A Tale of Two Kias: Forte vs Rio

August 21st, 2020 by

A silver 2020 Kia Rio is driving on a blurred city street near Freehold, NJ.

Deciding on if the 2020 Kia Forte or the Kia Rio is right for you really depends on your needs and which one better matches what you’re looking for in a vehicle. Although these are both four-door sedans, there are some significant differences between these two Kia car models, especially as you look at all of your options. The Forte costs a bit more to start with, but it gives you far more trims to choose from, a more powerful standard engine and much more powerful available engine, and a bit nicer interior. As we said, however, the Forte does cost more, so the Rio is an excellent choice if you want to save some money and don’t need everything the Forte offers.

To really get a sense of which one of these Kia cars is right for you, let’s take a more in-depth look at what each of them has to offer. We at Raceway Kia in Freehold, NJ, are going to lay out both their starting prices and higher trim prices, and the trim levels they have available for you. The engines on these cars are quite different as well, so we’ll check out what they each have to offer. Both of these models are excellent options, so the right one for you really depends on what you need and what you need.

Forte vs Rio – Price Difference

One of the most significant differences between these two Kia car models is the price tag on them, both to start with and at higher trims. The price is a big consideration anytime you are looking to buy a car, so we’ll start here to look at how the 2020 Kia Forte and the Rio compare. This may be enough for you to know which one is right for you, but it’s still worth looking at even if it’s not your primary concern.

The 2020 Kia Forte starts at $17,890 MSRP, while the 2020 Kia Rio starts at $15,850 MSRP. That’s a pretty significant difference between these two models, and while the features in the Forte certainly justify it, you should keep it in mind when considering your options. That’s just for the starting trim, of course, and the price difference continues as you look at different models. For example, the Forte LXS, which is the second trim on it, starts at $19,290 MSRP, while the Rio S starts at just $16,490 MSRP. So, if you are looking for a more affordable option, the Rio is your best bet.

A grey 2020 Kia Forte is driving past a hill with a city in the distance.

Forte vs Rio – Trim Levels

Taking a dive into the different trims can be a pretty easy way to decide which of these two Kia car models is right for you. While both of these cars have a lot to offer, there are some pretty significant differences in the trim levels available and what you get in each. We’ll go into more details on their engines down below, but let’s take a quick look at the trims on the Forte and Rio and see how they stack up. Again, these are both great cars, and this comparison is all about finding the one that’s right for you.

The Forte has six different trims for you to choose from:

  • FE: The Forte FE features a standard 2.0L engine, a 6-speed manual transmission, and cruise control with steering wheel controls. It has an 8-inch Infotainment display and excellent safety features too.
  • LXS: You get the same engine in the LXS, though it has an intelligent variable automatic transmission. Inside, it has a lot of the same features as the FE, with a 3-inch driver display and a 4-speaker audio system.
  • GT-Line: The GT-Line has special details like a sport grille and rear spoiler, along with a D-shaped leather-wrapped steering wheel and alloy sport pedals that make it stand out. You also get a 6-speaker audio system in the GT-Line and LED interior lighting.
  • EX: With the EX, you get additional luxury features and options such as SOFINO synthetic leather trim interior details, power heated and ventilated front seats, and an available sunroof.
  • GT: The GT trim brings more power to the table thanks to a 1.6L Turbo engine and enhanced transmission with paddle shifters. It also has a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats, and great available interior features.
  • GT Manual: You get the same powerful engine in the GT Manual as you find in the GT, but it comes with a manual transmission rather than an automatic, to always keep you in control. Otherwise, this trim has a lot of the same great features and sport details.

In comparison, the Kia Rio has just two trims available:

  • LX: The Rio LX features a standard 1.6L engine with Intelligent Variable automatic transmission, air conditioning, and a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat. It has a 7-inch Infotainment display and terrific safety features.
  • S: When you upgrade to the S trim, you get available LED headlights, remote keyless entry, and additional standard and available safety features. The S also has cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls.

As you can see, you get a lot more options and choices with the Forte. However, if you don’t need all of those available features and different options, then the Rio is still a fantastic pick.

Kia Forte vs Rio – Engines and Performance

A 2020 Kia Rio, one of the smallest Kia car models, is in front of a city park.

Although both of these Kia car models have great engines, we’ll admit that you get more power in the 2020 Kia Forte than in the Rio. Even if you only look at their standard engines, the one you get in the Forte is more powerful than in the Rio. Plus, the Forte has a second, even more powerful, engine available on some trims, to take performance a step further.

Looking at starting options, you get a 2.0L I-4 engine in the Kia Forte that delivers up to 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. It comes paired with either a 6-speed manual transmission or an intelligent variable transmission, depending on the trim you choose. Additionally, it gets an estimated 29 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway, for 33 MPG combined. The 2020 Kia Rio, on the other hand, comes with a 1.6L I-4 engine that offers up to 120 hp and 112 lb-ft of torque, with an intelligent variable transmission. The Rio gets an estimated 33 MPG in the city, 41 MPG on the highway and 36 MPG combined – so it does offer slightly better overall fuel economy.

For serious power, however, the Forte also has an available 1.6L Turbocharged I-4 engine that delivers up to 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. This comes with either a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters or a 6-speed manual transmission. With this engine, the Forte only gets an estimated 27 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway, but you really don’t choose it for fuel economy; you choose it for the power. And if you want power, the Kia Forte is indeed the better choice.

Some Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve taken a pretty good look at these two Kia car models, we have a great sense of what each of them has to offer. Deciding on the right one really depends on what you’re looking for and what you need. If you want optimal performance, a luxurious interior, and lots of trim options, then the Kia Forte is the car for you. On the other hand, if you want to save some money, prefer greater fuel efficiency, and don’t need a ton of trim choices, then the Kia Rio is the perfect pick.

No matter which model is right for you, we can help. Call or visit us at Raceway Kia today to see the Forte and Rio for yourself, and we’ll make sure you drive away in the right car.