The ninth-generation Honda Civic will soon see the end of its road.
But having received substantial updates in nearly every year of its existence, it’s hard to call the current Civic old. The Kia Forte is definitely not old, as last year saw the introduction of the second generation model.
As a perennial best-seller in the segment, the Honda Civic always seems to offer what’s needed in a compact car. Although the sales figures may not quite be there for the Forte, it’s steadily improving and the new model is a huge step forward for the Korean automaker. But has it come far enough to topple the Civic?
Value and Content
Both cars are available as either a sedan or a coupe. The Forte currently trumps the Civic by also offering a hatchback version – something the Civic is promising to rectify with the new model next year.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Honda Civic vs 2014 Toyota Corolla
Besides an extra body style, the Forte offers a lot more in the way of options. Dual climate control, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, HID headlights, ventilated front seats and a choice of three engines are all available in the Forte and not in the Civic. The Civic does have a few exclusive options of its own, however, like Honda’s lanewatch camera, rear cross traffic alert and a remote starter.
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With more content available, the Kia can get expensive. Load up a Forte5 with all the options and the price is $28,170 after destination charges. A loaded Civic sedan in contrast only costs $25,160, but has fewer features. At the low end, the Forte is a better deal starting at $16,715 after destination charges compared to the Civic’s entry fee of $19,110.
Power vs Economy
Unless opting for the manual transmission-only Civic Si, all Civic’s come with a 1.8-liter four cylinder engine that makes 143 HP and 129 lb-ft. of torque. As mentioned, the Forte can be had with three different engines that all include an automatic transmission choice. The volume combination for the car is the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 173 HP and 154 lb-ft. of torque match to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Last year the Civic ditched the old lackluster five-speed automatic transmission for a continuously variable unit. Although the engine is decent at best, this new CVT is fantastic. With more power on tap, Forte is the faster of the two cars, but it doesn’t necessarily feel sportier. The Kia’s engine and transmission are good, but nothing spectacular.
And that larger, more powerful engine in the Forte does have a negative impact on fuel economy. Officially rated at 25 MPG city and 33 MPG highway, the Forte5 is significantly less efficient than the lighter Civic sedan that’s rated at 30 MPG city and 39 MPG highway. During our testing, the gap between the two cars shrank though as the Forte5 test model was less than 3 MPG off of the Civic, averaging 31.4 MPG compared to the Civic’s 34.1 MPG average.
The Civic and Forte are two incredibly easy cars to drive. The steering in the Civic is a great mix of effort and responsiveness for an everyday car. It may not be the sportiest compact car anymore, but the Civic still knows its way around a corner. Plus, the small steering wheel gives the car a bit more of a sporty feel.
While on the topic of steering, the Forte’s feels artificial. There are lots of dead spots and the steering weight feels like it fluctuates randomly while driving at low speeds. The rest of the car is very predictable though. Like the engine and transmission, nothing is great, but nothing is bad either.
|Vehicle||2015 Honda Civic||Advantage||2015 Kia Forte 5|
|Engine (as tested)||1.8 L Four-Cylinder||-||2.0 L Four-Cylinder|
|Horsepower||143 HP||Forte||173 HP|
|Torque||129 lb-ft.||Forte||154 lb-ft.|
|Weight||2,754-2,930 lbs.||Civic||2,820-3,122 lbs.|
|Cargo Space||12.5 cubic feet||Forte||23.2 cubic feet|
|Fuel Economy (US)||30 MPG city, 39 MPG highway||Civic||25 MPG, 33 MPG|
|Fuel Economy (CDN)||7.9 L/100 km city, 6.1 L/100 km highway||Civic||9.5 L/100 km city, 7.2 L/100 km highway|
|Observed Fuel Economy||34.1 MPG||Civic||31.4 MPG|
|Top Trim Price(US)||$25,160||Civic||$28,170|
|Top Trim Price(CDN)||$27,150||Civic||$30,480|
Issues with HondaLink
The interior of the Civic drew mixed impressions from us. Some find the design to be boring and a few materials seem out of place. Others on the AutoGuide team find it to be excellent and really like the overall design. The lane watch camera remains a great feature but the HondaLink infotainment system in higher end Civics is terrible. Unresponsive and distracting, it’s more frustrating to operate than MyFord Touch. The design tries hard to mimic a smart phone, but it just doesn’t succeed.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Kia Forte Review
The Kia Forte’s interior is simple, easier to use and not that stylish. And as mentioned, the Forte can be had with some premium features like a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats and HID headlights.
Separated by Space
Like the interior design, we are split on which car offers better driver comfort. The low dashboard and steeply raked hood provides tremendous forward sightlines in the Forte, but some don’t like the overall seating position. The Civic’s driver seat is plusher than Forte’s, but has too much lumbar support built in for many of us.
Headroom, as always, is also an issue in the Civic as anyone around six-feet tall will have their hair brushing the roof liner.
At just 12.5 cubic feet, the Civic’s trunk is on the small side, nearly a cubic foot smaller than the Forte sedan’s.
The rear legroom, head room and arm rests are all quite nice in the Forte, making it one of the better compact cars to spend some in the back of. The rear of the Civic is not as accommodating as the Forte, with less usable headroom and misplaced armrests.
The Verdict: 2015 Honda Civic vs Kia Forte
The Civic and the Forte are both easy to live with, sensible choices. But, the Forte’s value, space and comfort are hard to beat. Add in Kia’s excellent five-year comprehensive/10-year powertrain warranty and it’s enough to give the Forte a narrow victory over the Civic.
2015 Honda Civic
2015 Kia Forte 5