Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A silver 2023 Kia Forte for sale is shown driving along a highway at sunset.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Kia Forte?

While sedans might not be as popular as they once were, car buyers still have plenty of options to choose from, including popular models like the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. The Kia Forte is a compact sedan that’s been in production since 2008. Deciding on a model can be tough in such a crowded field, and it can be helpful to break information down in a way that’s easy to understand.

If you’ve seen a Kia Forte for sale at a dealership near you and are wondering whether it’s the right choice for you, then you’ve come to the right place. Today we’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of this Korean car. Once you get a sense of whether its strengths and weaknesses line up with your priorities, it should be pretty easy to decide whether it’s a good fit for your driving needs or not.

Pro: Affordable

Since sedans don’t require as much material as crossovers and SUVs, and are also less popular these days, they’re generally less expensive. Their lightweight design makes them more fuel efficient too, saving you from pain at the pump over the long run. Even among other sedans in its class, the Forte stands out as being especially affordable. The 2023 Toyota Corolla has a starting MSRP of $21,500, while the 2023 Honda Civic starts at $23,450. That’s not even to mention luxury options like the 2023 Audi A3, which starts at $35,400. By contrast, the 2023 Kia Forte has a starting MSRP of $19,690, one of the few available for under $20,000.

Con: Base Engine Not Too Thrilling

The Forte’s base engine is reliable and efficient, but if you’re looking for a sporty sedan, then it’s probably not going to impress. With 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque, it’s not going to set acceleration records anytime soon. However, those looking to get a little more excitement out of their drive do have options in the Forte lineup. The GT trim features a 1.6L turbocharged engine that can provide 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque for a little more get up and go.

A white 2023 Kia Forte GT-Line is shown driving under a highway bridge.

Pro: Fuel-Efficient Options

The Forte is a solid choice for drivers looking to avoid pain at the pump. Luckily for shoppers on a budget, the most basic trim with the base engine offers the best fuel economy, with an EPA rating of 34 MPG city/highway combined. That’s significantly better than the 2023 average of 28 MPG, according to the EPA. Whether you commute every day or like to take longer road trips, that adds up to some significant savings over time.

Con: Manual Transmission Is Not So Efficient

Unfortunately for enthusiasts looking for optimum control over their ride, the Forte’s GT Manual trim is the only option that does worse than the average 2023 vehicle when it comes to fuel economy. At 26 MPG it’s not exactly guzzling gas, but it doesn’t give you as much savings as other trims, including the GT trim paired with an automatic transmission rated at 30 MPG city/highway combined. On top of cost, the manual’s lower efficiency also gives it a shorter range, able to travel 364 miles on a full tank, where other Forte trims can go up to 476 miles between fill-ups.

Pro: Plenty of Tech Comes Standard

Modern cars often offer plenty of comfort and convenience technology, though these features are often optional or reserved for higher trim levels. While the Forte’s base LX trim doesn’t pull out all of the stops, it does come with a good variety of tech features at no added cost. These features range from safety tech like driver assistance to the car’s infotainment system. Here are just a few of the technologies you can find on the Forte LX:

  • An 8-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you can connect your smartphone to the system cable-free and use familiar apps for navigation, music streaming, and more
  • 4.2-inch digital instrument display, making it easy to keep an eye on vital vehicle information
  • Bluetooth wireless capability, allowing you to take and make phone calls and stream music on the go
  • Steering wheel mounted controls, allowing you to adjust audio settings, control Bluetooth phone calls, change your cruise control settings, and more without taking your eyes off the road for a second
  • Automatic emergency braking, which can help you avoid or lessen the impact of a frontal collision
  • Lane keeping and following assist, which helps you stay centered in your lane while driving on the highway
  • Auto headlight control with high beam assist, which adjusts your headlights automatically based on lighting conditions and surrounding traffic
  • Rear-view monitor with dynamic parking guidance, making it easy to see what’s behind you while in reverse
  • Driver attention warning, which senses when you may be tired or distracted and gives you an alert when you might want to take a quick coffee break
  • Drive mode select, allowing you to choose between Normal, Sport, and Smart modes to optimize your vehicle’s settings for different types of driving

The front interior of the 2023 Kia Forte is shown.

Con: Some Upgrades Are Optional

Of course, there are still some features that don’t come standard across the lineup. The higher trim levels on the Forte are still quite affordable (the top tier trim has a starting MSRP of $25,090, which is only $40 more than the starting MSRP for the lowest trim level of Honda Civic. Nevertheless, budget-conscious drivers looking to be as frugal as possible will have to miss out on some features if they don’t want to go above the base trim. Features available on the Forte but excluded from the base trim include:

  • A larger 10.25-inch touchscreen featuring built-in navigation
  • Blind spot detection, which can prevent you from getting into a collision on a busy freeway
  • Rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, which can detect incoming traffic while backing out of a parking space
  • Smart key and push-button start, so you can enter and start the car without taking your key fob out of your pocket or purse
  • Paddle shifters, giving you the option to manually shift between gears with an automatic transmission
  • Smart Cruise Control, which slows down and speeds back up in order to maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you when cruise control is active
  • LED headlights that provide improved visibility
  • Heated front seats, to keep you warm on cold winter mornings
  • Harman Kardon Premium Audio System, an eight-speaker setup that brings your music through in better quality
  • A wireless charging pad, allowing you to keep your device fully charged without getting tangled up in cables

Our Overall Impression

If you’re looking for a practical car that won’t break the bank, the Kia Forte is a solid choice. While it does have some drawbacks to look out for, it also has plenty of strengths that make it appealing. Commuters will appreciate its fuel economy, young drivers will make good use of its many tech features, and just about everyone shopping for a vehicle will appreciate its reasonable sticker price and exceptional fuel economy.

Clearly an affordable price tag isn’t necessarily a sign that an auto company has cut any corners. The Forte is a versatile, comfortable, and stylish vehicle at any trim level, and comes with a good variety of features as standard equipment. While its cons may be deal breakers for some, it’s certainly an option worth considering.