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2024 Mazda3 vs. 2024 Kia Forte Comparison

Although SUVs are all the rage, the compact car segment is still highly competitive. You have your mainstream options like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, but a few alternatives to those best-sellers are worth consideration. Two of our favorites are the Mazda3 and Kia Forte.

These compact cars are similar in many ways, but there are some key differences.

Let’s compare the 2024 Mazda3 and the 2024 Kia Forte.

2024 Mazda3

The Mazda3 is defined by its fun driving dynamics and upscale interior while retaining the practicality and reasonable pricing of a compact car. The Mazda marque has a lot going for it, and the Mazda3 is the most affordable entry into the brand. Pricing starts at $24,170.

Mazda3 Highlights

Sedan and hatchback body styles — Unlike the sedan-only Kia Forte, the Mazda3 is available as a sedan or a hatchback. The sedan is a little more affordable, but the hatchback has the advantage of more cargo space. Also, the hatchback offers the Premium trim with a manual transmission, which you can’t get in the sedan.

Available AWD — Optional with the base engine and standard with the turbo engine, the i-Activ all-wheel-drive system is a huge advantage the Mazda3 has over the Kia Forte, which comes exclusively with front-wheel drive. AWD gives the Mazda3 better grip on dry pavement and improved traction on slippery roads.

Stronger performance — The base 2.5-liter engine in the Mazda3 makes 191 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, while the optional turbocharged 2.5-liter makes 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. These performance specs better those of the Forte by a considerable margin, making the Mazda3 the enthusiast’s choice.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Mazda3 models for sale near you

2024 Kia Forte

2024 Kia Forte in silver.

The practical and affordable Kia Forte proves that a cheap compact car is no longer a penalty box. With its spacious interior, class-leading warranty, and generous standard features, the 2024 Forte represents a great value that represents a lot of car for the money. There’s even an exciting GT model, which still doesn’t break the bank. Pricing for the 2024 Kia Forte starts at $19,790.

Kia Forte Highlights

Affordable pricing: The starting price of the Kia Forte is 18% lower than the starting price of the Mazda3, and the price gap is even wider when you get into their respective turbocharged trims. The Kia represents a considerable discount whether you’re paying cash, leasing, or making payments.

Outstanding warranty: The Kia Forte has a class-leading warranty. A 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty complements a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty. That’s significantly longer coverage than the 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and 5-year/50,000-mile powertrain protection in the Mazda.

Up to 41 highway mpg: The smaller engines in the Forte aren’t as powerful as the larger ones in the Mazda3, but the reward is better fuel economy. The EPA rates the most efficient Forte at 30 mpg city/41 mpg highway/34 mpg combined, while the thriftiest Mazda3 comes in at 27 mpg city/37 mpg highway/31 mpg combined.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Forte models for sale near you.

Similarities

The 2024 Kia Forte and 2024 Mazda3 sedan are remarkably similar in size, and they offer a similar complement of standard safety and infotainment tech features. Shared standard highlights include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, automatic high beams, and driver attention monitoring.

Conclusion

The Kia Forte has many practical advantages over the Mazda3. It has a lower starting price, a slightly roomier interior, longer warranties, and better fuel economy. The Mazda, however, has a more premium feel and the advantage of two body styles, more robust engines, and available all-wheel drive.

If your budget is tight, and the $4,380 difference in price between these two sedans is significant to you, we have no qualms about recommending the Kia. It’s a fine automobile. But if budget is not a concern, the more premium Mazda3, which also has a better National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) overall safety record, gets the nod.

Specs

2024 Mazda3 2024 Kia Forte
Starting Price $24,170 $19,790
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.5-liter 4-cylinder 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower 191 hp @ 6,000 rpm 147 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque 186 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm 132 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic CVT automatic
Fuel Economy 27 mpg city/37 mpg highway/31 mpg combined 30 mpg city/41 mpg highway/34 mpg combined
Also Available Turbo 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, 6-speed manual, AWD, hatchback Turbo 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, 6-speed manual
Specs
Basic Warranty 3 Years/36,000 Miles 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 Years/60,000 Miles 10 Years/100,000 Miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 5 Stars 4 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 107.3 inches 106.3 inches
Overall Length 183.5 inches 182.7 inches
Width 70.7 inches 70.9 inches
Height 56.9 inches 56.5 inches
Turning Diameter 34.8 feet 34.8 feet
Headroom, 1st row 38 inches 38.8 inches
Headroom, 2nd row 37.3 inches 37.5 inches
Legroom, 1st row 42.3 inches 42.2 inches
Legroom, 2nd row 35.1 inches 35.7 inches
Shoulder room, 1st row 55.7 inches 56.1 inches
Shoulder room, 2nd row 53.5 inches 55.3 inches
Cargo room 13.2 cubic feet 15.3 cubic feet

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