2021 Kia Forte: A Trim Comparison

2021 kia forte

Kia completely updated the Forte for the 2021 model year. And there’s no doubt that, with this update, the new Forte leaps to the top of the compact car segment, perhaps even becoming the de facto leader.

Buying a Kia Forte

The 2021 Kia Forte has four trims buyers can choose from, and each is packed with features that you might only find on other brands at higher price points.

2021 kia forte rear


The 2021 Kia Forte FE has a starting MSRP of $17,890. At that price, it features a 2L I-4 engine that’s capable of 147 horsepower and has fuel economy ratings of 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. A manual transmission is standard, but you can get a CVT for an additional $900. Important safety features like an 8-inch rear camera display and forward collision-avoidance assist come standard on this base trim level. It also has dual-zone automatic temperature control and, more importantly, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities.

Being a base trim, it only has a mid-tier 4-speaker audio system. Additionally, there are no available package options that buyers can add to the Forte FE.

2021 kia forte int


The 2021 Kia Forte LXS bumps the price up a little bit to $19,390 and includes an upgraded intelligent variable transmission. That improves the Forte’s fuel economy ratings to 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway. Those ratings are also among the highest for any non-hybrid models in this compact car segment.

The exterior also sees minor cosmetic refinements. These include 16-inch machine finish alloy wheels and black gloss sport bumper accents. Inside, the rear seat becomes 60/40 split-folding, and drivers have the addition of a Drive Mode Select system. With this, you can choose between normal, eco, and sport modes depending on your driving style. Each mode optimizes to your selected preferred driving style by modifying transmission shifting points, steering response, and throttle performance.


Further up the line is the 2021 Kia Forte S. This is the first trim to crack the $20K mark, often seen as the peak price for an entry-level car geared at new drivers. With an MSRP of $20,490, buyers will find upgraded cloth sports seats with synthetic leather side bolstering and white stitching. Inside the cabin sees some further upscale refinement with a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Other new tech includes one-proximity keyless entry, push-button start, and a six-speaker stereo.

The exterior of the car adds front fog lights, heated side view mirrors, LED daytime running lights, and LED rear combination lamps. Safety features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and lane change assist.

2021 kia forte gtline


Next is the 2021 Kia Forte EX for $23,090.

As the most expensive Forte, it makes sense that the Forte EX is the most comfortable. Drivers will appreciate the 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, especially on long drives. The interior also features SOFINO leatherette with heated and ventilated front seats, and a sunroof. Other pluses include dual-zone climate control and the addition of two more USB charging ports in the cabin. The interior is also upgraded as well with an eight-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, HD radio, satellite radio, and wireless device charging. Get remote start for an additional $495.


Last on the list is the GT trim. Available for $22,790, it is the second-most expensive option. This sports model features a sports-tuned suspension, dual-exhaust system, LED projector headlights, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and high beam assist. Sports cloth seats are similar to those found in the GT-Line.

2021 kia forte gt

(Images via Kia)