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The Kia Forte is an often-ignored model in the compact sedan segment. Yet, with considerable cabin space, a slew of standard safety features, and a refreshed design, the small four-door has much to be praised.

Most importantly, Kia’s Forte is one of the cheapest compact cars available today. Even a fully loaded model is under $30,000.

2023 Kia Forte’s exterior and interior design

Although much of the Kia Forte is a carry-over from 2022, the Korean car maker did refresh the exterior design as a background for its reinvented logo. New front and rear design elements provide a more aggressive specimen as an entry into Kia’s improved lineup. Additional fascia vents and LED headlamp signatures make the Forte more competitive in the design department against rival cars from Honda and Toyota.

The interior features the same spacious cabin, which is a welcome find in the compact car segment. However, its above-average and high-quality cabin and ample trunk space sacrifice some occupant comforts compared to other models. 

For the 2022 model, Consumer Reports (CR) claims owners weren’t satisfied with the Forte’s ride comfort. There’s nothing Kia has released yet to mitigate comfort concerns; the last redesign was in 2019. But, there’s plenty more to get you excited about the Forte. For example, the addition of an optional 10.25-inch widescreen navigation display.

2023 Kia Forte’s performance

The base 2.0 MPI I-4 engine will give drivers 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque, which isn’t a considerable amount. Testing from U.S. News & World Report asserts the CVT to which the 2.0-liter is mated is “loud and unrefined.” Still, it will allow you to achieve an EPA-rated mpg of 28 in the city and 39 on the highway; this rises in higher-tier trim models to 30 and 41, respectively.

The Forte’s top-of-the-line spec comes with the turbocharged 1.6-liter GDI I-4 teamed with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT, allotting 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Although fuel efficiency with the manual transmission drops to 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, it’s a much more exciting drivetrain.

2023 Kia Forte’s trim levels

Front view of the new 2023 Kia Forte
2023 Kia Forte | Kia

Kelley Blue Book reports that prices for various Forte trim packages have increased by just $400 from the previous year. After re-shuffling spec levels and the deletion of the GT Technology Package, per a Kia press release, the Forte has the following configurations:

  • LX (formerly the FE): $19,490
  • LXS: $19,990
  • GT-Line: $21,690
  • GT with DCT: $24,190
  • GT with manual transmission: $24,890

The above listing doesn’t include a $1,095 destination fee, KBB says. Still, even the priciest is well below similarly-equipped competitors.

2023 Kia Forte’s safety features

One of the biggest improvements is the Forte’s new safety features. Base models will come standard with Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with pedestrian detection (FCAA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), and Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Kia states. 

Drivers will have to opt for the GT trim levels to get what Kia calls “FCA Fusion.” This is a combination of Front Collision Alert with cyclist detection (FCA-Cyc), Electronic Parking Brake (EPB), Highway Driver Assist (HDA), and Navigation Based Smart Cruise Control (NSCC). These were previously included in the GT Technology Package but will only come on GT trim levels with the DCT.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has yet to test the 2023 Kia Forte. Apart from its child seat restraints and seat belt reminders, the 2022 model saw top marks in everything else in its crashworthiness analysis.

Should you buy the 2023 Kia Forte?

Although competitors in the compact sedan segment may offer passengers better comfort, peppier engines, and a few more creature comforts, there is no arguing about Kia’s affordable price. With the top-of-the-line GT far below $30,000 and the base LX tipping just over $20,000 when you include the destination fee, Kia offers a lot to the budget-minded.

Reliability is in mind when considering a brand-new car. While CR says Kia’s competition can provide better peace of mind on future malfunctions, there is Kia’s industry-leading 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty to consider.


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