2022 Kia Forte vs. 2022 Mazda3: Which Compact Car Is the Best New Car for You?

If you’re in the market for a new compact car, the 2022 Kia Forte and the 2022 Mazda3 should be on your radar. However, which one suits you best? Let’s compare these compact sedans based on available engine specs, safety features, industry safety ratings, interior features, and pricing. 

2022 Kia Forte vs. 2022 Mazda3 

The 2022 Kia Forte GT compact sedan model in gray parked on a deserted highway stretch at sunset
2022 Kia Forte GT | Kia America

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) recently reviewed the 2022 Kia Forte and the 2022 Mazda3. In that review, KBB skimmed over essential aspects to consider when deciding which car to buy. Here, we’ll provide a more detailed review of the key features of both vehicles. 

What’s under the hood of these compact cars?

From Kia’s website, all 2022 Kia Forte models come with a dual overhead cam (DOHC), 16-valve 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that provides 147 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. The only exception is the Forte GT trims, which feature a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 201 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb-ft of torque within a broad powerband stretching from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm. 

The 2022 Mazda3, on the other hand, comes in eight trim levels. According to Mazda’s website, the base Mazda3 2.0 sedan features a 16-valve DOHC 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine with 155 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 150 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. 

Going up in trim levels, the next five feature a DOHC 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder that produces 186 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 186 lb-ft of torque at 4,000. Finally, the two top trim levels add a turbocharger to the 2.5-liter engine to generate up to 250 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 310 ft-lbs of torque at 2,000 rpm. 

Safety features in the 2022 Kia Forte vs. the 2022 Mazda3

The 2022 Kia Forte features a complete set of driver assistance safety features on upper trim levels, including forward-collision avoidance with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and a new driver-attention monitoring system. Furthermore, when enabled, the Forte provides an audible warning and push notifications to registered users when leaving rear-seat passengers unattended. 

2022 Mazda3 2.0 sedan safety features include radar cruise control with stop-and-go, LED headlights, and LED taillights. Higher trim Mazda3 models have additional safety features like blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

Is the 2022 Kia Forte safer than the new Mazda3?

The 2021 Kia Forte received a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Some trim levels feature advanced headlight systems that earned “Good” ratings, while others have “Poor” headlights. Unfortunately, the IIHS did not select the 2022 Kia Forte as a Top Safety Pick.

The 2022 Mazda3 received “Good, Superior, and Good+” ratings in nearly every category, earning it a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS. Compared to the Forte, the deciding factor fell to the headlight system performance of lower trimmed models. The Mazda3 2.0 sedan base headlight system earned a respectable “Acceptable,” allowing the Mazca3 to attain the highest award. 

Interior features to consider in these compact cars

The 2022 Kia Forte features a relatively roomy interior space with adequate materials for an affordable compact sedan. In contrast, the Mazda3 offers an interior with more luxurious materials but less passenger room. 

2022 Kia Forte vs. Mazda3 pricing

The base 2022 Kia Forte FE starts at $19,900. The mid-level Forte GT-Line begins at $21,290. The most expensive trim level is the GT Manual starting at $24,490, and it offers the most performance, safety features, and technology that the Kia Forte offers. 

The base Mazda3 2.0 sedan starts at $21,150. The Carbon Edition trim starts at $26,750. The most expensive version of the Mazda3 is the 2.5 Turbo Premium Plus starts at $33,450, enabling the addition of every option available for the Mazda3.

Which compact sedan should you buy?

Deciding between the Kia Forte and Mazda3 comes down to your priorities. Kia Forte buyers enjoy a sporty compact car that feels bigger inside than it should at an affordable price. People who lean toward the Mazda3 spend a little more money for less interior space but gain a more luxurious cabin and more performance at every comparable trim level. As a bonus, the Mazda3 is also available in a hatchback version and has all-wheel drive options not available with the Kia Forte. 

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