2019 Nissan Leaf vs. 2019 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Leaf SL has a standard Around View® Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

The Leaf SL’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Leaf and the Optima Plug-In Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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 daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Leaf’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Optima Plug-In Hybrid runs out after 100,000 miles.

There are over 40 percent more Nissan dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Leaf’s warranty.

Engine

The Leaf PLUS’ standard electric motor produces 13 more horsepower (215 vs. 202) than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Leaf gets better fuel mileage than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid:

MPGe

Leaf

147 HP electric motor

124 city/99 hwy

PLUS S electric motor

118 city/97 hwy

PLUS SV/SL electric motor

114 city/94 hwy

Optima Plug-In Hybrid

electric motor

103 city/104 hwy

MPG

2.0 4 cyl. Hybrid

38 city/43 hwy

The Leaf’s standard maximum EPA estimated driving range is 151 miles on a full charge. The Leaf PLUS’ maximum EPA estimated driving range is 226 miles on a full charge. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid can only travel about 29 miles before it has to start its internal combustion engine.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Nissan Leaf higher (10 out of 10) than the Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid (7). This means the Leaf produces up to 11.8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid every 15,000 miles.

The EPA certifies the Nissan Leaf as a “Zero Emissions Vehicle” (ZEV). The Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid is only certified to “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV) standards.

Tires and Wheels

The Leaf SV/SL’s 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.

The Leaf has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the Leaf S’ turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s (34.8 feet vs. 35.8 feet).

Chassis

The Nissan Leaf may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 350 pounds less than the Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid.

The Leaf is 1 foot, 2.7 inches shorter than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid, making the Leaf easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

The Leaf has a much larger trunk than the Optima Plug-In Hybrid (23.6 vs. 9.9 cubic feet).

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Leaf’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 Leaf’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer folding rear seats.

Ergonomics

The Leaf SV/SL has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

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

Recommendations

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

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

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