When the Honda Civic was first unleashed on the scene of North America you would never have thought a car company from Korea with basically generic styling would ever offer anything that would compete. Both Honda and Kia have come a long way since those first days which are farther gone for Honda than Kia but still the progress is evident. Now we can have the conversation of how the Kia Forte and Honda Civic will fare against each other. With the Civic being the perennial power in this category is it time for the upstart to show its young and agile performance to take down the king, or will the aged and wiser one continue to reign strong?
For compact cars the Civic has been the long time best seller. As a sporty option the segment is filled with sedans that have a similar look but the Civic makes for a sport filled choice in this arena. Even though the Forte is the newcomer it has a lot to offer and is quite the sporty and engaging drive on its own. Pitting these two together might be one of the most interesting comparisons we can find in any car segment.
Both cars offer a sedan and coupe model with the Forte also offering a hatchback that will return to the Civic lineup in 2016. The Forte also has a great list of features to enjoy. These include dual climate control, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, HID headlights, ventilated front seats and three engine choices to make are all features that the Forte has over the Civic. When presented with this, the old wise one shows its hand with the Honda lanewatch camera, rear cross traffic alerts and the remote starter just to name a few, giving the Civic the more advanced technological features even though the Forte has a larger menu of basic offerings.
Comparing pricing is another round of trading punches as the loaded Forte5 comes in at $28,170 while the Civic is only $25,160 when fully loaded. The Forte does have more equipment at that price, but the Civic, having been on the market longer, does not see the need for some of these additional features. On the other end of the pricing spectrum, the Forte begins at $16,715 while the Civic starts at $19,110. This makes the basic model of the Forte more affordable and a better value.
The engine offerings for the Civic are very limited. Unless you select the Civic Si you are going to get a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that shows up with 143 horsepower and 129 lb.-ft. of torque which is attached to a high performing continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The Forte does have three different engines and a choice of automatic transmissions. The best choice on the Forte is the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that has 173 horsepower and 154 lb.-ft. of torque with a six speed automatic transmission. This gives the fuel mileage for the Forte at 25 city/33 hwy mpg and 30 city/39 hwy mpg for the Civic which is another round of trading tit for tat in this ring.
With these two beauties circling each other trying to find a way to land that knockout blow the driving feeling gets a look. The Civic (pre 2016) may not be as sporty as it once was, but it still has the engaged steering and a small steering wheel to offer a quickly responsive feel and a bit of a sportiness with this small wheel in place. On the other hand the Forte has a lot of “dead spots” in its steering weight and offers a less than adequate steering that seems more like work than like the fun it should be.
On the inside the experience wins out. The Honda is designed to not be overdone, it is a highly attractive interior with good space and not too many frills. The higher models gain the HondaLink, which could honestly use some upgrades, but is an overall great inclusion on this car. Inside the Forte is a simple and easy to use interior that is nearly boring in looks and nature. For a car with more equipment this is where the Forte was expected to win out, but it simple doesn’t even come close.
Overall, the winner for this comparison is the Forte by a very narrow margin. The added equipment and comfort are hard to beat along with the five-year comprehensive/ten year powertrain warranty that no other car company comes close to offering. The old fighter has gone down in this battle, but there is a brand new Civic right on the horizon in 2016 just waiting to show up and take the title back from the Forte, stay tuned for the next time these two go head to head.
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