2020 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid vs. 2020 Toyota Prius Prime

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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Both the Optima Plug-In Hybrid and the Prius Prime 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, driver alert monitors and available around view monitors.

The Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid weighs 424 to 434 pounds more than the Toyota Prius Prime. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

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 Prius Prime 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 Prius Prime’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 Toyota covers the Prius Prime. 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 Prime 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 Plug-In Hybrid’s 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid produces 81 more horsepower (202 vs. 121) and 170 lbs.-ft. more torque (276 vs. 106) than the Prius Prime’s 1.8 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

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The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has 3.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the Prius Prime (14.5 vs. 11.4 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

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 Prius Prime:

Optima

Prius

Front Rotors

12 inches

10 inches

Rear Rotors

11.2 inches

10.2 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 Prius Prime are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

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

The Optima Plug-In 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 Prime’s standard 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Optima Plug-In Hybrid has standard 17-inch wheels. Only 15-inch wheels are available on the Prius Prime.

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 Prius Prime’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

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

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Optima Plug-In Hybrid is 2.9 inches wider in the front and 2.8 inches wider in the rear than on the Prius Prime.

Chassis

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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 Prius Prime doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has 13.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Prius Prime (104.8 vs. 91.5).

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has .4 inches more front headroom, 2.3 inches more front legroom, 2.3 inches more front hip room, 3.9 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom, 2.2 inches more rear legroom, 4.4 inches more rear hip room and 3.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Prius Prime.

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 Prius Prime doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, 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 Prius Prime 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 Prius Prime 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 Prius Prime doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

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

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

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 Prius Prime’s headlights are rated “Acceptable.”

The Optima Plug-In 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 Prime has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the XLE/Limited.

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 Prius Prime doesn’t offer cornering lights.

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 Prius Prime 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 Prius Prime’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 Prius Prime 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 is only available on the Prius Prime Limited.

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 Prius Prime doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Both the Optima Plug-In Hybrid and the Prius Prime 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 Prius Prime 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 Prius Prime XLE/Limited offers wireless 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 2020/02/29

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

The Kia Optima outsold the Toyota Prius by 39% during 2019.

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