8.8 L/100 km, depending on its engine.
The Forte starts at $19,995 in base LX trim with a manual transmission. With a CVT, its price ranges from $21,595 to $28,495. The top-level GT Limited, with a turbocharged 1.6L engine, is $31,695 (all prices include delivery).
Including delivery, the Corolla’s non-hybrid trim levels run between $21,170 and $31,025, while the Mazda3 ranges from $22,950 to $34,950. The Civic is the priciest, from $27,070 to $35,450. Perceived value is also important, and between my car’s appearance and its numerous features, it also felt like it was pricier than it was.
Although many consumers have switched to SUVs, there’s still a market for compact cars, and the competition is fierce. The Forte offers a lot of features for its price, and it’s a good-looking car that’s pleasant to drive, but check its rivals for their crash safety ratings when you’re making your decision.
|Peak Horsepower||147 hp @ 6,200 rpm|
|Peak Torque||132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||7.9 / 5.9 / 7.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||433 L|
|Model Tested||2022 Kia Forte GT-Line|
|Price as Tested||$28,845|
$250 – Paint, $250