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2017 Kia Forte5 vs Mazda 3

2017 Kia Forte5 vs Nissan Versa Note

If you're looking for a new compact car, you probably have a list of some of the most obvious models--but don't overlook the others unless you want to risk overlooking some of the best. Two of those you shouldn't forget are the 2017 Kia Forte5 and the Mazda 3, but let's take a closer look to see which is best.

2017 Kia Forte5 vs Mazda 3

Exterior Styling

The exterior of the Kia Forte5 probably wasn't as striking last year, but this year a mid-cycle refresh has brought it right up to date again. The Forte5 now has a new front bumper and a "tiger nose" grille that sits a little lower than it did before. The overall effect is a sportier, more aggressive stance with design features that blend together more seamlessly.

The Mazda 3 also got a new front this year that follows along similar lines to what we've seen with the Kia, but the Mazda was already the best looking vehicle in its class. The changes are subtle on the whole, but that's only to be expected. We like the aggressive stance of the Kia, but they are both impressive looking vehicles.

Interior Comfort and Quality

You won't find a huge amount of passenger space in the rear seats of the Forte5, but apart from that there's very little to complain about inside the Kia. Other than that, you'll have plenty of room in the front and your cargo won't feel too cramped either. What may surprise the uninitiated, though, is the quality of the materials and fit in the cabin, with soft touch surfaces delivering an upscale feel throughout.

The interior of the Mazda 3 is nice as well, but it's definitely not as plush or as roomy as the Kia. There's a couple of extra cubic foot of passenger space in the Forte5 than there is in either the hatch or sedan versions of the Mazda 3, so this is a win for the Kia.

Engines and Performance

Three engines are available for the Kia Forte5, although all three are four-cylinder offerings. Even the base 2.0-liter MPI puts out a very respectable 147 horsepower, but the 1.6-liter turbo really is a live wire with its 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are available, but the auto is a seven-speed DCT if you choose the 1.6 turbo.

There are two engines available for the Mazda, which are a 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 155 horsepower and a 184 horsepower 2.5. Both engines are nimble and lively, but if power is your thing the Kia is the obvious choice in this section.

Fuel Economy

The best fuel economy ratings you can get with the Kia are 25 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway from 2.0-liter GDI models equipped with the automatic transmission, which is pretty good for an engine offering an impressive 164 horsepower.

The Mazda's numbers are very good, with as much as 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway from the 5-door model. That gives the Mazda the win here.

Learn More about the Kia Forte5

2017 Kia Forte5 vs Nissan Versa Note

The Mazda 3 is hard to fault when it comes to fuel economy, but in equally important areas such as passenger space, power, and performance, the 2017 Kia Forte5 just has the edge and that's why it's our winner here.