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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 Kona Electric doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
Both the Optima Plug-In Hybrid and the Kona Electric 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, driver alert monitors and available around view monitors.
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 Hyundai vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, Hyundai is ranked third.
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 Kona Electric’s range is only 258 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 54 minutes 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 9 hours and 35 minutes.
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 Kona Electric are solid, not vented.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s wheelbase is 8 inches longer than on the Kona Electric (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 1.5 inches wider in the front and 1.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Kona Electric.
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 Kona Electric (.29) 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 Optima Plug-In Hybrid uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Kona Electric doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has 12.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Kona Electric (104.8 vs. 92.4).
The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has .2 inches more front headroom, 4 inches more front legroom, 2.7 inches more front hip room, 2.6 inches more front shoulder room, .1 inches more rear headroom, 2.2 inches more rear legroom, 3.8 inches more rear hip room and 1.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the Kona Electric.
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 Kona Electric doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The Optima Plug-In Hybrid uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Kona Electric 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.
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 Kona Electric 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 Kona Electric doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The Optima Plug-In Hybrid’s front power windows 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 Kona Electric’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. The Kona Electric Limited/Ultimate’s rear windows don’t close automatically.
The Optima Plug-In 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 Kona Electric’s passenger power window switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.
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 Kona Electric 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 Kona Electric’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
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 is only available on the Kona Electric Ultimate.
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 Kona Electric doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.
Both the Optima Plug-In Hybrid and the Kona Electric 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 Kona Electric 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 Plug-In Hybrid has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. Only the Kona Electric Limited/Ultimate offers wireless charging.
Consumer Reports® recommends both the Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid and the Hyundai Kona Electric, based on reliability, safety and performance.
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