2020 Acura TLX vs. 2019 Kia Optima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The TLX V6’s optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Optima doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The TLX offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Optima doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The TLX offers optional AcuraLink, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions, 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 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 TLX and the Optima 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, 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 Acura TLX is safer than the Kia Optima:

TLX

Optima

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

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 Acura TLX is safer than the Kia Optima:

TLX

Optima

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.8 inches

.8 inches

Hip Force

276 lbs.

306 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

229

319

Spine Acceleration

57 G’s

66 G’s

Hip Force

483 lbs.

933 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

36 G’s

37 G’s

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

Warranty

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

Engine

The TLX has more powerful engines than the Optima:

Horsepower

Torque

TLX 2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

206 HP

182 lbs.-ft.

TLX 3.5 SOHC V6

290 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 Car and Driver the Acura TLX 4-cyl. is faster than the Optima EX 1.6 turbo 4-cyl.:

TLX

Optima

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

7.3 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

17.9 sec

19.1 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7.3 sec

7.6 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

93 MPH

92 MPH

As tested in Motor Trend the Acura TLX V6 is faster than the Optima SX 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.:

TLX

Optima

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14.4 sec

15.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98.4 MPH

90.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the TLX V6’s fuel efficiency. The Optima doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the TLX SH-AWD’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.

The TLX has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Optima doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Acura TLX V6, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the Optima.

Brakes and Stopping

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

TLX

Optima

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.2 inches

The TLX stops much shorter than the Optima:

TLX

Optima

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the TLX has larger standard tires than the Optima (225/55R17 vs. 205/65R16). The TLX A-Spec’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Optima (245/40R19 vs. 235/45R18).

The TLX’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Optima LX’s standard 65 series tires. The TLX A-Spec’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Optima S/SX’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the TLX has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Optima LX. The TLX A-Spec’s 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Optima S/SX.

The TLX 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 doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The TLX handles at .84 G’s, while the Optima pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The TLX V6 SH-AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.1 seconds quicker than the Optima (26.7 seconds @ .76 average G’s vs. 27.8 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Chassis

The TLX uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Optima doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the TLX easier. The TLX’s trunk lift-over height is 27.5 inches, while the Optima’s liftover is 28.7 inches.

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the TLX’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Optima’s useful trunk space.

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the TLX offers cargo security. The Optima’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

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

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Acura service is better than Kia. J.D. Power ranks Acura 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 41% lower rating, Kia is ranked 20th.

Ergonomics

The TLX 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 TLX’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. An easy entry system costs extra on the Optima.

The TLX’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 TLX 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 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The TLX’s standard 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. The TLX’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield.

The TLX V6 offers optional 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 offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The TLX 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.

Both the TLX and the Optima offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the TLX has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Optima doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the TLX owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the TLX will cost $190 less than the Optima over a five-year period.

The TLX will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the TLX will retain 48.4% to 50.83% of its original price after five years, while the Optima only retains 36.86% to 42.42%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the TLX is less expensive to operate than the Optima because typical repairs cost less on the TLX than the Optima, including $13 less for front brake pads and $183 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Acura TLX, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Kia Optima isn't recommended.

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

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