2018 Kia Optima vs. 2018 Buick Regal Sportback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Optima has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Optima SX offers an optional Around View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Regal Sportback only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the Optima and the Regal Sportback have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights and lane departure warning systems.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Optima the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 88 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Regal Sportback has not been tested, yet.


The Optima comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Regal Sportback’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Optima 4 years and 30,000 miles longer than Buick covers the Regal Sportback. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Regal Sportback ends after only 6 years or 70,000 miles.


J.D. Power and Associates rated the Optima second among midsize cars in their 2017 Initial Quality Study. The Regal Sportback isn’t in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2017 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Buick vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia first in initial quality, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Buick is ranked 13th.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Optima LX 1.6T gets better fuel mileage than the Regal Sportback 9-spd Auto FWD (28 city/37 hwy vs. 22 city/32 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Optima uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Regal Sportback with the 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Optima has 2.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Regal Sportback (18.5 vs. 16.3 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.


The Optima offers an available sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the Optima’s turning circle is 3.2 feet tighter than the Regal Sportback’s (35.8 feet vs. 39 feet). The Optima’s turning circle is 5.2 feet tighter than the Regal Sportback’s (35.8 feet vs. 41 feet).


The Kia Optima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 550 to 700 pounds less than the Buick Regal Sportback.

Passenger Space

The Optima has 1 inch more front headroom, 3.4 inches more front legroom, .8 inches more front hip room, 1.2 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom, 1.9 inches more rear hip room and 1 inch more rear shoulder room than the Regal Sportback.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Optima LX 1.6T/EX/SX/SXL’s trunk can be opened just by waiting momentarily behind the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.


While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Optima SX detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Regal Sportback doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Regal Sportback’s optional cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The Optima SX’s standard adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

Both the Optima and the Regal Sportback offer available heated front seats. The Optima SX also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Regal Sportback.


Consumer Reports® chose the Kia Optima as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Optima third among midsize cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Regal Sportback isn’t in the top three.

The Kia Optima outsold the Buick Regal by over nine to one during 2017.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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