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The Optima Hybrid has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The MKZ doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
The Optima Hybrid EX offers an optional Around View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The MKZ only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.
Both the Optima Hybrid and the MKZ 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, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning and driver alert monitors.
For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Optima Hybrid its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The MKZ was last qualified as only a standard “Top Pick” in 2017.
The Optima Hybrid comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The MKZ’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.
Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Optima Hybrid 4 years and 30,000 miles longer than Lincoln covers the MKZ. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the MKZ ends after only 6 years or 70,000 miles.
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 Optima Hybrid’s reliability 46 points higher than the MKZ.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Lincoln vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, Lincoln is ranked fifth.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Lincoln vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 21 more problems per 100 vehicles, Lincoln is ranked 19th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Lincoln vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 15 places higher in reliability than Lincoln.
On the EPA test cycle the Optima Hybrid gets better fuel mileage than the MKZ Hybrid CVT (40 city/45 hwy vs. 42 city/39 hwy).
To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Optima Hybrid uses regular unleaded gasoline. The MKZ with the 3.0 turbo V6 engine requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.
The Optima Hybrid has 1.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the MKZ Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (15.9 vs. 14 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
For better stopping power the Optima Hybrid’s standard front brake rotors are larger than those on the MKZ:
The Optima Hybrid’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the MKZ are solid, not vented.
The Optima Hybrid has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The MKZ’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Optima Hybrid is .8 inches wider in the front and 1.4 inches wider in the rear than on the MKZ.
For better maneuverability, the Optima Hybrid’s turning circle is 3.2 feet tighter than the MKZ’s (35.8 feet vs. 39 feet).
The Kia Optima Hybrid may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 to 700 pounds less than the Lincoln MKZ.
The Optima Hybrid has 8.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the MKZ (104.8 vs. 96.6).
The Optima Hybrid has 1.9 inches more front headroom, 1.2 inches more front legroom, .9 inches more front hip room, .4 inches more front shoulder room, 1.2 inches more rear headroom, 2.2 inches more rear hip room and 1.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the MKZ.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Optima Hybrid’s trunk can be opened just by waiting momentarily behind the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The MKZ doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The Optima Hybrid’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The MKZ’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.
The Optima Hybrid has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The MKZ doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Optima Hybrid’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the MKZ’s headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”
When the Optima Hybrid with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The MKZ’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Kia Optima Hybrid will be $5268 to $19872 less than for the Lincoln MKZ.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Optima Hybrid, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Lincoln MKZ isn't recommended.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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