The slot between Art Kia Rio mini and mid-size cars K5 family sedan, the 2023 Forte sedan specializes in value and moderation. Thrift is the most important feature of his character. It has hints of sportiness, but doesn’t thrill when driven at the limit, even in its sportiest GT guise. It has nice design elements, but isn’t terribly gorgeous. It has ample engine offerings — up to 201 horsepower from a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four — though it’s far from a hot rod. It offers a lot of safety technology, but nothing innovative. Forte is like an inexpensive cup of coffee from the store, which can be better, but it can be a lot worse. The Forte is by no means noisy like its cousin the Hyundai Elantra N, but it is economical, decent, reasonably comfortable and, most importantly, very good value.

What’s new in 2023?

After an invigorating refresh in 2022, the Kia Forte is a transitional model for 2023, but to drop the optional GT Technology Package. The package included FCA Fusion – a suite of driver assistance technologies – and is now standard equipment on Forte GT models equipped with the complimentary dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Pricing and which one to buy

Our pick is the more powerful and sportier GT model, which ditches the Forte’s standard continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) in favor of either a seven-speed dual-clutch or a six-speed manual. We’d go for the paddle shifter for the added driver interaction, even though it costs $700 more than the DCT. Not much extra equipment is required, as in addition to the 201 hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers much quicker acceleration, the Forte GT comes with a host of attractive extras, including 18-inch wheels, sports seats, ambient interior lighting and a bar for wireless smartphone charging.

Engine, transmission and performance

The Forte compact sedan offers two different engine options: a 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. 2.0 liter felt sluggish when we tested it, and the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) didn’t help. The non-turbo engine took 8.2 seconds to propel the Forte to 60 mph at our test track—noticeably slower than the Mazda 3, which got there in 7.0 seconds. However, an additional engine with a capacity of 201 hp. turbocharged brings the Forte closer to performance Volkswagen Golf GTI and Civil Si. At our test track, the manual-transmission GT test car sprinted to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, just off the pace of these two memorable performers. The Forte provides a comfortable and stable ride, but its handling isn’t as exciting as the Stinger-inspired exterior styling would suggest, even in the sportier GT model. In fact, during a recent comparison test of the Forte against the Civic Si and Jetta GLI, we found that the Forte was worked harder to keep up with the rest.

Fuel economy and real mpg

The Kia Forte, particularly those equipped with the less powerful engine and automatic transmission, will have drivers passing gas stations with an EPA highway rating of 41 mpg and a combined fuel economy rating of 34 mpg. If you option the turbocharged GT with a manual transmission, combined fuel economy drops to 26 mpg. During testing Forte GT 2020 Manual we observed 27 mpg combined — slightly better than the EPA rating — and 37 mpg during our 200-mile highway fuel economy test, which is part of our extensive testing regime. For more information on the Forte’s fuel economy, visit EPA website.

Interior, comfort and cargo

The interior of this car impressed us with its minimalist design and high-quality materials. The back seat is roomy enough for two adults, and long trips in the Forte can be taken without complaint. The base model offers all the basic amenities, but things get nicer as you work your way through the different models. Dual-zone automatic climate control is optional, as are heated and ventilated front seats. With the seats up, the Forte holds seven carry-on bags, one more than both of its main rivals, Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.

Infotainment system and communication

The 2022 Forte is a steal given the technology available. An 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Bluetooth and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard, but GT-Line and GT trims come with a larger 10.3-inch display with built-in navigation and SiriusXM satellite radio. All models come with an optional 4.2-inch color display between the sensors, and an optional wireless smartphone charging pad.

Safety features and driver assistance

Kia offers several standard and optional driver assistance functions, including an optional adaptive cruise control feature that uses navigation to predict upcoming bends in the road and reduces vehicle speed in preparation for turns. For more information on the Forte’s crash test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute of Road Safety (IIHS) websites. Key security features include:

  • Standard forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking
  • Standard lane departure warning with assistance system
  • Adaptive cruise control with lane keeping assist is available

Warranty and maintenance

Kia’s powertrain warranty sets it apart from most other manufacturers, with most models only offering a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Forte and Elantra– from a corporate brother, Hyundaiare the only compact cars to offer this standard coverage.

  • The limited warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • The transmission is covered by a 10-year or 100,000-mile warranty
  • No free scheduled maintenance

Technical characteristics


2019 Kia Forte EX

VEHICLE TYPE: front engine, front wheel drive, 5-seat, 4-door sedan

COST FOR TESTING: $23,180 (base price: $22,885)

ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, fuel injection port

Water displacement: 122 cc, 1999 cc
Power: 147 horsepower at 6,200 rpm
Torque: 132 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm

TRANSMISSION: continuously variable transmission with manual gearshift mode

Suspension (front/rear): struts/torsion beam
Brakes (front/right): 11.0-inch ventilated disc/10.3-inch disc
tires: Kumho Majesty Solus, 225/45R-17 91W M+S

wheel base: 106.3 inches
Length: 182.7 inches
Width: 70.9 inches
Height: 56.5 inches
Volume of passengers: 96 cubic feet
Cargo volume: 15 cubic feet
Curb weight: 2,897 pounds

Zero to 60 mph: 8.1 seconds
Zero to 100 mph: 22.3 seconds
Zero to 120 mph: 41.9 seconds
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 8.3 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.9 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.3 sec
Standing ¼ mile: 16.4 seconds at 87 mph
Top speed (limited by governor): 123 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 173 feet
Road resistance, 300 feet in diameter: 0.88g

Recorded: 34 mpg
Highway driving at 75 mph: 41 mpg
Highway distance: 570 miles

Combined/city/highway: 34/30/40 mpg

More features and specifications

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