• 2022 Kia Forte GT Review: An Affordable, Fun-to-Drive Car

Value and Performance are its Strong Suit

So, you want something fun to drive but don’t want to spend a lot of money. Getting a car that meets those criteria isn’t easy these days. Oh, and if you want it to be fuel-efficient, spacious and loaded? Good luck. And that’s exactly why this new Kia Forte GT jumps off the page.

  • 2022 Kia Forte GT Review: An Affordable, Fun-to-Drive Car
  • Year:
    2022
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    AM-S7
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    201 @ 6000
  • MPG(Cty):
    27
  • MPG(Hwy):
    35
  • Torque @ RPM:
    195 @ 1500
  • Energy:
    SIDI
  • Displacement:
    1.6 L
  • Layout:
    Front
  • Price:
    24585

For the first time since its complete redesign for the 2019 model year, the Forte exits the plastic surgeon’s office with a tighter, more athletic body, a nose job, and some fresh features on the inside. And this one is the performance model – the GT - which goes turbo including a sport-tune for its independent rear suspension riding atop larger 18” wheels. It’s also more vociferous thanks to an orchestrated dual exhaust. Starting MSRP is $24,585 with this fully-loaded model topping out at an economical $26,940. That includes the GT2 Package priced at $2,200, bundling all the good stuff such as:

  • a power driver’s seat
  • a new electronic parking brake with the coveted Auto Hold feature that gives your leg a rest at long stop lights
  • heated and ventilated seats
  • a sunroof
  • an amazing Harman Kardon 8-speaker stereo system with Clari-Fi compressed music restoration technology
  • navigation-based Smart Cruise Control that knowingly slows the car when the road starts to curve
  • attractive sport seats that upgrade the standard cloth inserts with a leather-like synthetic material
  • LED interior lighting
  • Additional driver assistance features.

VALUE IS THE GT’S FORTE

2022 Kia Forte GT Review: An Affordable, Fun-to-Drive Car Exterior
- image 1087894

With the average new-vehicle transaction price now over $45,000 it’s really refreshing to see such a complete offering as this Forte GT for only $27,000. Performance, efficiency, roominess, dependability not to mention loaded with features; this Kia feels like a steal. I know; traditional cars aren’t exactly popular these days, but for those who are still fending off SUVs and want something that’s fun to drive everyday but isn’t going to leave you destitute the search can stop right here.

It looks sharp and drives even better. 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque have never felt this good. Think of the Forte GT as a roomier, detuned Jetta GLI with $6,600 in cost savings. And it shouldn’t be overlooked that Kia ranks #1 in dependability while Volkswagen is, well, much farther down the list.

DUAL CLUTCH OR STICK SHIFT?

2022 Kia Forte GT Review: An Affordable, Fun-to-Drive Car Interior
- image 1087895

The GT gets a horsepower boost from a 1.6-liter turbo and a more engaging drive from a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Want a stick shift? That’s available too for an extra $1,000 and that model also gets top-of-the-line Michelin high-performance tires. But still, this car feels great; put it in Sport mode and find your favorite road and the GT rewards you with crisp shifts, high energy, and a blatty exhaust note. The sport-tuned, fully independent suspension and these grand-touring tires perform above their paygrade with an impressive surefootedness. I love how buttoned-down it feels with a steering wheel that fosters a close connection between car and driver. It has that point-and-shoot thing going for it that’s a lot of fun. In normal mode, the GT is a bit more relaxed but the transmission can feel a little odd if you’re not used to a dual-clutch and these tires are loud.

A DCT (dual clutch) transmission mimics the characteristics of a manual. The gear shifts are faster making it an ideal candidate for using the steering wheel paddles during spirited driving with no clutch pedal required. It’s also a more fuel-efficient gearbox. This GT is rated at 30 mpg on regular while the GT manual only nets 26 mpg. But a DCT isn’t as smooth as a traditional torque converter automatic and thus you might be turned off by its sometimes-hesitant operation in slow, city driving.

THE SPORTS SEDAN FOR EVERYONE

2022 Kia Forte GT Review: An Affordable, Fun-to-Drive Car Exterior
- image 1087901

That aside, the Forte GT does everything right. From the perfectly-sized and tactile steering wheel to the supportive but not suffocating sport seats; it’s a very welcoming helm. And unlike most sporty front-drive cars understeer is minimal so the GT is imbued with the vibe of a premium sports sedan while the turbo boost is smoothly poured out adding to driving precision. It’s also light on its feet, nimble, and surprisingly forthcoming with its modest power. As for it being an everyday driver? Absolutely. With up to 35 mpg highway, a midsize proportioned rear seat, ample trunk, and all of the aforementioned amenities the Forte GT is an expert at multiple duties. Yes; these Kumhos are noisy so highway travel, in particular, gets dinged but nothing out of bounds for a shopper seeking a performance model.

STILL NO WIRELESS CARPLAY

2022 Kia Forte GT Review: An Affordable, Fun-to-Drive Car Interior
- image 1087898

Just like in my Kona, the cool Nixie tubes that the company has been using for the radio display have gone away, replaced with station info and SiriusXM graphics. And being experienced with Hyundai/Kia’s range-topping infotainment system I can assuredly endorse it for both its breadth of features and ease of use. However, the nagging issue of it not supporting wireless phone projection while the smaller, base touchscreen does is a problem that really needs addressing.

A FULLY LOADED EXPERIENCE

2022 Kia Forte GT Review: An Affordable, Fun-to-Drive Car Interior
- image 1087908

With a wireless device charge pad, Smart Trunk that doesn’t require a kick of the foot to open, nominal ambient red cabin lighting, Normal, Sport, and Smart driving modes and rubberized sport pedals the value proposition of this GT just keeps getting better and better. A head-up display would be nice but perhaps I’m just getting greedy.

WHAT ABOUT AN ELANTRA N?

2022 Kia Forte GT Review: An Affordable, Fun-to-Drive Car Exterior
- image 1087903

This Forte GT is the mirror of the Elantra N Line. Though, unlike its Hyundai counterpart, Kia doesn’t offer the Forte with a 2.0-liter turbo so if you want an even higher degree of sportiness in a car nearly identical to this, a full-blown Elantra N is worth a look.

But the Forte GT is a steal. In the craziest retail environment I’ve seen in 25 years in terms of both dealer price gouging and limited product availability, if you can find this car at sticker price don’t delay.

Steven Hammes
About the author

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