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Potential buyers sifting through the vast compact sedan segment want to know they’re getting the biggest bang for their buck. With base prices below $20,000 and range-topping models just a few thousand above, there’s incredible value in a fun-size four-door. But it can be challenging to discern the best trim level, especially with all the optional extras available. The 2023 Kia Forte has numerous high points, including four trim levels—each with increasingly large wheels—but which is best?

What does the base 2023 Kia Forte trim level offer?

2023 Kia Forte GT
2023 Kia Forte GT | Kia

Under the hood of the base Kia Forte LX is a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to a continuously variable transmission. With an EPA-rated 30 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway, it’s built for efficiency. On the inside, cloth upholstery comes standard. Yet, the Forte has a wealth of entertainment and tech features.

The LX gets a Bluetooth-capable eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with a four-speaker stereo and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, driver-attention monitoring, and forward collision warning. Additionally, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, pedestrian detection, rear occupant alert, and a rearview camera with parking guidance. Despite the Forte LX’s host of impressive features, it has a welcome starting MSRP $19,690, per Kia.

The mid-range trim levels

2023 Kia Forte
2023 Kia Forte GT interior | Kia

For $500 more, the LXS trim gets potential buyers soft-touch interior surfaces and split-folding rear seats to enhance cargo space. Fuel economy does drop by two mpg in city and highway conditions. The powertrain is the same, but the LXS has 16-inch alloy wheels compared to the LX’s 15-inch steel wheels. With another $500, Kia will throw in the LXS Technology package. It adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and vehicle-exit warning.

The GT-Line 2023 Kia Forte has an MSRP of $21,890. The trim level gains the LXS Technology package, sports seats with synthetic leather inserts, and a flat-bottomed leather-wrapped steering wheel. It also includes sporty body styling cues, 17-inch alloy wheels, alloy sports pedals, and LED daytime running lights. A larger 10.25-inch touchscreen has navigation, satellite radio, and a six-speaker audio system. Unfortunately, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are wired functions on the GT-Line. However, it can be offset by gaining dual-zone automatic climate control, a hands-free trunk, keyless entry, and a push-button start.

The $300 GT-Line Technology package adds adaptive cruise control, cyclist detection, an electronic handbrake, and highway-driving assist. A $1,700 GT-Line Premium package includes the previous contents, interior LEDs, a Harman Kardon eight-speaker stereo, a sunroof, and wireless charging. Lastly, the GT-Line Sport Premium package adds full synthetic leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a rear USB port, and a rear air-conditioning vent for $1,000.

The top-of-the-line 2023 Kia Forte GT

2023 Kia Forte
2023 Kia Forte GT | Kia

The range-topping Kia Forte GT features the extra packages optional on the GT-Line. For $24,390, the GT swaps the base engine for a peppy 201-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters is standard. But a six-speed manual is available for $700 more for those who want to row their own gears.

A sports-tuned suspension with a multi-link rear setup is a plus for performance-inclined potential buyers. Also, a dual exhaust will enliven the spirited engine’s growl as its 18-inch alloys spin down the road.

Which trim level is worth it?

According to consumer analysis, Edmunds says the 2023 Kia Forte with the LXS trim is the most popular. The LXS is only $500 more than the base LX and features nice touches making the interior more attractive. Likewise, the split-folding rear seats extend the already ample 15.3 cubic feet of cargo space. Nevertheless, reviewers seem to like the GT-line the best. If potential buyers want to spec their compact sedan to the max, it’s the trim level to pick. But that’s only if one can handle wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functions over wireless ones,

For others searching for a mini-sports sedan, however, the 2023 Kia Forte GT is an excellent pick. As one of the few small stick-shift cars left, it will undoubtedly make traveling more engaging.


Edmunds Says This 2023 Kia Forte Trim Level Is the Most Popular