Family feud: Similar Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte go head to head

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Family feud: Similar Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte go head to head

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The 2017 Kia Fortes range from $16,490 for the LX to $21,200 for the EX. Photo by Metro Creative Graphics

Using a Venn diagram seems like the easiest way to describe the relationship between Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motor Corp. Let’s see … Hyundai owns a one-third portion of Kia … Kia owns shares in several Hyundai subsidiaries.

All of which occasionally blurs the lines of the two automakers’ vehicles. Take their compact sedans. Hyundai has the Elantra. Kia has the Forte. If you are looking at buying a Korean car, does it really matter?

It just might. Let’s take a look and you can decide.

Both sedans come in three trims with similar price points. Fortes range from $16,490 for the LX to $21,200 for the EX. Elantra range from $17,150 for an SE to $22,350 for a Limited. We drove the midpoint entry of each, the new Forte S ($19,200) and the Elantra Eco ($20,650). While we are going to focus on the sedan here, it should be noted that the Elantra has a five-door GT version and Fortes also come in a five-door hatchback and two-door Koup.

The engines we sampled were different with each having its pluses. Our Elantra utilized a 128-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and came off the line with 155 lbs.-ft. of torque. The Forte engine was a 147-hp, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 132 lbs.-ft. of torque and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. While neither is electrifying, each is adequate.

Even though the Forte we drove was the “sporty” version and came with a drive mode select, the Elantra seemed just as nimble and came with a drive mode select of its own that allowed for a sport-like feel.

Both cars are light years ahead of where they were in appearance years ago. The Forte might inch ahead here with its arched roofline that exudes a more European vibe.

The interiors are close in the fact that both provide straightforward layouts and controls, which is largely what you would expect in this category. As the sizes are near mirrors, so to is passenger space. The Forte roofline, a positive on the outside, does take away a smidgen of headroom for backseat passengers.

Among the strengths of the Elantra and Forte are the bang-for-the-buck factors. Each comes with a bevy of features that include a 7-inch color touchscreen and rearview camera and Bluetooth wireless technology. While the Elantra Eco gets some of nice touches like heated front seats and blind-spot detection, the Forte S matches most with an S Technology Package that brings along a push-button start and forward collision warning system while nearly matching the Eco’s price.

Separating the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte might take a sharp eye, but the value that each offers makes each worth a look.

David Mikesell is a free-lance automotive reviewer based in Indianapolis.

2017 HYUNDAI ELANTRA ECO

  • Price/As-tested price………………… $20,650/$21,610
  • Mileage…………………………………… 32 mpg/city; 40 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower…………………………… 128 hp/156 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission……………………………………… 7-speed dual clutch automatic
  • Drive wheels……………………………………… Front-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………………………………… Montgomery, Ala.

2017 KIA FORTE S

  • Price/as-tested price………………… $19,200/$21,585
  • Mileage…………………………………… 29 mpg/city; 38 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower…………………………… 147 hp/132 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission……………………………………… 6-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels……………………………………… Front-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………………………………… Pesquería, Nuevo León, Mexico

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