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2017 Kia Forte vs Mazda 3

2017 Kia Forte vs Mazda 3

In an increasingly competitive market, compact cars have to be really good to attract buyers--and that means being desirable as well as capable and practical. In this segment, the 2017 Kia Forte and the Mazda 3 are two of the top contenders in this segment. How do they compare to each other?

2017 Kia Forte vs Mazda 3

Style

Compact cars have to look good on the outside to stand a chance of attracting buyers. The 2017 Kia Forte is a sedan, with quite a sleek design and a coupe-like sloping roofline. The result is an attractively sporty stance regardless of which trim level you chose.

The Mazda 3 has always been a great looking little car, and it just seems to get better every time it gets updated. Sleek, sporty and modern, the 3 really does set the standard in this segment for exterior styling.

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy isn't always the primary decision maker for cars in this segment, but that doesn't mean they can get away with being gas-guzzlers either. The best fuel economy ratings the 2017 Kia Forte can claim are 29 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway, which is pretty good performance regardless of the class. Even at its least fuel-efficient, 1.6-liter turbo versions with manual transmissions can still deliver 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

The Mazda 3 is no slouch in this area either, although the best EPA-estimated figures at 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway do fall a little short of the Kia. This round goes to the Forte.

Interiors

The Kia Forte's last redesign made the car a little longer and wider than it used to be, and that means a cabin with a good amount of interior space. The sloping roof does restrict rear head room a little, but it's a price worth paying for the car's good looks. The materials and appointments are decidedly more upscale than they used to be.

Mazda has done a lot of work to combat noise inside the Mazda 3, and it has had some success. It's still quite a bit noisier than the Kia though. Materials are a mix of high-quality and cost-cutting, so you will have to go to higher trims to compete with the Kia's interior and that means another win here for the Forte.

Features and Equipment

Kia might have moved away from its overtly value-focused roots in recent times to pursue greater quality, but the Forte is still a value-packed model with lots of standard features. Even base models come with keyless entry, air conditioning, a rea rview camera, power windows and doors, satellite radio with free three-month trial subscription, Bluetooth connectivity and steering-wheel audio controls.

In its base Sport configuration, the Mazda 3 offers a standard feature and equipment list almost identical to that of the 2017 Kia Forte. However, the Kia offers a longer warranty than the Mazda 3 comes with, so we'll give this round to the Kia by a small margin.

Learn More about the Kia Forte

2017 Kia Forte vs Mazda 3

Both the Mazda and the Kia are very good compact cars, and if you're shopping in this segment of the market you won't be disappointed by either one. If looks alone will make your choice, the Mazda 3 will probably just edge it. But the Kia Forte is a fierce opponent in nearly every other way and costs significantly less than the Mazda. The Forte is the best bet.