2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI vs. 2019 Kia Optima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Jetta GLI has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, 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 Jetta GLI has a standard backup collision prevention system that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Optima doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Jetta GLI Autobahn has standard Car-Net, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in 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 Jetta GLI and the Optima 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, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Jetta GLI comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The Optima’s 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 12000 miles sooner.

The Jetta GLI’s corrosion warranty is 5 years and unlimited miles longer than the Optima’s (10/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).

Reliability

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the Optima’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

Engine

The Jetta GLI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 50 more horsepower (228 vs. 178) and 63 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 195) than the Optima EX’s standard 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. The Jetta GLI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 43 more horsepower (228 vs. 185) and 80 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 178) than the Optima’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Volkswagen Jetta GLI is faster than the Optima EX 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. (automatics tested):

Jetta GLI

Optima

Zero to 60 MPH

5.6 sec

7.3 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.8 sec

19.1 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.1 sec

7.6 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

101 MPH

92 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Jetta GLI gets better fuel mileage than the Optima SX 2.0 Turbo (25 city/32 hwy vs. 21 city/30 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Jetta GLI Auto’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Optima doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volkswagen Jetta GLI higher (7 out of 10) than the Kia Optima (5 to 7). This means the Jetta GLI produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Optima every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Jetta GLI’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Optima:

Jetta GLI

Optima

Optima S/SX

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

11.2 inches

11.2 inches

The Jetta GLI’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Optima are solid, not vented.

The Jetta GLI stops much shorter than the Optima:

Jetta GLI

Optima

70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Jetta GLI has larger tires than the Optima (225/40R18 vs. 205/65R16).

The Jetta GLI’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 LX’s standard 65 series tires. The Jetta GLI’s tires are lower profile than the Optima S/SX’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Jetta GLI has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Optima LX.

Suspension and Handling

The Jetta GLI offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Optima’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Jetta GLI 35th Anniversary Edition handles at .95 G’s, while the Optima pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The Jetta GLI is 5.9 inches shorter than the Optima, making the Jetta GLI easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Ergonomics

The Jetta GLI Autobahn Auto 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 Optima doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Jetta GLI’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 Jetta GLI the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows with the driver’s door power window switch. The driver of the Optima can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Jetta GLI’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’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Jetta GLI has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the Optima.

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

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