Skip to main content

The compact car segment is packed with similar models battling against each other on fuel economy, standard features, and price. While some parent companies may share platforms, drivetrains, and interiors between models, it doesn’t mean each is the same. Hyundai Motor Group builds both Hyundais and Kias. Despite that, there are clear differences between the 2023 Hyundai Elantra and the 2023 Kia Forte.

The Elantra gets better gas mileage

The 2023 Hyundai Elantra N Line driving around an airfield
2023 Hyundai Elantra N Line | Hyundai

The base Forte’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder may be slightly underpowered for the class, but it’s fuel efficient. With an EPA-rated 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway, it’s more than enough to impress consumers. The base Elantra has the same engine but will allot more travel on less fuel.

It may not be much, but the Elantra will achieve five more mpg in the city and three more mpg on the highway in its most efficient configuration, the EPA says. Both brands offer peppy 1.6-liter turbo-fours, but the Hyundai has the Kia nixed there as well. The 2023 Hyundai Elantra in the N Line trim level will provide 30 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

The Kia has an unrefined CVT

A new Kia Forte shows off its aggressive styling for a cheap car, which is much more aggressive than the 2022 Kia Rio.
2023 Kia Forte | Kia

A fuel-efficient engine is a welcome sight in a compact car. But when it’s paired with a buzzy gearbox, the downside becomes apparent. U.S. News reviewers say the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) in the Forte isn’t very smooth in various driving conditions. They claim it’s “loud and unrefined.”

Despite their mechanical similarities, reviewers enjoyed the acceleration and downshifting from the Elantra more. They claim the Hyundai’s CVT is smooth-shifting, allowing “snappy” throttle response. Moreover, reviewers assert it can pass vehicles at highway speeds better than the Kia.

The Elantra’s interior isn’t as nice for the price

2023 Hyundai Elantra N White
2023 Hyundai Elantra N | Hyundai

The 2023 Kia Forte ranks near the top of the compact car class in terms of excellent interiors. Yes, there is an abundance of hard plastics, which is expected for a vehicle in the low $20,000 range. Regardless, it’s well-built, modern, and has more than acceptable attractiveness in the segment.

Hyundai’s Elantra may have chrome accents and soft-touch surfaces, but U.S. News reviewers think it isn’t enough compared to the rest of the car. They believe the Elantra is designed to punch above its weight with a luxurious feel for the price. But its equal abundance of hard plastics compared with the Forte is a downside for the Elantra.

How do the 2023 Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte compare in price?

Given they’re corporate cousins, the Elantra and Forte have much in common. Much of the difference between them may come down to the preference of the potential buyers. But there is one clear distinction between the two compact cars.

The entry-level 2023 Kia Forte LX has a starting MSRP of $19,490. It’s one of the last remaining base models under $20,000. On the other hand, the 2023 Hyundai Elantra SE starts at $20,500. A $1,010 difference may not be the most significant factor in a new purchase. However, the Forte offers nearly everything the Elantra does for a lower price.


These Kia and Hyundai Models Deemed ‘Uninsurable’ Following Instructional Theft Videos Shared on Social Media