2019 Toyota Camry vs. 2019 Kia Optima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Toyota Camry have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Kia Optima doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The Camry has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Optima doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Camry XLE/XSE has a standard Rear Cross Traffic Braking that use rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Optima doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Camry has standard Safety Connect, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Optima 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 Camry and the Optima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Toyota Camry is safer than the Kia Optima:

 

Camry

Optima

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

140

185

Neck Injury Risk

20%

22%

Neck Compression

13 lbs.

55 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

21%

50%

Neck Stress

136 lbs.

192 lbs.

Neck Compression

45 lbs.

101 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Toyota Camry is safer than the Kia Optima:

 

Camry

Optima

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.7 inches

.8 inches

Abdominal Force

136 G’s

178 G’s

Hip Force

296 lbs.

306 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

289

319

Spine Acceleration

48 G’s

66 G’s

Hip Force

752 lbs.

933 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

164

196

Spine Acceleration

35 G’s

37 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The Camry’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Optima runs out after 100,000 miles.

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Camry for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Optima.

There are over 59 percent more Toyota dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Camry’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Kia is ranked fifth.

Engine

The Camry has more powerful engines than the Optima:

 

Horsepower

Torque

Camry 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

203 HP

184 lbs.-ft.

Camry XSE 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

206 HP

186 lbs.-ft.

Camry XSE/XLE 3.5 DOHC V6

301 HP

267 lbs.-ft.

Optima EX 1.6 turbo 4 cyl.

178 HP

195 lbs.-ft.

Optima 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

185 HP

178 lbs.-ft.

Optima SX 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

245 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Toyota Camry 4 cyl. is faster than the Kia Optima 4 cyl.:

 

Camry

Optima

Zero to 30 MPH

3.2 sec

3.3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

8 sec

8 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

16.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91 MPH

89 MPH

As tested in Motor Trend the Camry V6 is faster than the Optima SX 2.0T:

 

Camry

Optima

Zero to 60 MPH

5.8 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14.3 sec

15.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99.6 MPH

90.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Camry gets better fuel mileage than the Optima:

 

 

 

MPG

Camry

 

 

L 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

29 city/41 hwy

 

 

LE/SE/XLE/XSE 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

28 city/39 hwy

 

 

XLE 3.5 DOHC V6

22 city/33 hwy

 

 

XSE 3.5 DOHC V6

22 city/32 hwy

Optima

 

 

EX 1.6 turbo 4 cyl.

27 city/37 hwy

 

 

LX 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

25 city/35 hwy

 

 

S 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

24 city/33 hwy

 

 

SX 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Toyota Camry, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed or six-speed automatic is available for the Optima.

Brakes and Stopping

The Camry stops much shorter than the Optima:

 

Camry

Optima

 

70 to 0 MPH

175 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

126 feet

129 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

133 feet

140 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

The Camry XSE’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Optima S/SX’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Camry XSE has standard 19-inch wheels. The Optima’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The Camry SE handles at .88 G’s, while the Optima pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Camry XSE executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.1 seconds quicker than the Optima (26.7 seconds @ .66 average G’s vs. 27.8 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Passenger Space

The Camry has .2 inches more rear headroom and 2.4 inches more rear legroom than the Optima.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Camry easier. The Camry’s trunk lift-over height is 26.8 inches, while the Optima’s liftover is 28.7 inches.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the Camry. The Optima doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Ergonomics

The Camry offers a 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 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Camry XLE/XSE offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Optima doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Camry’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Optima’s standard power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically. With the Optima S/EX/SX’s power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Camry 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. (Your Toyota service department must activate this window function.) The driver of the Optima can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Camry’s speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Optima’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Camry owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Camry will cost $525 less than the Optima over a five-year period.

The Camry will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Camry will retain 35.88% to 48.63% of its original price after five years, while the Optima only retains 36.86% to 42.42%.

Recommendations

The Toyota Camry has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

 

Camry

Optima

Consumer Reports® Recommends

Top Pick

TRUE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

The Toyota Camry outsold the Kia Optima by over three to one during 2018.

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

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