2020 Kia Optima vs. 2019 Acura ILX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 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 2019/10/16

The Optima’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 ILX doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Optima and the ILX 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, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems and rearview cameras.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Kia Optima is safer than the Acura ILX:

Optima

ILX

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

185

227

Neck Injury Risk

22%

26%

Neck Stress

218 lbs.

257 lbs.

Neck Compression

55 lbs.

56 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.5 inches

Leg Forces (l/r)

87/92 lbs.

768/623 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Kia Optima is safer than the Acura ILX:

Optima

ILX

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

111

234

Chest Movement

.8 inches

.9 inches

Hip Force

306 lbs.

487 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

319

324

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

14 inches

HIC

196

299

Spine Acceleration

37 G’s

56 G’s

Hip Force

585 lbs.

945 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

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 its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The ILX was last qualified as only a standard “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

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The Optima comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The ILX’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Optima 4 years and 30,000 miles longer than Acura covers the ILX. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the ILX ends after only 6 years or 70,000 miles.

There are almost 3 times as many Kia dealers as there are Acura dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Optima’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates rated the Optima third among midsize cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The ILX isn’t in the top three in its category.

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 Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 40 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 24th, 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 Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 45 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 8 places higher in reliability than Acura.

Engine

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The Optima EX’s standard 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. produces 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (195 vs. 180) than the ILX’s 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl. The Optima SX’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 44 more horsepower (245 vs. 201) and 80 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 180) than the ILX’s 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Optima gets better fuel mileage than the ILX:

MPG

Optima

FWD

EX 1.6 Turbo 4-cyl.

27 city/37 hwy

2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

FE 2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

25 city/35 hwy

ILX

FWD

2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

24 city/34 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Optima uses regular unleaded gasoline. The ILX requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Optima has 5.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the ILX (18.5 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Kia Optima higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Acura ILX (3). This means the Optima produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the ILX every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Optima EX/SX’s brake rotors are larger than those on the ILX:

Optima EX/SX

ILX

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.2 inches

11.1 inches

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Optima S/SX’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the ILX (235/45R18 vs. 225/40R18).

The Optima SX has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the ILX; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Optima’s wheelbase is 5.3 inches longer than on the ILX (110.4 inches vs. 105.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Optima is 3.8 inches wider in the front and 3.3 inches wider in the rear than the track on the ILX.

The Optima’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (59.2% to 40.8%) than the ILX’s (63% to 37%). This gives the Optima more stable handling and braking.

For better maneuverability, the Optima’s turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the ILX’s (35.8 feet vs. 36.8 feet).

Passenger Space

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Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Optima a Large car, while the ILX is rated a Compact.

The Optima has 15.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the ILX (104.8 vs. 89.3).

The Optima has 1.8 inches more front headroom, 3.2 inches more front legroom, 5.7 inches more front hip room, 2.5 inches more front shoulder room, 1.9 inches more rear headroom, 1.6 inches more rear legroom, 4.3 inches more rear hip room and 2.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the ILX.

Cargo Capacity

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The Optima has a much larger trunk than the ILX (15.9 vs. 12.4 cubic feet).

The Optima’s standard folding rear seats are split to accommodate bulky cargo. The ILX’s standard single piece folding rear seat is not as flexible; long cargo and a passenger can’t share the rear seat.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Optima S/EX/SX’s trunk can be opened just by waiting momentarily behind the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The ILX 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 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The ILX 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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The Optima’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 ILX doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Optima and the ILX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Optima is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The ILX 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’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the ILX’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Optima detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The ILX doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Optima SX has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The ILX doesn’t offer cornering lights.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Optima EX Premium/SX keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The ILX doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Optima EX Premium/SX’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The ILX doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Both the Optima and the ILX offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Optima EX/SX has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The ILX 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 EX/SX has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The ILX doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Optima owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Optima with a number “1” insurance rate while the ILX is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

The Optima will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Optima will retain 39.17% to 40.49% of its original price after five years, while the ILX only retains 36.22% to 38.53%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Optima is less expensive to operate than the ILX because typical repairs cost much less on the Optima than the ILX, including $105 less for a water pump, $37 less for a muffler, $6 less for front brake pads, $387 less for a starter, $233 less for fuel injection, $221 less for a fuel pump, $184 less for front struts and $306 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 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 2019/10/16

Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Optima, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Kia Optima outsold the Acura ILX by over 9 to one during 2018.

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

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