Wireless smartphone integration is standard
Great powertrain warranty
Driving experience low on thrills
GT Technology Package dropped
After an update for 2022, the 2023 Forte is mostly unchanged
Price: The 2023 Kia Forte starts at $19,490, plus a destination fee of $1,095.
The 2023 Kia
Forte compact sedan doesn’t redefine its class or push any boundaries, but it can be cheap to buy and run while adding a bit of driveway appeal with its styling.
This review is really a tale of two Fortes, with the base FE representing the best of times spent at a gas station and the manual-transmission GT being the worst, or at least the most frequent visitor.
The two engines offered in the 2023 Forte make all the difference. The non-turbocharged one turns this car into an easygoing suburban runabout. The turbo unit will inspire owners to want to head out of town in search of more entertaining roads.
Two engines, one body. Distinct-looking on the outside, roomy enough for four grown-ups on the inside, and a trunk that’s one of the most spacious in this kind of car.
It’s still a wise move to investigate the Honda
Civic and Mazda3
not just for the way they drive, but also for their refinement. But if the finances are a little tighter, a new Forte could be a sweet choice.
Also see: The 2023 Mazda3 is fun to drive and a cut above the mainstream
The 2023 Kia Forte
2023 Kia Forte pricing
The 2023 Kia Fote Forte LX compact sedan starts at $19,490, plus a $1,095 destination charge. The LXS, at $19,990, is $500 extra. As a GT-Line model, the Forte begins at $21,690.
Getting into the Forte GT costs $24,190, for a model equipped with the dual-clutch automatic transmission. Fitted with a manual transmission, the 2023 Kia Forte begins at $24,890.
Most options are relatively minor in significance and price. A self-dimming rearview mirror with a garage door opener, for instance, is about $350.
Anyone considering a brand-new compact sedan should also check out the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Mazda3 — the top trio in this class. Each one starts out with a price in the low $20K range.
Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to find out what others in your area paid for their new Forte. Honda and Toyota
are the usual leaders in terms of resale values. The Forte is merely average.
Check out: The cars, trucks and SUVs with the best resale value
Driving the 2023 Kia Forte
The LX, formerly known as the FE, is the most fuel-efficient version of the 2023 Forte compact sedan range, averaging around 35 mpg. It’s also the cheapest to buy. But it’s tuned more for economy than excitement.
The same can be said of the LXS and GT-Line models, since they all share a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter engine. The ride quality is fine, though not especially sporty.
Things improve, though not dramatically, in the GT model with its bespoke sport suspension and punchier turbocharged engine delivering 201 horsepower. This car even brings the best transmission of the lineup, the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. It’s more responsive than the sluggish and drone-prone continuously variable transmission (CVT) paired to the 2.0-liter engine. It also returns superior fuel economy compared with the 6-speed manual also offered in the GT.
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Kia has taken inspiration from premium European cars for the 2023 Forte’s cabin. It corrals all the switches and other controls into a tidy arrangement. And the quality of the materials is absolutely acceptable for this price bracket.
Rear legroom of 37.5 inches beats the Toyota Corolla’s 34.8. The Honda Civic pretty much matches the Forte with 37.4 inches. Trunk space of 15.3 cubic feet definitely puts the Forte ahead of the Civic and Corolla.
Read: It’s sexy, it’s fast. It’s…the new Toyota Prius?
Anyone taking a keen interest in Kia styling will have probably noticed that there’s a fresh set of metaphorical pencils in the company’s design studio. The K5 midsize sedan and new Sportage compact SUV are at the forefront of this bold approach, which was also applied to the Forte compact sedan when it received an update last year.
It all adds up to this thing looking sharper than the creases in Jeff Goldblum’s Oscar-party pants. That zing is blunted a little by the base LX’s 15-inch steel wheels and plastic covers, but the alloy rims on the rest of the range do more than just provide a place for the tires to go. The GT Line and GT models have aerodynamic additions to underline their sportiness.
Not every color is available with every trim level, but there’s a good chance that buyers can find something acceptable within their budget.
GT’s turbocharged engineWith the automatic transmission, this engine isn’t much thirstier than the 2.0-liter unit in the lower trims. And the way it livens up the driving experience will definitely make some buyers feel that it’s worth the extra money.
10.25-inch infotainment touchscreenThis comes in at the GT Line trim level. It has clear graphics and just looks more modern, since the trend is for bigger screens. The system itself is also user-friendly.
Even though most new cars have it these days, it’s good to see forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking fitted as standard in the 2023 Forte. It also has a lane-departure warning and lane-following assist.
Other standard equipment includes 15-inch steel wheels, single-zone air conditioning, cloth upholstery, 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless Apple
CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, Bluetooth, USB port, an auxiliary audio input jack, and four speakers.
In a bit of notable news, FCA Fusion — which combines Front Collision Alert with an electronic parking brake, Highway Driver Assist, and navigation-based active cruise control — has been added as standard equipment to the Forte GT model with DCT.
Also see: The 9 things that are most likely to affect your auto insurance rates
Bringing more equipment into a new Kia Forte happens by choosing a higher trim level. For example, the LXS trim comes with 16-inch alloy wheels and offers an LXS Technology package adding blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, plus Safe Exit Warning and mirror-mounted turn signal indicators.
Once at the GT Line level, these extras become standard, along with 17-inch alloy wheels, halogen-projection headlights, keyless entry/ignition, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth/simulated leather seating surfaces, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, satellite radio, and six speakers.
The optional bundles for the GT Line are a Premium package — with a power sunroof, navigation-based smart cruise control, Highway Driving Assist, cyclist detection, wireless charging, plus an 8-speaker/320-watt Harman Kardon audio system — and a Sport Premium package bringing sport front seats that are heated and ventilated (the driver’s seat is also 10-way power-adjustable), along with a not-particularly-sporty rear USB charging port.
The actual Forte GT model (not the GT Line) comes with a more powerful 1.6-liter engine and the 7-speed dual-clutch automated transmission. This setup is complemented by a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, wireless charging, Harman Kardon audio, blind-spot monitoring, and FCA Fusion.
The manual-transmission GT is a little more expensive, but its standard equipment goes beyond the stick shift and third pedal. It has most of the above equipment (including the Harman Kardon audio) plus Michelin
Pilot Sport 4 summer tires.
Engine and transmission
The LX, LXS, and GT Line versions of the 2023 Forte have a naturally aspirated (no turbos or anything similar) 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft. An automatic transmission sends that to just the front wheels.
The GT model has a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine generating a more entertaining 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is the arrangement here as well, although the GT offers the choice of a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed automated transmission.
Drivers wanting to keep the stick-shift flame alive are welcome to check out the pricier manual-transmission GT. But the difference in fuel economy and the likelihood of finding an interested buyer at resale time makes the 2-pedal variant a better bet.
Regular gasoline is fine with either engine.
2.0-liter inline-4 (LX, LXS, GT Line)147 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm132 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/41 mpg (LX), 28/39 mpg (LXS, GT Line)
1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 (GT)201 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm195 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg (manual), 27/35 mpg (auto)
KBB’s car review methodology.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.