Compact Car Comparison: Forte Vs Civic, Corolla, Golf, Elantra, Sentra

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If you’re in the market for a sporty small car, this compact car comparison is just what you're looking for. The compact has always been popular ride. Plus they’re great on gas, easy on the pocketbook, and fun to drive.

Up until recently, it’s been a bit repetitive with heavy hitters like Honda, Toyota, and Volkswagon dominating the segment on repeat for decades.

But it’s 2021. Everything has changed. So, why not this too?

So today we're going to compare the most popular compact cars on the market. These six cars are:

  • Honda Civic DX
  • Toyota Corolla L-CVT
  • Volkswagon Golf (comfortline)
  • Hyundai Elantra Essential (with smartsense package)
  • Nissan Sentra S+
  • KIA Forte EX

All models are the base model – or close to the base model – and are similar in price. And the winner may surprise you! Read on and don't forget to check out the chart below. Plus, it's comprehensive and we've put hours of research into it so you don't have to.


This comparison was a tough nut to crack. And if you’re in the market for a compact, you know what I mean. Comparing these cars has been nothing short of a headache. Case in point, the only feature all 6 cars have in common is a rear-view camera.

They can’t even agree on wheels:

  • KIA Forte and Golf boast 16” alloys
  • Elantra has 15” alloys
  • Civic and Sentra have 16” steel wheels
  • And poor Corolla rolls up last on a set of toy 15” steel wheels


Let’s get this comparison off the ground with a quick look at what’s missing. There are a few glaring missteps here that just don’t make a lot of sense.

  • If heated front seats are on your list, you can rule out the Corolla, and Golf.
  • The Golf is the only vehicle without remote keyless entry.
  • The Golf is missing key safety features that all other manufacturers give standard like lane keep assist and forward collision avoidance. Plus you have to bump up a trim level for this added safety.
  • Missing from the Corolla are cruise control and heated sideview mirrors. Interestingly, these are all standard on the other models.


KIA Forte and Hyundai Elantra lead the pack with their 5-year 100,000 kms warranties, compared to the rest who only offer a 3- or 4-year warranty. But to match that out of pocket, it’s an expense of about $600 per year depending on the manufacturer.

The KIA Forte also comes with three features the other models don’t. These must-haves are sideview mirror signal repeaters, wireless phone charger, and a heated steering wheel. Three features you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.


But we're not done yet. Read on for more information on the comparison between the Forte Vs Civic, Corolla, Golf, Elantra, Sentra. Images are at the bottom of the article.


All of them run in the neighbourhood of $22K MSRP including PDI and delivery. Noted exceptions are the Golf (running at hefty $2000 more), and the Honda tipping the scales at over $25k. Which is an interesting thing to note. But at $25k, you could be driving compact crossover like the KIA Seltos or the KIA Soul. Plus, there are a lot of ‘NOs’ in their column for such a leap in price.


All models have a similar 146 hp engine, with the Elantra lagging behind at 139 hp, and the Civic sneaking ahead with 158 hp.


The KIA Forte leads the pack with 434 litres. Toyota Corolla brings up the rear with 371 litres, and the Volkswagon Golf is a close neighbour at 380 litres. But Sentra, Elantra, and Civic are all pretty much similar sitting between 404 and 416 litres.

Total interior volume is pretty similar across the board with the Civic ahead with 2769 litres and the Corolla 2509 litres. But most sit at the 2700 mark.


The real story here is the KIA Forte. We’re officially renaming it the KIA-Yes-That’s-Standard-Forte. However, pointing your attention to the list of checkmarks below the KIA Forte, we’re going to let you make up your own mind.


Here are some images for your own side-by-side comparison.