When you’ve got a tight budget and need a small car that can handle your daily commute, the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte should be at or near the top of your list. These two impressive cars have been easy to drive, easy to pay for, and easy to maintain for many years. The differences you’ll find might have to do with included technology, advanced powertrains, and the overall value you’re looking for.
Hyundai has built a reputation for offering us more standard features than any other brand, which makes it simple for you to find the right car.
Maybe the Comparison is Unfair
If we’re looking at the 2021 versions of each of these two cars, you’ll find that the Forte was not upgraded for this model year. The Elantra benefits from a new design, which includes new powertrains. The Forte does bring a sleek design and user-friendly infotainment system, which might continue to make this a fair fight. Let’s explore some of the items we compare and see what you think.
Fuel Mileage Numbers
With the Hyundai Elantra, you’ll have a few different options to give you the right fuel mileage during your drive. The base 2.0-liter engine gives you 33 city/43 hwy mpg, while the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine returns 28 city/36 hwy mpg. You can select the new Elantra Hybrid and find 53 city/56 hwy mpg during your drive.
Looking at the Kia Forte, you’ll notice the base 2.0-liter engine returns 31 city/41 hwy mpg while the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine gives you 27 city/35 hwy mpg. There isn’t a hybrid version of this car yet.
As you can plainly see, the Elantra is the right choice when you’re looking for the most fuel-efficient compact sedan to drive.
A Good CVT, Is There Such a Thing
The CVT automatic transmission has been mired with negativity from the automotive world, no matter the brand. This is an area where the Elantra certainly has an advantage over the Forte. The CVT in the Elantra has been redesigned and gives you a quiet and quick responding system that feels great on the road. You won’t say the same for the Forte, but that might be changed when this car receives its next package of updates.
Either way, this is a second area where the Elantra stands above the Forte in this comparison.
Where Can You Get a Manual Transmission?
You might find it unlikely that two cars that have CVTs as their main transmission offering will even have a manual for you to use, but both of these cars do. The Kia Forte gives you a standard six-speed manual transmission on the base FE trim, which is a bit of a throwback for this car.
To find the manual transmission for the Hyundai Elantra, you have to move to the top of the spectrum and select the N Line model.
The advantage for this category goes to the Forte, which offers the manual in a more affordable model.
Which One is More Spacious Where?
If you’re looking for the car with the larger trunk, you’ll want to choose the Forte. The trunk measures 15.3 cubic feet compared to the 14.2 cubic foot trunk of the Elantra. This means you can fit more stuff in the rear when it’s time to take your Forte out with your family.
Of course, that family might be happier in the Elantra, which offers more rear passenger legroom.
That’s right, the measurement in the Hyundai is 38 inches, while the Kia gives your rear passengers 35.7 inches of rear legroom.
Which Car has More Technology?
When you see what the Kia Forte has to offer, you’ll see a car that brings you a functional interior with plenty of technology to give you the items you want during your drive.
The drawback here is the fact that the Hyundai Elantra is the car that was recently redesigned for 2021.
When you see the Elantra, you’ll find an optional 10.3-inch touchscreen, a fully digital instrument cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay, and wireless Android Auto on some trims.
These items can certainly be enough to make a difference to you. Of course, there’s also that automatic opening trunk at the right trim levels.
Pricing Matters When You Have a Tight Budget
You’re pinching pennies and don’t need to pay for a ton of features that won’t make a difference in your drive. With that in mind, you’ll want to look at the starting prices of these two cars. The Forte begins at $18,885, while the Elantra gives you a starting point of $20,655.
Move up the lineup to the Forte GT, and you’ll pay $23,785, while the Elantra N Line will ask for 26,205 to be the car you want to drive.
This gives you an affordable pricing range for you to figure out which car is priced right and has what you’re looking for.
Breaking Down the Comparison
Advantage for the Hyundai Elantra
- Fuel Mileage
- Available Technology
- Better CVT Transmission
Advantages for the Kia Forte
- Lower Base Price
- Manual Transmission in the Base Model
- Cargo Room in the Trunk
Which one of these two cars will be the right one for you? Both offer impressive standard warranties and extended powertrain coverage to make sure you can drive with confidence on any road. It might come down to the test drive, but if you’re looking for the car that gives you the best overall value, the Hyundai Elantra is the right car for you.