A silver 2023 Kia Forte GT is shown parked near a Kia dealership.

The Kia Forte, an Affordable Sporty Sedan

Kia has been around since 1944, and nearly a century of uncompromising manufacturing has proven them to be a reliable automaker. Carmax ranks them in the top three most reliable brands for 2022. Among their most popular models is the Kia Forte, whose top-tier trim—the GT Manual—sports a 201 hp turbocharged engine and a six-speed manual transmission. The Forte comes in several other trims—lesser in price but not in quality—and each provides something special.

The five trims on the Kia Forte provide several sets of features at five different price points; even the most expensive Kia GT Manual is affordably priced. The Forte comes with powerful engine options, an aggressive and stylish body, and comfortable interior seating; combined with all the high-tech safety features and creature comforts one could ask for, it is no wonder your local Kia Forte dealer has a line out the door.

A red 2020 Kia Forte is shown driving on a road.

Trim Options

The Kia Forte has five trim options: the LX, LXS, GT-Line, GT, and GT Manual. The LX starts the procession as the most affordable option; it comes with a 2.0L four-cylinder 147 hp engine whose IVT (Intelligent Variable Transmission) provides a consistent amount of torque for all driving situations. The LX also provides great fuel economy, boasting an EPA-estimated 30 MPG in the city, 41 MPG on the highway, and a total combined 34 MPG. The LX has some great safety features, too, including automatic emergency braking, lane keep and follow assistance, auto-dimming headlights, and a rearview monitor. The LX also comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone syncing via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The remote keyless entry is a bonus, giving drivers ready and easy access to their vehicle.

The LXS trim contains all the perks of the LX but adds more color options, as well as 16-inch alloy wheels and 60/40 split folding rear seats. The GT-Line trim takes a definite step up from the LX and LXS, including everything in the LXS and then some. The Kia Forte GT-Line’s body styling is sleek and impressive, and its 17-inch alloy wheels accent this styling to provide an aesthetically pleasing car. The interior also has specialized design elements, such as comfortable sports seats—lined with water-repellant, chemical-resistant SynTex fabric and cloth trimming—and a flat-bottom steering wheel that is carefully wrapped in leather. The GT-Line also increases the number of safety features, adding blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance systems. The 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen is also significantly larger than the LX or LXS, and with the new smart key, starting up the GT-Line happens with the mere push of a button.

The GT trim includes everything from the GT-Line and upgrades a few features further. The biggest upgrade is the 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder 201 hp engine providing 195 lb-ft of torque, which is plenty of power for a vehicle this size. The GT has a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and uses a sport-tuned multi-link rear suspension system to improve handling and performance, while the sport-tuned dual exhaust improves engine performance. The Forte GT gets an impressive EPA-estimated 27 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway. The 18-inch alloy wheels also make the GT look sportier and accent the body design. There are also two added safety features in the automatic emergency braking with cyclist detection and the smart cruise control with stop and go. The LED headlights will provide more than adequate illumination, and the wireless phone charger will keep your smartphone fully topped off.

The GT Manual includes and upgrades everything from the GT. The engine is the same, but it includes a six-speed manual transmission; however, if you thought the GT Manual would just be a manual version of the GT, think again. A premium Harman Kardon audio system with eight speakers features prominently, and the GT Manual’s sports seats have stylish SynTex seat trim with red stitching—and these front seats are heated, too! This sporty sedan also includes a sunroof and Michelin Pilot Sport summer tires. The LED interior lighting provides more than adequate lighting, and additional rear parking sensors will help you park with more precision. As a manual version of the GT, the Forte GT Manual gets a somewhat-smaller fuel efficiency on the same engine, with an EPA-estimated 22 MPG in the city and 31 MPG on the highway.

Both the automatic transmission of the GT and the manual transmission of the GT-Manual provide a strong connection from the engine to the wheels, allowing for maximum power. The automatic transmission also comes with paddle shifters to easily cycle through the seven speeds, although it’s the manual transmission that provides control like no other; if you’ve driven a manual, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, maybe it is time to learn. You will be amazed at how much fun it is to drive the Kia Forte GT Manual.

The interior and dash of a 2023 Kia Forte is shown.

Kia Connect Insights

Remote start is cool—and definitely useful—but Kia Connect takes that concept to a whole new level, allowing drivers to access their Kia Forte through their smartphone. It also gives them access to their climate controls, which means Kia owners can turn on their cars and set the interior temperature from wherever they are. Out of range for the remote start to work? No problem, as the app works from anywhere.

If you ever forget where you parked, the Kia Connect app can locate your car in a snap, saving users the stress of a lost vehicle. Kia Connect can also be connected to smart devices such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, so you can start your Kia with a simple phrase. If your vehicle is ever stolen, Kia Connect’s Stolen Vehicle Recovery protocol can help local law enforcement quickly locate your vehicle and even provides immobilization capabilities.

A blue 2020 Kia Forte GT is shown driving off road.

What Makes the Kia Forte a Great Choice

Finding a sedan that is functional, sporty, stylish, high-tech, and affordable all-in-one sounds like an uphill battle—but fortunately, Kia has packed all of that into its new Forte. The Kia Forte has impressive styling, high-tech safety and luxury features, and powerful engine options. It achieves all these things while remaining a very affordable vehicle. Best of all, Kia sits high on the list of most reliable vehicle brands across numerous amalgamated consumer reviews, meaning the costs of maintenance over the years will likely be limited just to the annual routine check-up.

Kia does a great job balancing affordability and features with the Forte, providing plenty of options for a wide variety of drivers. The LX includes a strong engine with tons of great interior and exterior features, while remaining the most affordable of the trim models. The LXS improves a few features of the LX while remaining considerably affordable. The GT-Line sees significant changes to the exterior design, as well as many improvements to the interior design and safety features, and the GT and GT Manual add an upgraded engine, larger wheels, and a large number of improved interior design and functionality features. Whatever the specific needs of a buyer, the Forte has great options for specialization. The GT and GT Manual truly provide an exceptional value when you consider features you get at such an affordable price.