2020 Kia Optima Hybrid vs. 2020 Toyota Prius

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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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 Prius 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 Prius 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, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras 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 Prius is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

Warranty

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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 Prius’ 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Optima Hybrid 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Toyota covers the Prius. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Prius ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Reliability

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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 Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 8th.

Engine

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The Optima Hybrid’s 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 71 more horsepower (192 vs. 121) and 165 lbs.-ft. more torque (271 vs. 106) than the Prius’ 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

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The Optima Hybrid has 5.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Prius AWD-e’s standard fuel tank (15.9 vs. 10.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Optima Hybrid has 4.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Prius FWD’s standard fuel tank (15.9 vs. 11.3 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

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

Optima Hybrid

Prius

Front Rotors

12 inches

10 inches

Rear Rotors

11.2 inches

10.2 inches

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 Prius are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Optima Hybrid has larger tires than the Prius (215/55R17 vs. 195/65R15).

The Optima Hybrid’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Prius L Eco/LE’s standard 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Optima Hybrid has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Prius L Eco/LE.

Suspension and Handling

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The Optima Hybrid has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Prius’ suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Optima Hybrid’s wheelbase is 4.1 inches longer than on the Prius (110.4 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Optima Hybrid is 3.3 inches wider in the front and 3.2 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the Prius.

The Optima Hybrid’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (58.3% to 41.7%) than the Prius’ (61% to 39%). This gives the Optima Hybrid more stable handling and braking.

Chassis

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

Passenger Space

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The Optima Hybrid has 11.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Prius (104.8 vs. 93.1).

The Optima Hybrid has .4 inches more front headroom, 3.2 inches more front legroom, 2.6 inches more front hip room, 3.1 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom, 2.2 inches more rear legroom, 4.1 inches more rear hip room and 3.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Prius.

Cargo Capacity

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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 Prius doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

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The Optima Hybrid uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Prius uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

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When two different drivers share the Optima Hybrid, the optional memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Prius doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Optima Hybrid’s optional easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Prius doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Optima Hybrid’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Prius’ parking brake has to released manually.

The power windows standard on both the Optima Hybrid and the Prius have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Optima Hybrid is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Prius prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 Prius’ cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

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 Prius’ headlights are rated “Acceptable.”

The Optima Hybrid has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. When the ignition turns off, the headlights turn off after a delay timed to allow you to securely get to your front door. The Prius has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the XLE/Limited.

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 Prius’ mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Optima Hybrid keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Prius doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Optima Hybrid’s 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. The Prius doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

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

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Kia Optima Hybrid has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. Only the Prius XLE/Limited offers wireless charging.

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