2020 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid vs. 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The e-Golf doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Optima Plug-In Hybrid and the e-Golf 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, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available around view 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 Plug-In Hybrid its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 59 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The e-Golf has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The Optima Plug-In Hybrid comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The e-Golf’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

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

There are over 18 percent more Kia dealers than there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s warranty.

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 Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 43 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

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 Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 18 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

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The Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid produces 68 more horsepower (202 vs. 134) and 62 lbs.-ft. more torque (276 vs. 214) than the e-Golf’s electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

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The Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full charge and a full tank of fuel is 666 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The e-Golf’s range is only 125 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 1 hour for only an 80% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 26 hours.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s brake rotors are larger than those on the e-Golf:

Optima

e-Golf

Front Rotors

12 inches

11.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.2 inches

10.7 inches

The Optima Plug-In 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 e-Golf are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Optima Plug-In Hybrid has larger tires than the e-Golf (215/55R17 vs. 205/55R16).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Optima Plug-In Hybrid has standard 17-inch wheels. Only 16-inch wheels are available on the e-Golf.

Suspension and Handling

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

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s wheelbase is 6.9 inches longer than on the e-Golf (110.4 inches vs. 103.5 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Optima Plug-In Hybrid is 2.3 inches wider in the front and 3.9 inches wider in the rear than on the e-Golf.

Chassis

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The design of the Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid amounts to more than styling. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .25 Cd. That is lower than the e-Golf (.27) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Optima Plug-In Hybrid get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

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Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Optima Plug-In Hybrid a Mid-size car, while the e-Golf is rated a Compact.

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has 11.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the e-Golf (104.8 vs. 93.5).

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has 1.4 inches more front headroom, 4.3 inches more front legroom, 2.2 inches more front shoulder room and 2.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the e-Golf.

Cargo Capacity

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To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just waiting momentarily behind the back bumper can open the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The e-Golf doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics

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When two different drivers share the Optima Plug-In Hybrid, the 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 e-Golf doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The e-Golf doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The e-Golf SEL Premium’s cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s optional adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Optima Plug-In Hybrid has standard extendable sun visors. The e-Golf doesn’t offer extendable visors.

When the Optima Plug-In Hybrid 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 e-Golf’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

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

On extremely cold winter days, the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The e-Golf doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s standard GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The e-Golf’s navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The e-Golf doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/02/19

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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