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Kia forte fe vs. lxs

1. Introduction

For the interior, these two trims have almost the same features, with a few exceptions. Both trims have the same air conditioning system, rear-camera display, and the USB/AUX port, but the FE is using the rotary gear shift, whereas the LXS uses the normal gear shift. The LXS model is using the premium tricot cloth seats compared to the normal tricot cloth seat from the FE, plus the LXS model has the driver seat height adjuster with the sliding armrest. Both of the seats on the trims have the 60/40 split-folding rear seats, but the LXS model has the trunk and the rear armrest.

From the exterior, both of these trims have the same headlamps, projector beam headlights, and the cold LED positioning lights. Going to the side, they still have the similarities, regardless of the FE model still having the wheel cover compared to the alloy wheel from the LXS. Both have the solar control glass and the body-color outside door handles, with the exception of the LXS model having the additional turn-signal indicator light on the outside mirrors.

First and foremost, based on the price, the Kia Forte FE is the lower trim amongst the Forte family compared to the Kia Forte LXS. The Kia Forte FE is priced at $17,890, while the Kia Forte LXS is priced at $19,290, making the FE $1400 cheaper than the LXS model.

As Kia introduces its new technology, the Kia Forte is under the spotlight. Today, we will analyze two of them: the Kia Forte FE and the Kia Forte LXS. Each trim model has its own interesting features, and we are going to see what the differences are between these two trims. Learn More about: What year Kia to avoid in our amazing guide 'Introduction to Kia Model Specific Reviews and Features'

2. Features and Specifications

Although CVT sounds like fuel efficiency and horsepower are sacrificed for it, it has a two-pronged approach for the Forte. The FE and LXS use a carryover 2.0-liter inline-four, albeit down on power versus the third-gen model (147 hp versus 161), while achieving an EPA-estimated 31/41 mpg city/highway, up dramatically from the previous generation's 27/37 mpg. An FE in our testing sprinted to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds, a tenth quicker than the last car we tested. The gearbox is the same IVT as the GT, but with simulated shift points tuned for fuel economy, says Kia. Step on the throttle during steady-state cruising and it will kick down like a traditional automatic. The 2.0-liter can be buzzy under wide-open throttle, and there's some drone when ascending to freeway speeds, but it does a decent job of NVH suppression at lower rpm. During sustained driving, almost-simulated engine braking can be felt when lifting off the throttle, similar to Hyundai's Smartstream IVTs in the Elantra and the 2.5-liter Sonata we tested, as well as on Toyota and Lexus models with this transmission.

Kia Forte FE is the base model and is packed with a plethora of features and advanced technology. The car comes with a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine married to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that drives the front wheel of the car. The car is truly designed to provide the user with not only a fast mode of transportation, but also a fun, sporty drive that meets the Kia standard.

2.1. Kia Forte FE

Kia Forte FE is the base model but has a lot to offer. Starting with the heart of the car being a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine boasting an Intelligent Continuously Variable Transmission (IVT), giving you a powerful but smooth ride, transforming horsepower into thrilling performance. Just because it is a base model, Kia did not hold back on anything that has to do with safety. The Forte FE comes standard with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assist-Line (LKA-L), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), and High Beam Assist (HBA), so you can feel safe and sound while you are driving. Also standard on all Forte models is Bluetooth Wireless technology, and it also has LX-USB/Auxiliary input Jack and a USB charger port to keep you connected to everyone while you are on the go. Audio-wise, it comes standard with a 4-speaker audio, SiriusXM, and an 8" Touch-Screen Display with Rear Camera, so you don't have to worry about getting lost or if anyone runs into your vehicle. Continuing on with convenience, Kia has given everyone an Auto Light Control, Cruise Control, Steering Wheel Mounted Controls, and an Overhead Map light, so you don't have to struggle around the car to find any light. Also, access your car without a key! The Forte has a remote keyless entry and trunk opener to get you in and out of your car with ease. Step into comfort with the 6-way adjustable driver's seat and the Dual Glovebox, giving you ample place for storage. Also, the trunk has 60/40 folding rear seats for maximum cargo space, and the cover for the trunk is a luggage hook and the emergency trunk safety release, so you don't have to worry about things sliding around in the trunk, and it keeps the children safe if they were to get in the trunk. Last but not least, the FE model has a fuel economy of 31 combined, 27 city, and 37 highway, to keep you away from the pumps with the rising gas prices. Overall, the Forte FE is a supreme base model car at an affordable price. [1][2]

2.2. Kia Forte LXS

The formal, the Kia Forte LXS model comes with more advanced features and upgraded parts that get the sedan’s performance up a notch. The LXS gains more of the sorely needed amenities, so around $20,000 it’s the range we recommend to start strongly looking at this car. 1080p driving recorder, Wireless Android Auto and Half Offers half rebate are standard on this trim. This LXS also gets Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto® supported wireless. Also, a big plus for enthusiasts, it gets the sportmatic transmission. It might only use IVT transmission, but it does add the possibility of more enjoyable driving. Based on the information on the official page, this is the only trim that gets logo-type accented LED positioning lights, centered door garnish, and chrome window molding. This trim is definitely the best-looking one. Also, as we mentioned before, the absence of safety features is one of the FE’s down points. In the LXS, they start to add more safety features like rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, electronic parking brake (which is safer), forward collision avoidance-assist, and lane departure warning.

3. Performance and Fuel Efficiency

When looking at the performance and fuel efficiency of both trims, there is little difference found here. Both have four-cylinder engines and intelligent variable transmissions (IVT). The FE trim comes with a 2.0L 147 horsepower engine and has a fuel economy of 41 mpg on the highway, 31 mpg in the city and 35 mpg combined. The LXS trim also has a fuel economy of 41 mpg on the highway, 31 mpg in the city and 35 mpg combined. This comes with its multi-link rear suspension and larger 16-inch alloy wheels, smaller engines with the FE and LXS trims coming with a 2.0L and 147 horsepower and a 2.0L 147 horsepower engine compared to the GT trim's 1.6L and 201 horsepower and its 18-inch wheels. Though the GT trim looks to be the most fun to drive, this is focusing on the difference in driving performance compared to the previous model, so GT will not be touched on further in these categories. The addition of an Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) to replace the previous automatic CVT gives a boost in fuel efficiency to both trims, now with all automatic 2020 Forte models being CVT based. This gives an estimated fuel economy of up to 35 mpg compared to previous year models that all reached a peak of 34 mpg. So in terms of pure driving performance, little has changed between the two trims, though the suspension and wheel upgrades with the LXS trim should provide for a slightly sportier feel compared to the FE.

3.1. Kia Forte FE

The FE's lack of available options means it is priced close to the LXS and thus makes it a tough sell. Buyers lured by the sub-$19,000 advertised price should know that the particular Forte is equipped with the six-speed manual and will be very hard to find. Stepping up to the automatic transmission adds $900, bringing the actual starting price for automatic transmission models to $19,495. The price then skyrockets to over $20,000 if you want the available desirable fuel economy package, which includes an upgrade to the LXS's more efficient FE transmission tuning, as well as the IVT automatic, for a $500 increase in MSRP. This is no small premium to pay for a package that does not affordably bring the added LXS features mentioned above.

The base FE gets a stingy 147-hp Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter four mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), but without the LXS's fuel-sipping enhancements. The result is a quite thrifty EPA combined rating of 34-35 mpg, and on our 75-mph real-world highway fuel-economy test, we observed an impressive 41 mpg. Unfortunately, the FE cannot be had with active safety features, so buyers who want the lowest-speed automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist will have to step up to the LXS.

3.2. Kia Forte LXS

Performance of Kia Forte LXS is no doubt good in its own aspects. It has a bigger engine capacity with a 2.0-liter Inline 4 with 16 valves, CVVT, DOHC, and is available with a 4-speed automatic transmission and a 5-speed manual transmission. It can produce a power output of 156 hp @ 6200 rpm and torque of about 144 lb/ft @ 4300 rpm. This makes the car have quite good acceleration since the LXS engine has the highest torque among FE and SX. The CVVT technology will also make the car fuel efficient at high rpm. However, it has the same engine technology as the FE and it also doesn't have powerful performance at low rpm when using the automatic transmission. With the more powerful engine, the LXS has higher fuel consumption than the FE with 25/34 mpg for the manual transmission and 25/33 mpg for the automatic transmission. Although it's not as powerful as the SX, it has good balance performance and fuel efficiency. To improve the balance between power and safety, the LXS uses rear disc brakes combined with ABS, which is more effective than rear drum brakes. For the suspension, the LXS has the same McPherson Strut Front Suspension and coupled Torsion Beam Rear Suspension with coil springs and gas shock absorbers, but with different settings than the FE. All of these improvements make the LXS have better handling than the FE.

3.3. Comparison

Average fuel economy for the LXS is better than the FE with small detail, but its fuel tank is bigger than the FE. So, the distance for the FE and LXS is quite far. When we convert it, the FE is still better than the LXS. Both cars must use regular unleaded gasoline with a minimum AKI of 87, but the FE is good with ethanol too. The material used for both engines is exactly the same, aluminum alloy. With this calculation, the best performance of fuel efficiency is achieved by the Forte FE. The high quality of fuel in the fuel tank using the KOA2 engine makes the Kia Forte an environmentally friendly car. As an alternative, the Kia Forte LXS uses multi-point injection for its engine. For those who do not know what multi-point injection is, look at the carburetor. However, it is quite different from the carburetor. MFI takes gasoline from the fuel tank and sprays it into the intake valve in liquid form, so it's better than a carburetor. But the best performance of fuel efficiency is not only from its engine. We must choose good quality fuel for the car. The right choice for the best and eco-friendly fuel can be achieved with the Kia Forte FE.

4. Price and Value

The Kia Forte FE is the cheapest car that Kia has to offer. With an MSRP of $18,715, it's almost $2,000 cheaper than the LXS. This can be a big deciding factor for a lot of consumers, especially since the FE and the LXS are so similar. For FE, you don't get that much bang for your buck. It still offers the same fuel economy rate as the LXS and a less powerful engine. The standout feature of the FE is that standard safety technology in the form of lane-keeping assist and forward-collision warning. This is the only feature that the FE has and the LXS does not. The base model FE has a lean setup, but costs more than the rivals' base prices, although a slick-shifting manual transmission expressive, and powertrain strong fuel economy are the parts of the Forte story which lead us to think that it's a fine budget-car pick. The Forte FE was put through the paces at a faster-than-average rate, earning a slightly better than typical resale value after three years, and a better-than-typical cost of ownership figure for the same time period. But that comes alongside the Elantra, which posts impressive initial and long-term resale value numbers, and an ever-improving reputation for reliability and durability. Then again, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are known for longevity and low cost of upkeep—despite being top-class in the segment—so projecting cost of usage while the Forte is still relatively fresh could be premature. All in all, it seems that the Forte LXS is a better bang for your buck than the LXS.

4.1. Kia Forte FE

Based on the standard options and the cost of the car, the FE is very high in value at full price. Although it doesn't have as much content as the more expensive trims, it's a viable option for a buyer who just wants a new car without having to buy something used at a similar price. Keep in mind that being significantly cheaper with a similar new car should it be totaled may result in higher insurance costs due to increased comprehensive and collision coverage. [3][4][5][6][7][2]

Safety options consist of 6 airbags (front, front seat, and full-length side curtain), 4-wheel disc brakes, ABS, brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, hill start assist, Vehicle Stability Management, and Electronic Stability Control – all are 2013 federal requirements minus EBM. These excellent safety options make the Forte one of the safest cars in the economy car class.

At $13,865, the FE starts at a full $2k below all other trims. On purchase, the FE is very high in value with power windows (one touch for driver), power and heated mirrors, keyless entry with trunk release, climate control A/C, and a set of 15-inch wheels with full covers as standard options.

4.2. Kia Forte LXS

The 2020 LXS begins at $19,290. At the moment, there is a $1000 bonus cash. It fills the gap towards the nicely-equipped middle of the range S at $20,490. This model represents a half step up in performance with a 147-hp engine, zero to 60 mph acceleration in 8.3 seconds, and 29 mpg overall with the CVT. The S adds a lot of features like an electric driver's seat, blind spot warning, fully keyless entry, and remote commence with the CVT up to $21,990. The base EX at $23,290 feels rather expensive, meaning it encroaches on much better cars, but a loaded LXS might be a good value at 21-22 grand if you can get a good deal. The performance of LXS and S models is the sweet spot within the line, but at the moment they look overpriced compared to some lesser-known competitors offering car and even more features for similar money. The Forte is a new model, and one should expect better deals as time passes. A great warranty and reputable powertrain are Kia's selling points. An excellent finish and European-hunting design are additional bonuses to the level of reliability this brand now signifies.

4.3. Comparison

However, for someone looking for the absolute base model car for its cheap price and good fuel consumption, this may not be the case. The added features in the LXS put a higher weight onto the car's value, making it a less efficient choice over the FE. This value difference can be best justified by comparing the features of a base model car and a mid-higher tier model, but the bottom line is the FE provides a very cheap car with basic useful features.

The FE model comes in at $17,790 USD, while the LXS comes $1,800 over at $19,590. At first glance, this may seem like a big difference for only one tier up, but the LXS sports many key features that the FE lacks. These features include a rear camera display, steering wheel-mounted audio and hands-free phone controls, a 4-speaker tweeter audio system, and an 8-inch LCD touch screen. In addition to these features, the LXS also sports drive mode selecting, automatic emergency braking, and the forward collision-avoidance assist system. All these features make the LXS a much more appealing choice over the FE.

When comparing the price and value of two models of a KIA Forte, drivers will notice the biggest differences in the lowest tier and mid-tier models. The FE model, being the lowest tier, and the LXS being the next tier up, allows drivers to decide whether the value can justify the higher price. You can learn more by reading our article: Forte editions deep dive.


[1] K. D. Klinich, "Survey of Vehicle Controls and Displays," 2023. umich.edu

[2] T. E. Trimble, S. A. Baker, S. M. Russell, and S. Tidwell, "Consumer driving automation system education: A learning and retention assessment," National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence, 2020. vt.edu

[3] D. Chakraborty, K. Buch, and G. Tal, "Cost of Plug-in Electric Vehicle Ownership: The Cost of Transitioning to Five Million Plug-In Vehicles in California," 2021. escholarship.org

[4] C. Lytle, "General Telephone Workers On Strike," scholarworks.moreheadstate.edu, . moreheadstate.edu

[5] F. R. As and P. Custodian, "Mean Thief Steals Children's Gifts," scholarworks.moreheadstate.edu, . moreheadstate.edu

[6] C. PHISTER, "THE DAICFfE? SfTU (Mf," scholarworks.moreheadstate.edu, . moreheadstate.edu

[7] P. V. MAJOR, "THE DAILY KENTUCKY FLAG.," scholarworks.moreheadstate.edu, . moreheadstate.edu​​​​​​​