It is no secret that the number one and number two automakers in South Korea have a unique relationship. Hyundai, the larger of the two, owns about a third of Kia, which today works out to billions of dollars. And while that relationship would make it seem as though all offerings from these two companies would be similar, that is hardly the case. Both Kia and Hyundai build and market their vehicles for and to different segments of the car driving public. Kia, for example, often goes for the younger, sportier crowds, whereas Hyundai presents itself as an affordable car company, producing a lineup that has slightly higher starting prices than most Kia models. With that introduction, there are several cars in each lineup that are at least somewhat similar. Two such cars are the Kia Forte and the Hyundai Elantra. Both are somewhat compact, sporty sedans that come with a variety of trims and advanced safety and tech features. But even with their similarities, there are still plenty of differences. To help you figure out which one might be the better buy, here is a closer look at the 2020 Kia Forte vs 2020 Hyundai Elantra.
Pricing and Trims
The first thing you’ll notice when taking a closer look at the 2020 Kia Forte and the 2020 Hyundai Elantra is the different starting prices. In this category, the Kia Forte has an MSRP that is a touch more attractive, coming in at $17,890. On the other hand, the Hyundai Elantra starts at $19,300.
While those base prices are important to note, they only tell part of the story. Each of these cars comes in six different trims, and each and every Forte trim has a lower price tag than the equivalent Elantra trim. While the base model Kia Forte is fairly well stocked in its own right, the LXS model has even more features like driver mode select (DMS), a combined fuel efficiency of 33 MPG, and more, and it’s still priced under the Elantra base model, in this case, $19,290. If you jump to the Elantra SEL, the second available trim, the price climbs $20,050, and though it has a slightly better-combined fuel economy rating, it is significantly more expensive.
This trend continues all the way through each of the Forte and Elantra’s six trims, which top out at the Forte GT Manual and its starting price tag of $23,090 and the Hyundai Sport, which retails for $24,150. At each level, the Forte is more affordable and comes with enough features to either match or beat out its Hyundai counterpart. While the Elantra is still clearly a quality machine, the pricing and trims show that the Forte gets the nod as the better buy in this case.
Safety is another area where the 2020 Kia Forte is a shade ahead of the 2020 Hyundai Elantra. The Forte, for instance, boasts a litany of safety features that are the envy of just about every car in its class. It starts with the high-strength steel that reinforces the frame and structure of the Forte and contributes to the stability of the vehicle and also helps make for a quiet, smooth ride. The advanced airbags are also a welcomed addition to the Forte and manage airbag inflation based on a number of factors, including the severity of the impact as well as where passengers are sitting.
The Traction Control System and Electronic Stability Control also guard against unwanted wheel spinning and keep the Forte on course. And the Hill Assist Control on the Forte uses the brakes to keep the car from rolling backward when on an incline. Finally, when outfitted with Forward Collision Avoidance Assist and LED Headlights, the 2020 Kia Forte wins the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) award for top safety pick.
These are only a few of the advanced safety features that come standard with the Kia Forte at most trim levels (you’ll want to check out each trim to make sure the safety feature you are most interested in is available). Other valuable safety features include Lane Keeping Assist and Smart Cruise Control, among others.
While the Hyundai Elantra also comes with some of these features, like Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, it does so with the aforementioned higher price tag. And given that it doesn’t have the same industry-wide recognition for safety, the Elantra is again a notch below the Forte.
Infotainment and Technology
The stunning infotainment system and other advanced technologies of the 2020 Kia Forte are also worth taking a closer look at. These great features include everything from the hands-free trunk, which opens automatically when you stand behind the car to the Apple or Android Connection, which come standard. The 8” touch screen with a rear vision camera is also a nice feature that will get plenty of use.
Other goodies included in the Forte’s spectacular technology suite include out loud navigation capabilities, a wireless charger so you can untangle your front console and keep it cord-free, and the ability to sync your Forte with your phone. This last feature allows for parking reminder updates so you can more easily remember where you parked. Finally, you can make calls and send messages hands-free when you connect your Apple or Android device.
To be sure, the Elantra comes with a good many of these features, but some of them only at the higher trim levels. For example, the Elantra Limited comes with a wireless charging pad, but the Eco, which is just under the Limited trim, only offers two USB ports. A similar story is told for most of the infotainment and technology features of the Elantra. You can get most, if not all, of the features found in and on the Forte, but at a cost. From the base model through the Forte GT Manual, you can get the infotainment and tech features you love for a better price with the Forte than you can get with the Elantra.
It’s All About the Money
As you can see, there is a long list of similarities and differences between the 2020 Kia Forte and the 2020 Hyundai Elantra. You would expect them to be similar, given they are both from Korea and both from sister companies. However, despite the similarities, there are real differences that make the 2020 Kia Forte a model you might want to consider first and foremost.
The Forte boasts some impressive safety features and has a long list of advanced infotainment and technological goodies. While the Elantra has many of the same technologies, it can’t compete with the Forte when it comes to safety, and the final price tag of the Elantra is always going to be higher than the Forte. Because of what you can get for your money with the Forte, it makes Kia’s compact sedan an extremely compelling choice and causes it to edge out the Elantra, if by only the thinnest of margins.
When it comes to these two cars, it is all about the money. From the Forte FE base model, which starts at a shockingly affordable $17,890, all the way up through the Forte GT Manual, which is more than $1000 cheaper than the Elantra’s top trim—the Sport—the Forte is a better bang for your buck. You get many of the features you want and need for less money, and that always makes sense.