2021 Honda Civic vs. 2021 Kia Forte

2021 Honda Civic vs Kia Forte

We know why you’re here: You’re looking for a great small car, with a ton of great features, at a great price. All that can be had with the 2021 Kia Forte and 2021 Honda Civic. Each car is good on gas, is spacious, and comes with a friendly MSRP. Yet it’s the classic Civic that should will appeal to your smart-shopper sensibilities -- and here’s why.

Standard Safety

Every Civic sedan comes standard with Honda Sensing, a full suite of safety and driver-assist technologies that are built to keep you and your passengers protected at every turn. The inclusion of Honda Sensing is one reason why the 2020 Civic earned an NHTSA 5-Star Overall Safety Rating.

In addition to a normal slate of Honda Safety systems -- like Collision Mitigation Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, and Forward Collision Warning, to name a few -- the base Civic LX trim also includes a handful of features that aren’t available in the comparable Kia Forte FE.

Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow

Maintain a set cruise speed and following distance between your Civic and the vehicle in front of you. The system will monitor the road and automatically adjust its speed to match the flow of traffic. If needed, Civic will even come to a full stop; when traffic picks back up, simply tap the throttle to engage the ACC system again.

Kia’s Smart Cruise Control operates in a similar manner, though it’s not available on the entry-level Forte FE, nor is it standard on LXS, FT-Line, or EX models. To benefit from SCC, an upgrade to the Kia Forte GT, with appropriate package, is required.

2021 Civic - Auto High Beam Headlights

Auto High-Beam Headlights

Tired of clicking your high beams on and off? We hear you -- and so does Honda. By including Auto High-Beam Headlights in every Civic model, Honda is clearly making a statement that passive safety is better than manually toggling levers. The future of entry-level cars is here.

Kia’s High Beam Assist is not available on the base Forte FE, and only becomes standard on the pricier Forte GT model.

Road Departure Mitigation System

Honda’s RDM system encapsulates every driver-assist and passive safety feature into one. It determines if you’ve crossed lanes unintentionally, then provides steering assistance to right the ship, as it were. If your lane departure is significant -- if you’re about to veer off the highway and go careening into a caravan of gypsies, for instance -- RDM will brake for you to ensure you don’t make the nightly news.

Kia Forte offers a collection of similar driver-assistive features, like Lane Change Assist, Lane Keeping Assist-Line, and Lane Departure Warning, but no Kia safety system holds a candle to Honda’s Road Departure Mitigation setup.

2021 Civic - Room for Riders

Room for Riders

Designing a good compact car is all about making thoughtful design choices to maximize every millimeter of cabin space. The 2021 Civic is a perfect example. Its cabin offers up to 97.8 cubic feet of passenger volume, over four more cubes than the sunroof-equipped Kia Forte EX. Front and rear specs favor the new Civic, too, as Honda’s sedan beats the Forte in legroom and front hiproom, headroom, and shoulder room.

2021 Civic LX Sedan 2021 Forte EX
Passenger Volume 97.8 cu. ft. 93.5 cu. ft. (sunroof)
Legroom (front) 42.3 in 42.2 in
Legroom (rear) 37.4 in 35.7 in
Hiproom (front) 53.7 in 53.0 in
Shoulder Room (front) 57.0 in 56.1 in
Headroom (front) 39.3 in 38.8 in


Battle of the 2.0-Liters

You hear that rumble? It’s the 2021 Civic LX’s pulse-quickening 2.0L inline-four pulsating to life. Redlining at 6,700 rpm, Civic’s entry power plant serves up 138 pound-feet of torque and chugs along with its 158-horsepower output.

Kia Forte FE is also powered by a 2.0-liter inline-four, though it’s not quite as impressive as Honda’s specimen. It strains through the RPMs, delivering 147 horsepower and 132 lb.-ft. of torque. The baseline Forte FE is also mated to a standard 6-speed manual, not a CVT like you’ll find in the Civic or Forte’s higher trims.

2021 Civic LX Sedan
2021 Forte FE
Horsepower 158 147
Torque (lb.-ft.) 138 138
Transmission CVT 6-Speed Manual

Civic Gets the Nod in Fuel Economy

These days, we pick and choose a car because it’s practical -- that is, it helps us steer clear of the gas station. In this game of practicality, the 2021 Honda Civic beats the 2021 Kia Forte quite handily, returning more mpg once all the cards are counted.

(city / hwy / combined)
(city / hwy / combined)
2021 Civic LX Sedan 30/38/33 2021 Forte FE (manual) 27/37/31
2021 Civic Sport Sedan 29/37/32 2021 Forte GT 27/35/30
2021 Civic EX Sedan 32/42/36 2021 Forte EX 29/40/33

First-Rate Features

10-Speaker Premium Audio System

Drop the beat with Civic Touring’s incredible 10-speaker sound system. About 450 watts of power surge through those 10 speakers, plus a dedicated subwoofer, turning your Civic’s cabin into a four-wheeled amphitheater. Stream all those Taylor Swift songs till you can’t Swift no ‘mo.

How’s the sound system in the Civic Touring compare to the Kia Forte? Forte’s top-of-the-line audio system delivers 320 watts’ of tunes through just 8 speakers and a subwoofer.

Smart Entry with Walk Away Auto Lock

Pop and lock, too, with Civic’s Smart Entry with Walk Away Auto Lock feature. If you’ve got your key fob nearby, Civic will take care of business by unlocking or locking the doors when you get close or too far away, respectively. This feature comes standard in the Civic EX model, and there’s no front-to-back comparable Kia Forte option.

2021 Civic - Leather Seating

Leather Seating

EX-L and Touring Civic models come with luxurious leather-trimmed seats. Kia Forte doesn’t offer the sale highly tactile touchpoints; instead, range-topping Forte trims come with seats featuring SOFINO, their artificial leather upholstery.

16” vs 15” Standard Wheels

Gain the height advantage on the road with Honda Civic LX’s standard, fully covered 16-inch wheels. These beat out Forte FE’s base 15-inchers.

2021 Civic - Center Console with Sliding Storage and Armrest

Center Console with Sliding Storage & Armrest

Sometimes the best things in life are right under your elbow. With Honda Civic’s standard sliding armrest and center storage compartment, you gain extra flexibility whenever you need it.

Keep your drinks close to your fingertips by sliding the cupholders forward. When you don’t require the morning java jolt, push the cupholders back, giving you extra room for your purse. Got a tablet you need to stow? Remove the whole doggone contraption, place that tablet in the storage compartment, and slide the armrest over to conceal it. You’ve got options in the Civic.


30 city/38 highway/33 combined mpg rating for LX and Touring trims. 29 city/37 highway/32 combined mpg rating for Sport trim. 32 city/42 highway/36 combined mpg rating for EX and EX-L trims. Based on 2021 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions and other factors.

158 @ 6500 rpm (SAE net)

138 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm (SAE net)