2023 Kia Cerato
About the Kia Cerato
The Cerato is Kia's popular small passenger car, available in both hatchback and sedan body styles.
It's known as the Forte in North America, and the K3 in the Korean domestic market.
The current fourth-generation model first launched in Australia in 2018, and received a mid-life refresh in 2021.
Great infotainment and safety assists
Seven-year warranty adds peace of mind
Asthmatic 2.0L motor is past its use-by date
Missing features available in Korean model as well as rivals
Not that cheap anymore, and expensive servicing
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2023 Kia Cerato (inc. 0-100 & autonomous test) review
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Manufacturer listed price
Advertised Driveaway Price
ON ROAD INCENTIVE
On road costs
Cash bonus or discount
Free servicing, warranty etc
Number of Doors
Number of Seats
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Cerato S highlights:
- 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- 4.2-inch instrument cluster display screen
- Cruise control
- Air conditioning
- Six-speaker sound system
- Automatic healdights
- Automatic high-beam
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- 16-inch steel wheels
- Tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column
Cerato Sport adds:
- 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Satellite navigation
- DAB digital radio
- Illuminated vanity mirrors
- Leatherette-wrapped steering wheel and shifter
- 17-inch alloy wheels
Cerato Sport+ adds:
- Blind-spot assist
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- Leather-appointed seats
- Keyless entry and start
- Heated front seats
- Dual-zone climate control with auto defog function
- Electrochromatic rear-view mirror
Cerato GT adds:
- 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo engine
- 18-inch alloy wheels in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres
- Multi-link rear suspension
- LED headlights and tail lights
- LED interior lighting
- Leather-appointed ‘sports tubular’ trim
- Flat-bottom leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Wireless phone charging
- Eight-speaker JBL premium sound system
- Hands-free power boot-lid (sedan only)
- Dual exhaust
- Alloy pedals
- Paddle shifters
- Tilt/slide sunroof
- Ventilated front seats
Price & Specs
There’s a sense of familiarity when you hop in the driver’s seat of the updated Cerato, because the layout has largely been untouched.
Yes there’s a new, larger touchscreen in higher grades and the steering wheel hub now wears Kia’s latest logo, but everything else is pretty much the same.
An updated TFT display in the driver’s instrument cluster feels a little higher end than the old model, and the new standard electric park brake neatens up the centre console a bit too.
This means the Cerato’s core strengths remain. It’s a clean and uncluttered cockpit that’s well-finished in the places that matter and the ergonomics are sound. Likewise, the front seats are comfortable and offer a decent range of (manual) adjustment.
Soft-touch materials adorn the dash and door tops, with a mix of gloss black, satin silver, and textured plastics scattered lower down. Build quality feels solid as it always has, and the switchgear is all nicely damped and doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy in operation.
The ‘premium’ leather-look steering wheel and gearshift trim is smooth and supple, and the leather-appointed seat trim is nice enough and features an interesting diamond perforation pattern.
As we’ve noted in reviews of the latest Hyundai/Kia models, the new 10.25-inch infotainment system is one of the best in the business. The high-definition widescreen, quick response times and attractive interface are all winners. In what is still a budget-conscious economy vehicle, it lifts the certainly ambience.
Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are commonplace these days, and we’d argue the reliability of a wired connection outweighs the slickness of the occasionally problematic wireless connection in the base S, though Hyundai and Kia seem to have ironed out kinks with the latter of late.
Space and storage is good up front, with a large two-shelf cubby under the centre stack for your phone, keys and wallet, while there’s decent-sized door pockets as well as a space beneath the front-centre armrest.
In the second row it’s more of the same, with rear air vents (now standard across the range for 2022), a USB-A charge port, a map pocket behind the front passenger seat, and a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders.
Head- and legroom is good without being excellent, with the sloping roofline a potential issue for taller passengers.
Tall adults can sit behind their own driving position in decent comfort, so shorter adults and kids will be easily catered for. The large rear windows mean car sickness-prone passengers are better off than they would be in the back of the rakish Mazda 3 hatchback, for example.
ISOFIX points on the outer rear seats feature for the littlest of kiddies, and there’s top-tether points across all three rear positions.
Under the boot lid is a big 502L boot area that’s well ahead of hatchback equivalents in the class, including the Cerato Hatch (428L). The rear seats fold 60:40 and there’s a space-saver spare under the floor.
The updated model scored segmented LED daytime running lights as standard across the range, though you still have to opt for the top-spec GT to get LED (reflector-type) headlights.
S models have steel wheels with hubcaps, while Sport models and up have alloy wheels.
The GT also gets a sporty body kit, red accents and dual tailpipes instead of a single outlet. It also gets LED tail lights to match the LED headlights.
New for facelifted models is the latest Kia logo, which switches out the old oval badge for a new stylised 'KIA' script which adorns the nose, tail, wheel caps and the steering wheel hub.
Kia Cerato Colours
The Cerato range is available in nine finishes:
- Clear White
- Snow White Pearl*
- Mineral Blue*
- Silky Silver*
- Horizon Blue*
- Steel Grey*
- Runway Red*
- Platinum Graphite*
- Aurora Black*
*Premium paint adds $520
Cost of Ownership
The Cerato is covered by Kia’s seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
Maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000km in 2.0-litre Cerato models, and there’s capped-price servicing for up to seven years or 105,000km.
Those seven visits cost $275, $469, $339, $623, $309, $596 and $328, totalling $2939 for the life of the program.
Over the first five years, the Cerato will set you back $2015 in scheduled maintenance, which is still on the higher side of the segment.
For example, a Toyota Corolla costs $205 a pop for the first five years, making it almost half the cost of the Kia.
In the case of the turbocharged Cerato GT, scheduled servicing is required every 12 months or 10,000km – the first seven visits quoted at $275, $454, $354, $498, $309, $695 and $649 for a total of $3234.
How it Drives
The 2.0-litre petrol was barely adequate when the current generation launched, and against the current crop of rivals it feels old-hat while also lacking in grunt and refinement.
Keep your demands gentle and it’s well-mannered enough, but push any harder and it’s a noisy and gruff engine over 3000rpm.
It feels like the Cerato gets off the line well enough, but try to get up to 100km/h on the freeway on-ramp or go up a steep hill and it’s just unrefined and laboured. A lot of noise – not a nice note either – and not a whole lot of performance.
Why Kia has persisted with such an ageing drivetrain format for any reason other than cost remains to be answered. Even swapping out the (snappy) six-speed auto for the continuously-variable transmission from the related Seltos would have been a better move – North America gets this setup too.
Beyond the lacklustre drivetrain, the rest of the Cerato’s on-road behaviour is pretty good.
Its locally-fettled suspension tune – with torsion-beam rear in non-GT models – errs on the side of firm, but it’s comfortable enough in town and settles well on the highway.
The steering, likewise, is tuned to be a direct and engaging. The Cerato has a lively feel to the ride and handling, though in most variants lacks the drivetrain to back it up.
Road noise is a little intrusive on rougher patches of blacktop, but it’s definitely not the worst in the class. Wind noise, meanwhile, is well suppressed.
If you want a bit more go then you can opt for the top-spec GT with its peppier 150kW 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine, but while the jump in performance is welcome the occasionally jerky DCT as well as the much firmer ride of the warm performance model are notable drawbacks.
Kia’s latest driver assists are generally pretty good, with the standard lane-keep assist not feeling too intrusive and the adaptive cruise control being a handy addition for long stints on the freeway.
We like the Lane Following Assist active centring function for the open road, though some may not like how it takes charge.
The Cerato’s adaptive cruise system has been improved from my experience with the previous model, but it still will drift 2-3km/h above or below the set speed on hills and when you let off the throttle if you take over for a moment – it’s certainly not as accurate as rival systems.
Overall, the Kia Cerato remains a solid, if uninspiring package on the road.
Kia Cerato Safety Rating
All 2021 Kia Cerato models come standard with the following safety equipment:
- Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Front, front side, and curtain airbags
- Lane-keep assist
- Lane Following Assist
- Rear occupant alert
When equipped with the Safety Pack, or in Sport+ and GT trim, the list of safety equipment is expanded to include:
- Autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian/cyclist detection
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Adaptive cruise control
The Sport+ and GT also add blind-spot assist.
Kia Cerato Lifecycle
The current generation Kia Cerato was launched in June 2018 and is currently 86 percent through its lifecycle. The last update was a new variant that was launched in June 2021 with the next model expected in 2024.
Kia Cerato Options
There's no options for the Cerato other than the $1000 Safety Pack on S and Sport grades.
Additional features include:
- Upgraded AEB with cyclist detection
- Electronic parking brake
- Upgraded 15-inch rear disc brakes
- Electric folding mirrors
- Adaptive cruise control
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- 'Premium' leatherette steering wheel and shifter
Kia Cerato Warranty
KIA suggests that owners service their 2023 KIA CERATO every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first.
The 2023 KIA CERATO has a 7 year, unlimited km warranty.
Kia Cerato Stock Availability
While Kia has been battling supply issues and long wait times for a variety of its models, the Cerato seems to be in better supply depending on variant.
A quick scan of the classifieds shows a a decent amount of new and demo vehicles in stock, though we've heard of wait times on the GT spanning a few months.
Kia Cerato Boot Space
The Cerato quotes 502L of luggage capacity in sedan form, and 428L as a hatchback (VDA).
Kia doesn't quote a figure for the Cerato hatch with the seats folded.
Kia Cerato Fuel Economy
Cerato models with the 2.0 MPi naturally-aspirated petrol engine quote fuel economy of 7.4L/100km on the combined cycle.
GT models, with the 1.6 T-GDi turbo petrol engine, quote 6.9L/100km for the sedan and 6.8L/100km for the hatch.
Depending on the variant, view the 2023 KIA CERATO fuel usage below.
All Highway, City, and Combined figures below are litres per 100km
|S||BD MY24||5D HATCHBACK||UNLEADED PETROL||-||-||7.4||Yes|
|S||BD MY24||4D SEDAN||UNLEADED PETROL||-||-||7.4||Yes|
|S SAFETY PACK||BD MY24||4D SEDAN||UNLEADED PETROL||-||-||7.4||Yes|
|S SAFETY PACK||BD MY24||5D HATCHBACK||UNLEADED PETROL||-||-||7.4||Yes|
|SPORT||BD MY24||4D SEDAN||UNLEADED PETROL||-||-||7.4||Yes|
|SPORT||BD MY24||5D HATCHBACK||UNLEADED PETROL||-||-||7.4||Yes|
|SPORT SAFETY PACK||BD MY24||4D SEDAN||UNLEADED PETROL||-||-||7.4||-|
|SPORT SAFETY PACK||BD MY24||5D HATCHBACK||UNLEADED PETROL||-||-||7.4||Yes|
|SPORT+||BD MY24||5D HATCHBACK||UNLEADED PETROL||-||-||7.4||Yes|
|SPORT+||BD MY24||4D SEDAN||UNLEADED PETROL||-||-||7.4||Yes|
|GT||BD MY24||4D SEDAN||UNLEADED PETROL||-||-||6.9||Yes|
|GT||BD MY24||5D HATCHBACK||UNLEADED PETROL||-||-||6.8||Yes|
Kia Cerato Dimensions
The 2022 Kia Cerato sedan measures 4640mm long, 1440mm tall and 1800mm wide, while the hatchback is 4510mm long, 1445mm tall and 1800mm wide. GT models are 5mm lower.
Both body styles have a 2700mm wheelbase.
Depending on the variant, the 2023 KIA CERATO measures as below.
|Variant||Series||Style||Length (mm)||Width (mm)||Height (mm)||Wheelbase (mm)|
|S||BD MY24||5D HATCHBACK||4510||1800||1445||2700|
|S||BD MY24||4D SEDAN||4640||1800||1440||2700|
|S SAFETY PACK||BD MY24||4D SEDAN||4640||1800||1440||2700|
|S SAFETY PACK||BD MY24||5D HATCHBACK||4510||1800||1445||2700|
|SPORT||BD MY24||4D SEDAN||4640||1800||1440||2700|
|SPORT||BD MY24||5D HATCHBACK||4510||1800||1445||2700|
|SPORT SAFETY PACK||BD MY24||4D SEDAN||4640||1800||1440||2700|
|SPORT SAFETY PACK||BD MY24||5D HATCHBACK||4510||1800||1445||2700|
|SPORT+||BD MY24||5D HATCHBACK||4510||1800||1445||2700|
|SPORT+||BD MY24||4D SEDAN||4640||1800||1440||2700|
|GT||BD MY24||4D SEDAN||4640||1800||1435||2700|
|GT||BD MY24||5D HATCHBACK||4510||1800||1445||2700|
The 2023 KIA CERATO has a braked towing capacity of 1100kg and an unbraked towing capacity of 610kg.
Kia Cerato Market Fit
Being classified as a Small Passenger car, the Kia Cerato competes with a wide range of competitors including the Hyundai i30, Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla.
Kia Cerato Sales Data
Kia sold 18,114 examples of the Cerato in 2021, a 3.2 per cent increase on the year before. It finished third in the small passenger segment overall.
The only two rivals to outsell it were the Toyota Corolla (28,768 units), as well as the related Hyundai i30 (25,575 units).
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Should you buy the Kia Cerato
If you want a no-nonsense compact car, the Cerato has a lot going for it. The decent spec levels and leading seven-year warranty bolster the roomy cabin and boot.
To our eyes, both the sedan and hatchback are quite attractive inside and out, and Kia's infotainment systems have proven to be better than Toyota's in terms of features and functionality.
Lower grades with the 2.0L petrol engine are lacking in performance compared to most rivals, however, and it's a shame S and Sport models require the Safety Pack option to match the safety kit offered as standard in a growing number of competitors.
The Kia Cerato is pitched as a strong value-for-money offering in the small car segment, combining sharp drive-away pricing with a relatively high level of standard specification as well as being dimensionally larger than most competitors.
It may be classed as 'small', but the Cerato offers a larger back seat and boot that most rivals regardless of whether you choose the sedan or hatchback.
Kia Cerato Interesting Facts
Overseas versions of the non-GT Cerato are offered with Kia's IVT, or Intelligent Variable Transmission – the company's branding for its CVT.
The IVT automatic is available on 1.6-litre petrol models in Korea as well as 2.0-litre petrol models in North America. Oddly, Kia Australia offers the related Seltos with this transmission.