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2020 Kia Forte vs Hyundai Elantra

2020 Kia Forte vs Hyundai Elantra

2020 Forte vs Elantra - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

Available in six trims, the 2020 Kia Forte and 2020 Hyundai Elantra offer great value in efficient performance, electronic technology and safety. Both compact sedans run on identical mechanical platforms, which include turbochargers and the Intelligent Variable Transmission System.

The trademark Drive Wise technology manages several active safety features in the 2020 Forte. Similarly, the SmartSense technology controls various accident-mitigation features in the 2020 Elantra. Both sedans have alert systems for potential forward crashes and automatic braking. Lane-keeping functions and blind-spot monitors are also available in these compact cars. Several parking aides are optional for the most expensive Forte model.

These Korean-made vehicles offer comparable digital technologies that appeal greatly to smartphone users. Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth and wireless charging provide tremendous utility in the cabins. The Forte has the UVO eServices that can be easily accessed on a mobile device. Similarly, the Elantra is compatible with the Blue Link services that work well on mobile phones. Both vehicles offer 8-inch navigation systems with external traffic feeds and other apps.

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The Powertrain

Designed to produce up to 147 net horsepower when revolving at 6,200 RPM, a 2.0 L engine block drives the 2020 Forte and Elantra. This I-4 powertrain delivers 132 pound-feet of net torque when the tachometer reaches at least 4,500 RPM. Multi-Point Fuel Injection (MPI) manages various events inside the combustion chamber of this four-cylinder propulsion unit. The D-CVVT technology is also integrated into the Elantra's powertrain.

Displacing approximately 1.6 L, a turbocharged engine block is optional for both sedans. Gasoline direct injection (GDI) initiates combustion in this turbo powertrain, which is rated at 201 hp at 6,000 RPM. When operating between 1,500 and 4,500 RPM, the compact propulsion system yields 195 lb-ft of peak torque. The turbo engine is paired with a sport-tuned exhaust system that includes dual outlets for optimum flow of gases and unique acoustic effects.

Whipping out 128 hp at 5,500 RPM, a 1.4 L I-4 turbo engine is also available for the 2020 Elantra. This small powertrain cranks out 156 lb-ft of torque between 1,400 and 3,700 RPM. Combustion in this four-cylinder engine is precisely initiated by the GDI mechanism.

A dual-clutch transmission system is tuned to work with the turbocharged engines in both sedans. The DCT system cycles through seven fix gear ratios depending on the driver's demands and external factors. Paddle shifters allow the driver to access the gearbox more quickly. The Elantra's DCT system carries the patented EcoShift label, which doesn't actually add any extra features.

Both vehicles can be equipped with the Intelligent Variable Transmission system. When installed in the Elantra, the IVT is given the proprietary SmartStream nameplate, which doesn't come with any additional advantages. The Forte's IVT is paired with the Sportmatic technology for sporty handling. Overall, the gearbox in both sedans is more responsive than a conventional continuously variable transmission system. The IVT and DCT systems are synchronized with a front-wheel drive (FWD) system.

The 2020 Forte base trim is driven by a manual transmission system that shifts among six fixed gear ratios. This classic-inspired gearbox replaces automatic transmissions from previous generations. When running on a manual transmission, this Kia sedan has an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 37 MPG on the highway and 27 MPG in the city. The GT Manual edition has a combined rating of 28 MPG.

When equipped with the IVT, the Forte gets up to 40 MPG on the highway and 29 MPG on urban roads. Claiming a low ranking on the lineup, the EX trim has a slightly better rating in the city. Gas mileage ratings for the 2.0 L turbo engine include 35 MPG on the highway and 27 MPG in the city.

The Elantra Eco trim drives for up to 41 miles on the highway from a single gallon of fuel. This efficient Hyundai sedan cruises for up to 33 miles in the city from each gallon of gasoline. The 1.6 L turbo engine earns maximum ratings of 33 MPG on the highway and 29 MPG in the city. The standard 2.0 L engine is rated at 40 MPG on the highway and 30 MPG for urban travel.

Both sedans come standard with a fuel tank that holds up to 14.0 gallons of regular unleaded gasoline. These efficient models offer driving ranges of more than 560 miles between stops at the pump. The reliable Korean models are covered by a 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The industry-leading warranty also has a 10-year limit.

Valid for unlimited mileage and up to seven years, an anti-perforation warranty covers the 2020 Elantra. The New Vehicle Limited warranty has a standard coverage of five years or 60,000 miles. Additionally, this compact Hyundai sedan is covered by 24/7 roadside assistance for up to five years and without any mileage restrictions.

Front disc brakes with ventilated finishes are installed on the 2020 Forte and Elantra. Solid rear disc brakes without vents are standard on the Kia model. However, the Hyundai model is equipped with conventional rear drum brakes. Both compact sedans are stabilized by an anti-lock braking system and the Brake Assist.

Engineered to improve handling on slippery roads, the electronic stability control gives a major boost to both sedans. When navigating low-friction surfaces, these lightweight models are also managed by the traction control system. When the driver loses control of the steering, the vehicle stability management kicks in. Thanks to maximum braking force from the Hill Start Assist Control, the Forte will not roll backwards on a sloped road.


Clearing the ground by slightly more than 5 inches, the 2020 Forte and Elantra have a relatively low stance on the road. Therefore, the ride comfort in these compact cars is naturally worse than full-size sedans or crossover SUVs. However, both vehicles are balanced by MacPherson-style struts that have been on the market for decades. A multi-link rear suspension system is also installed on both vehicles. Additionally, the Elantra's rear axle is available with a coupled torsion that resists major impacts from the road.

The 2020 Forte's trunk can store up to 15.3 cubic feet of cargo. Up to 14.4 cubic feet of cargo space is available in the 2020 Elantra's trunk. Both sedans offer approximately 39 inches of headroom in the front row. Some of the most spacious Elantra trims offer a headroom of slightly more than 40 inches in the front row. The driver and front passenger have just over 42 inches of legroom and more than 53 inches of hip room.

Compared to previous years, the Forte and Elantra offer a much more quiet ride thanks to major innovations in the powertrain and drivetrain. For instance, the Intelligent Variable Transmission doesn't produce a whole lot of noise as it hunts for gears. However, the turbocharged engine blocks might emit loud rumbles at high RPMs.

When it comes to interior comfort, the 2020 Forte offers an adjustable driver's seat with 10-way positions and a power lumbar support. The 2020 Elantra comes standard with a six-way driver's seat, which doesn't provide the best ergonomics. However, the Integrated Memory System adds an extra level of convenience to this Hyundai sedan. The side mirrors and power driver's seat are controlled by the optional IMS.

A 3.5-inch TFT display is set up in most of the 2020 Forte and Elantra models. Centrally positioned in the instrument panel, this basic monitor shows essential information within the driver's natural field of vision. A 4.2-inch display in the instrument cluster is also available in both sedans. When installed inside the Kia trim, the TFT LCD monitor is known as the Supervision Meter Cluster.

Both compact sedans have plenty of electronic technologies that minimize distractions behind the wheel. Of course, hands-free connectivity is supported by universal Bluetooth technology. Voice commands may be used to interact with Siri through Apple CarPlay. Google applications are readily accessible through the Android Auto portal. These Korean-designed vehicles also offer wireless charging systems that eliminate the hassles of entangled cords and wires in the center console.

The 2020 Forte's Voice Command Navigation System allows the driver to receive guidance without significant distractions. This all-new infotainment console comes with an 8-inch monitor that recognizes touches and other gestures. The sleek display stands freely above the dashboard for easier access and visibility. Round knobs and several flat electronic buttons provide additional ways to browse the navigation system in this Kia sedan.

An 8-inch navigation system is also optional in the 2020 Elantra. However, the touch screen is installed inside the dashboard, so there may be some visibility and accessibility issues. The display is flanked by multiple air vents, so the driver may not be comfortable when the heating or cooling settings are maximized.

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When handling the 2020 Forte or 2020 Elantra, the driver may avoid some accidents if the Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist takes action. Both compact sedans offer smooth commutes thanks to the Smart Cruise Control. When engaged, the SCC maintains a safe gap relative to other vehicles that are ahead. The brakes might be activated automatically by the FCA or SCC when there's an increased risk of a crash.

Both sedans offer the Blind-Spot Collision Warning, which heightens the driver's awareness of blind areas in adjacent lanes. When another car invades the driver's blind spots, audible alerts and visual warnings will be issued. The Forte and Elantra are also equipped with the Lane Keeping Assist, which provides lane-centering leverage after an unintentional drift. The LKA gently overrides the steering system if the wheels aren't properly aligned with lane markers.

Exclusively installed in the Forte GT Manual edition, the Lane Keeping Assist-Line provides enhanced steering adjustments. This high-end Kia trim also boasts rear parking sensors that enhance the driver's confidence on narrow side streets. With supplemental cues from the Parking Distance-Warning Reverse, the driver may avoid low-speed collisions while backing up.

The Forte's transmission system is fully synced with the Rear-Camera Display. When the driver shifts the gearbox into reverse, live recordings automatically appear on the 8-inch touch screen above the dashboard. Similarly, the Elantra offers the Rearview Camera for enhanced visual guidance. The driver in this Hyundai model should use the Dynamic Guidelines as reference points for aligning the wheels with any visible markers or barriers.

Both sedans have the Driver Attention Warning, which discourages drowsy or fatigued driving. The DAW generates messages and issues audible alerts in the instrument panel. Optional in the Elantra, the Safe Exit Assist greatly appeals to families that travel with young children. The SEA prevents kids from opening the rear doors when another car quickly approaches from behind.

The High Beam Assist is a driving aide that's available in the 2020 Forte and Elantra. Oncoming motorists will surely appreciate the HBA technology that reduces blinding effects. Additionally, the Kia model boasts the Auto-Leveling technology for the LED headlamps. LED rear combination lights also make the Forte more visible to drivers that approach from behind.

Which Has the Best Value

Starting at slightly under $18,000, the 2020 Forte FE is loaded with premium amenities. An 8-inch touch display, Android Auto and the Driver Attention Warning are some technological highlights inside this base trim. Priced at just above $19,000, the 2020 Elantra SE base edition lacks many of the standard amenities that are included in the base Kia model. For instance, the entry-level Hyundai model has a display that only measures 5.0 inches.

Topping off the 2020 Forte's lineup, the GT Manual version has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of just more than $23,000. Some exclusive amenities that are installed in this high-tier Kia model include front seats with the SOFINO design and D-shaped steering wheel. A sunroof and fog lights are some other high-end amenities that offer tremendous value in utility.

Having an MSRP that slightly exceeds $24,000, the 2020 Elantra Sport offers good value in performance and comfort. However, this high-level Hyundai trim only gets the most advanced technologies on the lineup from expensive packages. For example, the Ultimate Package increases the retail price by up to $3,500 at the dealership. Consumers won't have to spend as much money to get an 8-inch navigation system and other premium technologies in the 2020 Forte.

In the digital connectivity category, the 2020 Forte offers great value through the UVO eServices. Compatible with most smartphones, the signature services include the Parking Minder, Points of Interest, Maintenance Alerts and other apps. Similar features are available through Hyundai's Blue Link suite. However, the most advanced Blue Link plans aren't compatible with the low-level Elantra trims.

Equipped with an eight-speaker sound system that's made by the Harman Kardon company, the 2020 Forte offers awesome value in entertainment. Output from the speakers is fine-tuned by the Clari-Fi technology. Even though it offers eight speakers from the Infinity brand, the Elantra is simply not on par with the Forte.

Which is Better?

Offering three engine blocks, the 2020 Hyundai Elantra is suitable for drivers who want a handful of options under the hood. Since it comes with a slightly lower price tag, the 2020 Kia Forte offers better value in digital technology thanks to a standard 8-inch display. Offering automatic braking and plenty of alert systems, both compact sedans match each other in the active safety category.

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