Review: The 2022 Kia Forte GT is Neither Grand nor a Tourer

As much as the general automotive media doesn’t want you to believe it, automakers are still pumping out a wide selection of enthusiast-minded, relatively inexpensive daily drivers that aren’t outright sports cars. Take, for example, the new Honda Civic Si, the Hyundai Elantra N and Veloster N, the Subaru WRX, and so on. Kia, Hyundai’s partner not in crime but in recent leaps of success, even builds the excellent, reasonably-affordable Stinger. To our dismay, the 2022 Kia Forte GT is not one of these cars.

Here’s the thing…

Problem number one is the price. The 2022 Kia Forte starts at $23,490. This isn’t an issue itself, perhaps representing a good value for a decently-built car with a little spice in its step. The questions start with our tester’s GT2 package which added $2,200. The option box adds a good assortment of niceties: Power driver’s seat, forward collision avoidance assist, smart cruise control, heated and ventilated front seats, reverse parking sensors, power sunroof, Harman/Kardon audio, and SynTex seating materials. We could do without the electronic parking brake, however. All-in-all it’s a lot of kit for the coin. But Kia touts a “track-inspired driving experience,” and the problems worsen.

When you think of the aforementioned phrase, you likely envision the kind of car that makes you want to go driving for no reason other than to do exactly that. The Forte GT isn’t that.

1.6L of turbocharged mediocrity

201 horsepower sounds like a fair, semi-competitive number when you consider the Honda Civic Si has had right around this for the last decade-plus. But where the Honda is willing and responsive, Kia’s engine sounds like marbles in a coffee can. It’s perpetually happier cruising around at low RPM than it is an able partner when you look to wring it out. The DCT is a good unit on paper yet takes longer to shift than we’d expect. And while the sport-tuned exhaust sounds good in a tunnel with the turbo noise supplementing the volume, it drones endlessly at speed.

If nothing else, it at least helps drown out the persistent road and tire noise. Of all of the cars we’ve tested lately, the Forte GT has by far the most excessive volume. It incessantly emanates through the cabin, whether around town or on the highway. The tires howl, and the road surface echoes up through the interior. It’s exhausting on a long drive, and the stereo isn’t good enough to negate it. Here, the Forte GT betrays its descriptive designation.

Where’s the spice?

The biggest problem is that the Forte GT just doesn’t feel sporty. Rather, it feels like an economy car with a ton of tech and features that overpromises on its sporting capabilities and doesn’t so much as under-deliver as it does barely get off the ground.

The best thing we can say about the 2022 Kia Forte GT is that the car comes incredibly well-equipped for a vehicle at its price. Or, at least it does before you start adding options. The Forte GT is $23,490. Kia actually charges more for the manual car, at $24,490. Still, it’s a lot of coin for the car. But then the options hit. The tester had the GT2 package which adds $2,200. It brings with it a ton of niceties and luxury items for a car under $30k. Heated and ventilated front seats, LED overhead lighting, power sunroof, Harman/Kardon audio, and so on are all fantastic. Carpeted floor mats cost $155. With these choices, the test car’s final price came to $26,840.

This is within spitting distance of the $27,300 Honda Civic Si. The Si has better build quality, an excellent shifter, and drives much sportier. The Subaru WRX is only marginally more expensive, too. We’d go so far as to say the extra few grand for the Hyundai Elantra N or Veloster N is well worth the money. All of these outclass the Forte GT on the performance front by a country mile.

…there isn’t any.

The Forte GT’s performance, or lack thereof, is a major issue. In fact, its dynamics in all drive modes are difficult to palate. In auto/comfort mode, the automatic transmission does the worst fuel-saving immediate upshifting of any vehicle in recent memory. In sport mode, it allows you to play with the paddles but still doesn’t feel sporty. The steering tightens up and nothing else happens. The engine sounds like it hates its own existence, grumbling along and making noises that modern engines don’t usually make. The exhaust sounds bad and drones unnecessarily, only overwhelmed by the excessive road noise at low speeds which become almost unbearably loud on the highway. It’s dreadful. A manual transmission is available, and those looking at a Forte would do well to get the stick as the “Intelligent Automatic Variable Transmission” is utterly dreadful.

If nothing else, we did manage 35.2 MPG over the long road trip. It gave us time to realize that the interior is solid. Materials are decent and we appreciate all of the tech and safety and luxury kit in a car this inexpensive. The seats provided long-haul comfort in almost 600 miles of road tripping. However, CarPlay *and* Android Auto crashed repeatedly to the frequency that we couldn’t keep trying to use it. Hopefully, the kind of thing a software update or USB port replacement would fix, but inexcusable if not.

More red accents than red mist

There isn’t much better when you look around more. The fake center-lock wheel rings are bad. The red trim on the grille is tacky. The overall look isn’t bad, but it isn’t good. With Hyundai using the red trim on its N models, doing so on a non-performance variant version of a Kia economy/compact sedan feels like a misstep. It doesn’t need the red trim.

If it sounds like we’re being harsh on the Forte GT it’s only because we know Kia is capable of so much more. Vehicles like the Telluride, EV6, Carnival, Sorento, Stinger, and K5 are all truly good or excellent vehicles that stand out in their class as high-value, quirky options that we’re happy to recommend. We truly wish we could say the same about the Forte GT. Unfortunately, it’s outclassed by everything it competes with and isn’t particularly deserving of the GT badge. We appreciate that Kia builds the Forte and the Forte GT but look forward to what the next generation or iteration of the model and designation brings. There’s more left on the table.

Kia can do better

The 2022 Kia Forte GT over-promises and under-delivers. In a packed field of fantastic choices, it’s hard to recommend. It easily got us from A to B without issue and achieved excellent gas mileage but not much else. It also has a class-beating warranty which matters if you’re buying one for long-term ownership.

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9 responses to “Review: The 2022 Kia Forte GT is Neither Grand nor a Tourer”

  1. Maymar Avatar

    I know it’s not totally fair to compare random fuel economy figures, but I’ve seen 40 or so pretty easily out of a rental Camry with right about the same 200hp. I’m going to go ahead and assume that drives just about as sporty as this Forte as well.

  2.  Avatar

    Unfortunately this review completely left out the manual version of the car, if you are going to take the time to make this article the least you could do would be actually trying both versions of the transmission. Without that, this article just seems like a lazy Subaru and Honda fanboy wrote it.

  3.  Avatar

    As an owner of a 21 6mt, the car actually sounds great, the manual is a blast and comes with PS4’s standard instead of the garbage Khumo tires. It’s genuinely quick and the aftermarket is getting pretty vast for these. Only thing I wish it had was a diff. In short, this review feels like a honda fanboy is angry at Kia for having the audacity to make a SI fighter for less money.

  4. Rocco Difranco Avatar

    You have got to be kidding, that was the worst review of a car I have ever seen, having owned many muscle cars , and modern high performance vehicles, the Kia forte GT IS buy far and away the most sporty car for the money bar none , it’s plenty fast , sporty, and full of tech , you must be getting paid by Honda , or Volkswagen to bash a fantastic car. I totally disagree and also many more people also disagree with your very biased article.

  5. J wynn Avatar
    J wynn

    I agree with the other commenters, you sound like an angry little fanboy. Put this car in sport mode, and treat it like a semi-automatic, and it comes alive. The exhaust sounds great, the accents are playfully aggressive while not being tacky. I literally just drove 4 hours straight, a combination of interstate and curvy two lane. I had a blast. Accelerates from 60 to 120 effortlessly, the 8 speaker sound system(included subwoofer in the trunk) completely masks the exhaust drone, and sounds fantastic to someone who’s extremely picky about sound quality. I have literally not had one issue with Android auto(it is retarded that wireless is not working). It literally handled the turns better than my AWD 320i, and is a little slower, but not by much (320i has jb4). Your “review” is so completely inaccurate, to call it a review is a joke. The DRLs and headlights look fantastic as well.

  6. JJ Avatar

    Jason Camissa and Jonny Lieberman both liked this car a lot and had a lot of positives to this car especially on the steering and engine sound let alone value for money – that itself should tell you about the car. Think this reviewer woke up on the wrong side of the bed because review ain’t it

  7. Ryan Avatar

    I own a 2021 GT. For the price it’s actually a great car.. I recommend anyone interested to upgrade to the GT model. In Sport it’s actually kinda fun. I own a sports car 3x the value, and of course it’s not that. But for a daily cheap drive? It’s amazing …

    I do hate the forward collision avoidance assist. It’s a cheap version of a luxury car that has cause me a couple scares. That’s my only complaint about the entire car. This review is wrong.

  8. Jon Avatar

    I have my Kia forte gt built up to 300 horsepower after spending a great hunk of change on performance parts. The DCT shifts WAY faster than you think it does, you start adding all these parts and it’s unstoppable. I’ve beat 2 wrxs and 1 STI. I’ve raced multiple bmw models and only lost once to a car I’d did not know was a V8 with over 400hp. As far as the sportiness of the car goes… if you were to drive my forte I feel that this post would be worded a lot differently. I can take a corner at 60 and not chirp a tire as far as the SI goes.. good luck with that. My cousins SI takes a corner at 40 and it wants to kick the wheels out

  9. Sal Avatar

    Wow , i cannot believe they let you post this interview. I’ve been around cars my whole life , many types of car including civics . The forte GT is on the same level as a brand new SI, it also sounds very nice , i get compliments all the time on my car . The only issue i have is that road noise , it is honestly unacceptable on a 30k car .