2022 Volkswagen Jetta vs 2022 Kia Forte

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  • 2022 Volkswagen Jetta

    A blue 2022 Volkswagen Jetta S is angled left.

    Starting at

    $20,365[a]

    2022 Kia Forte

    A black 2022 Kia Forte is angled right.

    Starting at

    $19,090

    43[b]Highway Fuel Economy (mpg)41
    158Standard Horsepower (hp)147
    Avl.Leather SeatsNo

    Compact sedans have always been the great equalizer when it comes to driving something stylish and economical. While many other manufacturers have moved away from sedans, Volkswagen and Kia continue to offer shoppers something safe, affordable, and contemporary in the form of the Jetta and Forte. When it comes to which one has the better features for the newest model year, we break down what you get between the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta vs 2022 Kia Forte and why you might eye one compact sedan over the other.

    New for 2022, Kia has refreshed the Forte with a new front and rear fascia design, indulging in a more sporty look for its compact sedan. A more aggressive grille with the new Kia logo is accented by sharper headlights and a more aerodynamic-inspired lower fascia. A larger infotainment display has also been made available, along with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. You also get the benefit of a new electronic parking brake. The 2022 Kia is available across five different trims, including the FE, LXS, the GT-Line, GT, and GT Manual.

    The all-new 2022 Volkswagen Jetta matches the Forte's updates with its own refreshed outing for the year. The refresh includes an all-new revised powertrain, standard inclusion of the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, and standard features for Wi-Fi compatibility and Car-Net functionality for more user-friendly access to vehicle telematics. Much like the Forte, the Jetta has also undergone an exterior styling upgrade with an all-new front and rear fascia. The front is sleeker with a more aggressive grille, an updated exterior light array, and a vented bumper. The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta is available across four different trims, including the base S trim, the Sport, the SE, and the premium SEL, but performance-oriented buyers should also consider the more powerful Jetta GLI.

  • Performance

    A grey 2022 Volkswagen Jetta SEL is shown from the side driving through a city.

    Turbocharged Power

    Both the 2022 Jetta and 2022 Kia Forte have been designed to be sporty within reason. They're still both front-wheel drive compact sedans, so while they have reduced weight compared to larger segment vehicles, they're also optimized to offer responsive handling and lightweight maneuverability. Both are capable of achieving quick acceleration thanks to their turbocharged offerings. However, the new 1.5-liter inline turbocharged 4-cylinder in the Jetta comes standard, while the Forte's available 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is only found on the top GT and GT Manual trims.

    The lower three Forte trims come with a somewhat underpowered 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with an unremarkable continuously variable transmission. Meanwhile, the Jetta offers you the choice between a traditional 6-speed manual or a modern 8-speed automatic transmission. Opting for the Jetta GLI gives you a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and the option of a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission for maximum performance.

    Fuel Economy Ratings

    The Forte comes up short ever so slightly in the fuel economy department. Both vehicles offer amazing gains in the fuel economy department, with the naturally aspirated Forte achieving an EPA-estimated 31 MPG in the city and up to 41 MPG on the highway. However, the numbers drop fairly significantly with the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine on the Forte, which tops out at an EPA-estimated 27 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway.

    If you're looking for overall better fuel economy across the board, the Jetta delivers whether you opt for the 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission for the standard turbocharged 4-cylinder powertrain. With the automatic, you can look to achieve an EPA-estimated 31 MPG in the city and up to 41 MPG on the highway, matching the Forte for efficiency while providing a far more exciting ride.[b] With the manual transmission, you can achieve an EPA-estimated 29 MPG in the city and up to 43 MPG on the highway.[b]

    Another big factor between the two sedans is that you only get the higher fuel economy with the naturally aspirated 4-cylinder in the Forte, whereas you get the same efficient engine in every 2022 Jetta. That means with the Jetta, you get the power gains from the turbocharger, but with added fuel savings, too. In the case of the Forte, you literally have to choose between one or the other. So in the performance and fuel-saving categories, the edge is certainly in favor of the 2022 Jetta.

  • Style

    A grey 2022 Volkswagen Jetta SEL is shown from the front driving on an open road.

    Eye-Catching Cars

    Both compact sedans offer a lot in the style department. It's one of the toughest categories to judge the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta vs 2022 Kia Forte. On the exterior front, you have a very unique set of quirks for each car, from the LED lights and rear lip spoilers to the individualized fascias that help define the look of each vehicle. You do get some very unique wheel designs for the Jetta that help it stand out among the competition. That's not to say that Forte doesn't have its own sporty wheel designs.

    Interior Designs

    Where you begin to see the deviation in style is with the interior, especially for the Jetta. While the Forte's top trims offer sports seats with Syntex seating materials and exclusive stitching, that pales in comparison to the more upscale offerings in the Jetta. If you opt for the Jetta Sport trim, you also get sport-themed seats within the compact sedan. However, once you move up to the SE, you get heated V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces. But it doesn't end there. With the Jetta, you get even more luxury if you opt for the SEL trim, where you get heated and ventilated high-quality leather seats throughout the cabin. It's a stark comparison between the Syntex sports seats in the Forte and the leather seats in the Jetta.

    You can get a heated leather steering wheel in either vehicle, but the added leather upholstery in the Jetta means that you get that extra edge over the Forte in the style and luxury department, assuming this is something that interests you out of a compact sedan. Even still, having the option is better than not having it, and with the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta, you at least have the option to indulge in the luxury offerings if that's something you're looking for out of a compact sedan.

  • Technology

    The grey interior of a 2022 Volkswagen Jetta SEL shows the steering wheel and infotainment screen.

    Digital Cars

    There's no denying that the updated and refreshed 2022 Kia Forte has an amazing suite of technology at its core. An all-new and larger HD infotainment touchscreen, as well as the standard inclusion of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, helps make it look a lot more enticing to potential car shoppers. The availability of cruise control, steering-wheel-mounted media buttons, Bluetooth support with hands-free voice-activated integration, and wireless charging all help give the Forte a lot of value in the eyes of shoppers.

    However, the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta matches the Forte at each turn. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, along with the availability of wireless charging, Bluetooth voice-activated support, available adaptive cruise control, and Wi-Fi connectivity, all add to the appeal of the Jetta as well. Yet, it goes further than that. The Jetta comes equipped with the Volkswagen Car-Net connectivity suite, enabling drivers to stay updated on their vehicle's health, as well as taking advantage of app-integrated features that enable the ability to remote start, stop, lock or unlock the doors, all from your smartphone. Vehicle tracking, parking reminders, maintenance schedules, and more are all available via the Volkswagen Car-Net functionality.

    Safety Technologies

    The Forte may attempt to level the playing field in the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta vs 2022 Kia Forte debate with the Kia Drive Wise safety suite. It offers all of the available safety features of the modern era of automobiles, from forward-collision alerts and blind-spot monitoring to lane-change and lane-departure assists, as well as parking monitors, guidance, and driver attention warnings. These are all great features, but it's missing one key feature that the Jetta has that the Forte doesn't: IQ.Drive.

    With the 2022 Volkswagen Jetta, the German automaker has matched Kia feature-for-feature in the safety department with pre-collision mitigation safety assists and electronic monitoring services such as autonomous emergency braking and emergency travel assists. But then Volkswagen took things a step further with the Jetta by enabling the availability of IQ.Drive. The semi-autonomous driving suite takes advantage of the embedded safety features, such as the six-stability-enhancing systems and crash response systems, while also utilizing lane following detection, follow distance sensors, and active blind-spot monitoring for a next-generation of semi-autonomous driving capabilities. This puts the Jetta well above the competition, all thanks to the innovative enhancements offered by Volkswagen IQ.Drive technology.

Bud Clary Auburn Volkswagen 47.3356737, -122.2233049.