2022 Kia Forte Review Update

Beverly Braga, Independent Expert | Apr 24, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Kia deals!

The Kia Forte may be a small car in a big, bad SUV world, but its sales continue to be strong. In 2021, the Kia brand experienced its biggest sales year ever, and the Forte's 36-percent year-over-year increase was the largest of any model in the lineup. Leading the sales chart with nearly 116,000 units, the Kia Forte enjoyed its own best sales year since being introduced in 2008. With this continued success—despite all of those crossovers and SUVs—it's a solid bet that the Forte will remain in the Kia lineup for an extended time.

Refreshed for 2022, the Kia Forte receives a host of enhancements, including new design elements, upgraded in-car technology, more available safety features, updated package options, and revamped trim levels.

Changes for the 2022 Kia Forte include:

  • Updated front fascia and headlight design
  • Revised front and rear bumper design
  • New 16- and 17-inch wheel designs
  • New trunk lid spoiler
  • Standard 4.2-inch color LCD instrument cluster
  • Standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with 8-inch infotainment touchscreen
  • Standard 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen on GT-Line and GT
  • Available rear USB charger
  • Available SynTex synthetic leather upholstery
  • Standard Lane Following Assist
  • Available Highway Driving Assist
  • Available navigation-based Smart Cruise Control-Curve
  • Available navigation-based Smart Cruise Control-Zone
  • Available Safe Exit Assist

The 2022 Kia Forte is available in FE, LXS, GT-Line, and GT trim levels (Kia discontinued the EX trim for 2022). The engine choices remain a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder exclusive to the GT trim. Standard is a 7-speed continuously variable transmission (CVT), while buyers can option the Forte GT with either a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) or a 6-speed manual. All Kia Fortes are front-wheel-drive only.

Pricing for the entry-level FE starts at $20,145 (including the $1,055 destination charge). A stick shift-equipped Forte GT garners the high price at $25,545.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2020 Kia Forte GT. This review focuses on the Forte's updates for 2022 and how they potentially impact its overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Kia Forte - Find the best Kia deals!

2022 Kia Forte GT Silver Front Quarter View

Photo: Beverly Braga

The Kia Forte competes in the Compact Car market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 53 percent of new Kia Forte buyers are male (vs. 55 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new Forte buyer is 46 years (vs. 50).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Forte in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior design
  • Fuel economy
  • Driving feel
  • Powertrain
  • Feeling of safety
  • Infotainment
  • Setting up and starting
  • Interior layout
  • Getting in and out
  • Driving comfort

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the Forte ranks 4th out of 11 Compact Car models.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Kia Forte - Find the best Kia deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes a Forte GT equipped with the following options:

  • GT2 package
  • Carpeted floor mats

The price of the test vehicle came to $26,840, including the $995 destination charge.

Athletic Exterior Design Elements

2022 Kia Forte GT Interior Dashboard

Photo: Beverly Braga

All 2022 Kia Forte trims receive a light makeover in the exterior design department. This includes new headlights, a revised grille, and updated bumpers in the front and rear. Kia also slimmed down the headlights and signature "tiger nose" grille. With narrower openings, the combined effect is elongated and sleeker proportions—even though the car did not change in terms of size.

The front and rear bumpers are also revised to accentuate the Forte's low, lean appearance, Kia says. The automaker also reworked the headlight and taillight assemblies with a sportier appeal on Forte GT-Line and GT trims. Also, the LED fog lights are now integrated into the air-intake grille. Other trim-level changes include new 16- and 17-inch dark metal wheel designs for the LXS and GT-Line.

Like with the front fascia, the updated design elements lend themselves to a slimming effect. Where last year's Forte appeared small but stout, the 2022 model suggests agility and nimbleness. Add a new trunk lid spoiler, and the visual tricks give the Forte an athletic presence that more closely matches its driving dynamics. The Forte GT, in particular, looks well suited for a fun day of driving thanks to its dual chrome exhausts as well as red accents within the grille pattern, wheel center caps, and on the lower front and rear fascias.

Agile and Practical Performance

Of course, looks are one thing and performance another. Thankfully, the Forte remains a fun-to-drive little sedan, especially in GT form. Kia offers the Forte with two engine options, but the 1.6-liter is exclusive to the GT trim. The turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-4 produces 201 hp and 195 pound-feet of torque, equating to plus-54 hp and plus-63 pound-feet of torque compared to the standard non-turbo 4-cylinder.

Also exclusive to the Forte GT is a 7-speed DCT or 6-speed manual transmission. However, the Forte with the stick shift is the most expensive version, costing a thousand bucks more than the DCT-optioned GT. That's because it comes with ultra-grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer performance tires.

The test vehicle had the DCT. At low speeds, the gearbox proved to be hesitant in shifts, but the DCT provided crisp and smooth transitions at speed. There are also paddle shifters if you want to be more of a participant than a spectator in what the vehicle is doing.

The 2022 Forte has three drive modes: Normal, Sport, and Smart. In Normal/Smart, I couldn't discern a difference in vehicle behavior or engine note. But switch to Sport, and the Forte GT offers up a low growl in idle, tightens the steering feel, and is much more engaging in the corners. The Forte GT's suspension is taut, and the vehicle felt planted on roads resembling anything remotely dynamic, which is what you want in a car geared for enthusiastic driving.

However, as an everyday commuter car, some might find the suspension too stiff, especially when outfitted with the newly available SynTex synthetic leather. While nice and upscale in look, the feel is not as soft as genuine leather upholstery. That said, there was nary a rattle or creak from the vehicle on rough roads, and although there is some road noise, it's likely on par for the segment.

The fuel-economy rating for the Kia Forte GT is an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined for the DCT. During a mostly highway drive and with the adaptive cruise control set to 78 mph, I averaged 32.8 mpg. The vehicle never achieved anything close to 35 mpg. However, my combined mpg average for the entire evaluation was 30.7, which is on par with the EPA numbers. I felt the Forte GT exceeded the city mpg rating, though, as I saw the fuel economy indicator always hovering between the high 20s and low 30s during city drives.

Premium Infotainment

2022 Kia Forte GT Silver Grille and Front Fascia

Photo: Beverly Braga

In-car technology and infotainment offerings become low-key high-end for the 2022 Kia Forte. Now standard for all Fortes is a 4.2-inch color LCD driver information display. Previously, the standard was a 3.5-inch monochromatic display, with the larger 4.2-inch version an option on the GT only.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on the previous model year, but now a wireless connection comes with the 8-inch infotainment touchscreen system (FE and LXS trims). For GT-Line and GT models, which have a 10.25-inch touchscreen, navigation now includes free MapCare updates.

For 2022, Forte GT-Line and GT trims have remote engine start added as a Smart Key feature. Also, buyers can option the GT-Line with a rear USB charger as well as wireless device charging. These features were previously standard exclusivities for the Forte GT.

The 2022 Kia Forte is available with new package options for additional amenities and features. Buyers of the Forte LXS, GT-Line, and GT can add a trim-specific Technology package. These packages add a combination of convenience technologies and safety systems, costing either $300 or $500, depending on trim. The GT-Line also has a new Sport Premium package ($1,000) that includes luxury features like heated and ventilated front seats as well as a USB charging port and an HVAC vent for rear-seat passengers.

More Advanced Safety

In crash tests, the Kia Forte mainly received "Good" ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) but only a 4-star (out of five) rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, new advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) are either newly standard or available for the 2022 model, which may improve the Forte's crash-test performance.

Kia's suite of ADAS is cumulatively called Drive Wise. The collection includes six standard ADAS, but with options, it can feature as many as 15 systems.

Now standard is lane-centering assistance, which keeps the vehicle in the center of the lane as long as it detects lane markings. Available for 2022 are Highway Driving Assist (HDA), Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control-Curve (NSCC-C), Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control-Zone (NSCC-Z), and Safe Exit Assist.

Using the navigation system, HDA automatically adjusts the Smart Cruise Control speed based on known speed limits while maintaining the preset distance from any vehicles ahead. Similarly, NSCC-C and NSCC-Z utilize navigation information to proactively lower the vehicle's speed before upcoming curves and zone-specific highway speed limits (like when traveling through major city centers), respectively.

Existing ADAS that Kia upgraded for improved functionality are the standard forward-collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection and available blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning. Lastly, a new option for GT-Line and GT trims is an electric parking brake with automatic hold.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Kia deals!

2022 Kia Forte GT Silver Rear Quarter View

Photo: Beverly Braga

There's no secret why the Kia Forte is a popular buy, especially among a highly regarded Kia lineup. The Forte is impressive for the number of standard features and amenities it offers. The Kia Forte GT is a well-packaged, fun-to-drive compact sedan. It doesn't hurt that the car looks good and won't break the bank, even when opting for the top-of-the-line, stick shift-equipped GT version.

This isn't to say that the Kia Forte is without fault. For one thing, I found the cabin to be a strange landscape of premium appearances but cheap-feeling materials. The SynTex synthetic leather was nice, and the front seats provided good bolstering and back support, but the seat bottom cushion was stiff and unpleasant. Buttons and switches had a high-quality look and feel, but other frequent touchpoints were unappealing to the touch. For example, holding the steering wheel was akin to gripping a brick (i.e., not comfortable).

With regards to the infotainment system, the touchscreen is responsive but also tricky to use when the vehicle is in motion. Utilizing voice activation, especially for navigation, proved to be just as frustrating. I requested directions to a local dessert shop called Ice Cream Time, but the system began a search for "kimchi." I'm not kidding. Another time, "tea" was translated as "tire." Sigh.

But all in all, the 2022 Kia Forte will not disappoint. The car remains affordable, returns as-advertised fuel economy, has engaging dynamics, looks great, is available with features found on larger, more expensive models, and now has more ADAS equipment to improve driving comfort and confidence. After all, 115,929 new Forte owners can't be wrong, can they?

Beverly Braga is a freelance writer and consultant with nearly 20 years of experience as a storyteller and communications professional. In addition to JDPower.com, her work has appeared in numerous print and digital outlets covering the automotive, entertainment, lifestyle, and food & beverage industries.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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