By Nelson Ireson
The Kia Forte is value-packed with a standard feature list to envy and a long powertrain warranty. But is that enough to take on the Honda Civic’s legendary refinement, capability, and space? Both are impressive offerings in the compact car segment. This comparison should help you decide which one is right for you.
The 2023 Kia Forte
The Kia /zigman2/quotes/206019389/delayed KR:000270 -0.46% Forte compact sedan is feature-packed, affordable, stylish, and spacious, holding its own against rivals like the Toyota /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM +1.06% Corolla and Honda /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC +1.33% Civic. The Forte isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, let alone the highly competitive compact car segment. Rather than being excellent in any single area, the 2023 Forte aims to be very good in most.
2023 Kia Forte highlights
Sharp styling: First impressions are good for the Forte, with a smartly styled exterior that’s sure to appeal to many. Inside, it’s more of the same with a fresh, modern interior look complemented by upscale materials for this class and price point. (Starts at $19,490.)
Lots of configurations: The 2023 Kia Forte is available in four main trim lines: LX, LXS, GT Line, and GT. The GT variant is also available as the GT MT, which swaps the standard continuously variable transmission (CVT) for a 6-speed manual. The LX, LXS, and GT Line all share the same 147-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and CVT automatic transmission. The GT and GT MT use a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rated for 201 horsepower paired with a quick-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission or the aforementioned 6-speed manual. Both GT models also get an upgraded multi-link rear suspension in place of the standard torsion beam.
Great upgrades: Available upgrades for the 2023 Forte GT Line and GT include a power sunroof, LED interior lighting, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated and ventilated front seats, a 320-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system, and more.
The 2022 Honda Civic
Totally redesigned for 2022, the Honda Civic remains a spacious, fun-to-drive, efficient, reliable compact sedan or hatchback — and a best-seller. Its legendary name gives weight to the strong value presented on the Civic’s spec sheet. (Pricing starts at $22,550.)
2022 Honda Civic highlights
Efficient engines: Four core variants of the Civic are available in both sedan and hatchback form: LX, Sport, EX (EX-L as a hatchback), and Touring (Sport Touring as a hatchback). The LX and Sport use the same 2.0-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine rated for 158 horsepower and up to 35 mpg combined. The Civic EX/EX-L and Touring/Sport Touring use a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rated for 180 horsepower and up to 36 mpg combined. The hatchback Sport and Sport Touring are available with a 6-speed manual transmission in place of the standard CVT; sedans are only available with the CVT.
High-tech: All variants of the newest Civic include standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with a 7-inch color touchscreen display. Opt for the top-tier Touring or Sport Touring trims for a 9-inch touchscreen, wireless Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -1.96% CarPlay/Android Auto, Qi-compatible wireless device charging, and a 10.2-inch digital instrument panel display, a first for the Civic. A 12-speaker Bose audio system is also available.
Sporty variants: The Honda Civic is not just a fun-to-drive commuter. In Civic Si or even more aggressive Civic Type R guise, the Civic is properly sporty. The Civic Si uses a more potent version of the economical 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. The beastly Civic Type R packs 315 horsepower from its 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, as well as a wider track, upgraded suspension, and a healthy dose of Honda performance tuning to the setup.
Passenger space and cargo room; fuel economy; base engines; transmission options; quality cabin materials and design; standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
It’s nearly impossible to go wrong with either the Kia Forte or the Honda Civic, as both are impressive, capable compact cars with nicer-than-average cabins, solid standard feature sets, and attractive design. It really comes down to priorities, and those are as individual as you are. The Forte’s lower starting price and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty will appeal to the more frugal shopper , while the Civic’s proven Honda reliability, fun-to-drive nature, and strong resale value may sway others to choose the Civic.
|2023 Kia Forte||2022 Honda Civic|
|Engine||2.0-liter 4-cylinder||2.0-liter 4-cylinder|
|Horsepower||147 hp @ 6,200 rpm||158 hp @ 6,500 rpm|
|Torque||132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm||138 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||34 mpg (30 city/41 hwy)||35 mpg (31 city/40 hwy)|
|Also Available||1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder; 6-spd manual; 7-spd dual-clutch automatic trans||1.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder; 6-spd manual|
|Warranty||5 years/60,000 miles||3 years/30,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||10 years/100,000 miles||5 years/ 60,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety||4 stars||n/a|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||106.3 inches||107.7 inches|
|Overall Length||182.7 inches||184.0 inches|
|Width||70.9 inches||70.9 inches|
|Height||56.5 inches||55.7 inches|
|Turning Diameter||34.8 feet||36.1 feet|
|Headroom, Front||38.8 inches||39.3 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||37.5 inches||37.1 inches|
|Legroom, Front||42.2 inches||42.3 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||35.7 inches||37.4 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||56.1 inches||57.0 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||55.3 inches||56.0 inches|
|EPA Passenger Volume||96.0 cubic feet||99.0 cubic feet|
|EPA Cargo Volume||15.3 cubic feet||14.8 cubic feet|