For all of the talk about automakers looking to get out of the small car market, a lot of small sedans still float around on the lots of dealers of several brands, including Kia and Volkswagen.

The small sedan segment is highly competitive, and Kia and VW are two big players. Leading the way are the 2024 Kia Forte and 2024 Volkswagen Jetta.

Let’s compare the 2024 Kia Forte and 2024 Volkswagen Jetta and find the right compact for you.

2024 Kia Forte

The 2024 Kia Forte is a fantastic value. It’s an excellent combination of looks, capability, technology, and size.

The base engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. A sporty GT model turns this humble Kia into a veritable sport compact. There are five trim levels available: LX, LXS, GT-Line, GT, and GT 6MT.

That last iteration gets you a 6-speed manual transmission that gives you plenty of punch for knifing through traffic or ensuring you easily merge onto the highway. Perhaps even more impressive is that the highest-priced Forte is only slightly more than the starting range for its competition. Pricing starts at $21,145, including the destination charge.

Kia Forte Highlights

Excellent warranty: Kia is known as the leader in this department. It offers owners a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is the best in the industry. If you haven’t driven the Forte for a decade, it’s good to know there may still be some warranty left, which can help with resale. Jetta’s 4-year/50,000-mile warranty and powertrain warranty look measly in comparison.

Gas miser: Kia’s 2.0-liter 4-cylinder prioritizes efficiency over performance, which means more money in your pocket and out of the coffers of gas station owners. The Forte’s combined mpg average is 32, among the top in the segment. Even the hopped-up 1.6-liter turbo powerplant gets 26 mpg combined. The Jetta’s base engine beats the Forte’s, but it is a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder.

Roomy and comfortable: Although not huge outside, the Forte is plenty big inside. It’s also well equipped with safety tech like a collision warning system, lane departure warning system, pedestrian detection system, and a raft of airbags around the passengers. The Jetta counters with a few inches of rear-seat legroom, but Forte throws in two extra inches of shoulder space to trump.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Sportage models for sale near you.

2024 Volkswagen Jetta

2024 Volkswagen Jetta GLI in silver.

The 2024 Volkswagen Jetta features a simple look on the outside. The appealing and uncomplicated styling one expects from a German sedan tells you, “I’m a safe choice, so you should pick me.”

The Jetta hasn’t changed much for the past few years, and with its clean lines, that’s not all bad. Inside, you get a roomy cabin carrying that simple yet sophisticated theme. The Jetta features plenty of technology, which can be upgraded as you move through its six trim levels: S, Sport, SE, SEL, GLI 40th Anniversary, and GLI Autobahn.

The Jetta should be among your early selections if you want a smart-looking package with a 6-speed manual and good fuel economy. It’s powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, putting out 158 hp. It won’t snap your neck when pulling away from the light, but you won’t fear for your life merging with highway traffic either. Pricing starts at $22,660, including the destination charge.

Volkswagen Jetta Highlights

Safety smarts: Every Jetta with an automatic transmission comes standard with the IQ.Drive safety technology suite. It includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, emergency stop assistance, and adaptive cruise control. The Jetta received a 5-Star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), while the Forte rated four stars.

Fuel sipper: The Jetta offers outstanding fuel economy with 31 mpg city/42 highway/35 combined in the base model with a 6-speed manual transmission. An excellent place to be that doesn’t make many demands on your wallet is appealing. While the Forte is also appealing, the base Jetta wins the fuel economy crown.

Row your own gears: Both the Jetta and the souped-up Jetta GLI can be ordered with a six-speed manual transmission, an enthusiast’s choice. Only the GT 6MT version of the Forte offers a manual.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Jetta models for sale near you.


They’re good on gas and have good warranties and plenty of warranty coverage. They can also be had with a manual transmission, an increasingly rare option.


Neither will overwhelm on the performance side, and they’re safe, reliable vehicles with plenty of dealerships around the country to ensure service shouldn’t be an issue. So you will have to decide whether it is angular style or more straightforward, clean looks. If an extended warranty is important to you, it’s a win for the Forte.

2024 Kia Forte 2024 Volkswagen Jetta
Starting Price $21,145 $22,660
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.0-liter 4-cylinder 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower 147 hp @ 6,200 rpm 158 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm 184 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic 6-speed manual
Fuel Economy 28 city/39 highway/32 combined mpg 29 city/42 highway/34 combined mpg
Also Available 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder, 6-speed manual 2.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder, 8-speed auto, 7-speed DSG
Basic Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 10 years/100,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 4 stars 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 106.3 inches 105.7 inches
Overall Length 182.7 inches 186.5 inches
Width 70.9 inches 70.8 inches
Height 56.5 inches 57.7 inches
Turning Diameter 34.8 feet 36.7 feet
Headroom, Front 38.8 inches 38.5 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.5 inches 37.3 inches
Legroom, Front 42.2 inches 41.1 inches
Legroom, Rear 35.7 inches 37.4 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 56.1 inches 55.9 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.3 inches 53.5 inches
Cargo Volume 15.3 cubic feet 14.1 cubic feet

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