2019 BMW i3 vs. 2019 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The i3 has standard Park Distance Control to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, optionally, in front of the vehicle. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

The i3 has standard BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the i3 and the Optima Plug-In Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available crash mitigating brakes.

Warranty

The i3’s corrosion warranty is 7 years and unlimited miles longer than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s (12/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the i3 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Optima Plug-In Hybrid.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the i3’s reliability 24 points higher than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

The i3 REx’s maximum driving range in pure electric mode is 126 miles, about 5 times as far as the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s 29-mile range.

Tires and Wheels

The i3s’ 195/50R20 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the i3 has standard 19-inch wheels. Only 17-inch wheels are available on the Optima Plug-In Hybrid. The i3 offers optional 20-inch wheels.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the i3’s turning circle is 3.4 feet tighter than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s (32.4 feet vs. 35.8 feet). The i3s’ turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s (33.8 feet vs. 35.8 feet).

Chassis

The BMW i3 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 500 to 850 pounds less than the Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid.

The i3s is 2 feet, 9 inches shorter than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid, making the i3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

The i3 has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid (15.1 vs. 9.9 cubic feet).

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the i3’s hatch uses gas strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s useful trunk space.

The i3’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer folding rear seats.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Kia. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 31% lower rating, Kia is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

If the windows are left open on the i3 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Optima Plug-In Hybrid can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The i3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the i3 has a standard rear wiper. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

The i3 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The i3’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the BMW i3 and the Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the i3 third among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid isn’t in the top three.

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

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