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It’s hard to go wrong with today’s compact sedans from Kia and Honda. For the 2022 model year, both Honda and Kia decided to redesign their cars, and Kia went right Honda’s sales leader with spunky new styling and a long list of standard features. But in this highly competitive segment, is pretty darn good enough to make one a better choice? For sporty driving, we know which one we’d pick.

What’s new for the Honda Civic and 2023 Kia Forte?

Kia redesigned the Forte entirely for 2022. Honda redesigned the Civic, too. The Kia is basically a carry-over car with no real updates for 2023. The big news on the Honda front is that it gets the hybrid powertrain from the Accord as an option next year. But, for 2023, the stylish Civic remains the same.

The Civic starts at about $26,000 and with options can top out at $32,000. The Forte is a value leader, and starts at about $21,000 and even in top-level GT trim tops out at $25,500. We’re not surprised that according to Kelley Blue Book the GT line is the most popular version of the Forte.

The Kia Forte GT has manual or DSG transmission choices

The six speed shifter in a Forte GT
2021 Forte GT Sport | Kia

Most buyers of cars in this segment don’t think about the kind of transmission the car has. They’re all the same, right? Wrong. Both the Civic and the Forte in most trims get a continuously variable automatic transmission. While a CVT is great at saving gas, since it has no gear ratios they sound boring and sap a lot of the fun from driving.

For the GT trim, however, Kia ditches its standard CVT and gives you the option of a three-pedal six-speed manual or a quick-shifting automated manual. Paired with the 201-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Forte GT lives up to its sporting good looks. The GT even comes with sports seats, sporty 18-inch wheels, and wireless charging.

The Honda Civic Hatchback also gets a 6-speed manual box

Interior shot of the 2022 Honda Civic hatchback with the six-speed manual transmission and an all-black cabin
2022 Honda Civic Hatchback with all-black interior | Honda

Thank the gods because the manual lives on in these cars. Not to be outdone, Honda, too, decided drivers want to have a bit of fun. It, too, ditched the CVT transmission in the hatchback Sport and Sport Touring models and offers three-pedal fun. If you get a sedan, you’re stuck with the CVT.

Yes, you can also get a six-speed manual in the Honda Civic Type-R. But, that car will set you back $45,000, if you can find one. The Forte GT is $25,500!

Honda Civic or Kia Forte, they’re very similar

The 2023 Kia Forte GT has a DCT and six-speed option
2023 Kia Forte GT | Kia

It would be hard to go wrong with a Honda Civic or Kia Forte. In base trim, they both offer 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines, CVT transmissions, good warranties, and in every dimension they are within an inch or two of each other.

These two rivals also offer space for five, large touch screens and even get high fuel mileage estimates. Their 2022 styling refreshes, too, made them look like modern cars that will likely look fresh for years to come. But, the Forte at $25,500 in GT line trim with the manual box is hard to beat. Its 201 horsepower optional motor easily outpaces the 180-horsepower motor in the Honda Civic Hatchback. It also beats the Honda on price, with the Sport selling for $26,150. However, to get many of the options that you get on the Forte GT, you have to step up to the $31,250 Sport Touring version of the Honda Civic Hatchback.


DCT or Six-Speed: Which 2023 Kia Forte GT Is Better?