2020 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid vs. 2020 Chevrolet Bolt

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 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 2020/02/21

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Chevrolet Bolt doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Optima Plug-In 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 Bolt doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

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 Bolt doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Optima Plug-In Hybrid and the Bolt have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, 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 Bolt is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

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 Bolt’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 Chevrolet covers the Bolt. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Bolt 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 Chevrolet vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chevrolet is ranked 6th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 16 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.

Engine

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The Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid produces 2 more horsepower (202 vs. 200) and 10 lbs.-ft. more torque (276 vs. 266) than the Bolt’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 Bolt’s range is only 259 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 30 minutes for only a 45% 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 50 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 Bolt:

Optima

Bolt

Front Rotors

12 inches

10.9 inches

Rear Rotors

11.2 inches

10.4 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 Bolt are solid, not vented.

Suspension and Handling

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For superior ride and handling, the Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Chevrolet Bolt has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

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

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Optima Plug-In Hybrid flat and controlled during cornering. The Bolt’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Bolt doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s wheelbase is 8 inches longer than on the Bolt (110.4 inches vs. 102.4 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Optima Plug-In Hybrid is 4 inches wider in the front and 4.3 inches wider in the rear than on the Bolt.

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (55% to 45%) than the Bolt’s (56.3% to 43.7%). This gives the Optima Plug-In Hybrid more stable handling and braking.

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 significantly lower than the Bolt (.31) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Optima Plug-In Hybrid get better fuel mileage.

The front grille of the Optima Plug-In Hybrid uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Bolt doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has 10.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Bolt (104.8 vs. 94.4).

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has .1 inches more front headroom, 3.9 inches more front legroom, 4.4 inches more front hip room, 3.5 inches more front shoulder room, 5.2 inches more rear hip room and 3.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Bolt.

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 Bolt 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 Plug-In Hybrid uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Bolt 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 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 Bolt 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 Bolt doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s front power windows open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Bolt’s front passenger window doesn’t close automatically.

The Optima Plug-In 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 Bolt 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 Plug-In Hybrid’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Bolt’s headlights are rated “Acceptable.”

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Optima Plug-In Hybrid offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Bolt doesn’t offer cornering lights.

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 Bolt’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 Bolt doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has a standard heated steering wheel to take the chill out of steering on extremely cold winter days before the car heater warms up. A heated steering wheel costs extra on the Bolt.

The Optima Plug-In 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 Bolt doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

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

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Optima Plug-In Hybrid has a standard Advanced Smart Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Bolt doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

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. Only the Bolt Premier offers wireless charging and it costs extra.

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 2020/02/21

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

The Kia Optima outsold the Chevrolet Bolt by almost six to one during 2019.

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

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