2020 Kia Optima vs. 2019 Ford Taurus

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 2019/10/23

The Optima 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 Taurus doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Optima has standard Autonomous Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Taurus offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The Kia Optima has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Taurus doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

Both the Optima and the Taurus 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 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 Ford Taurus:

Optima

Taurus

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

22%

31%

Neck Stress

218 lbs.

313 lbs.

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

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Kia Optima is safer than the Taurus:

Optima

Taurus

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Restraints

GOOD

GOOD

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

4 cm

4 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

18 cm

20 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

ACCEPTABLE

MARGINAL

Tibia index R/L

.76/.43

1.19/.41

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 Ford Taurus:

Optima

Taurus

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.8 inches

1.2 inches

Hip Force

306 lbs.

337 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

18 inches

HIC

196

376

Spine Acceleration

37 G’s

53 G’s

Hip Force

585 lbs.

743 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 Taurus was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2016.

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 Taurus’ 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

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

Reliability

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To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Optima has a standard 800-amp battery (760 SX). The Taurus’ 600-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Optima third among midsize cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Taurus 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 Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked fourth.

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 Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 13 places higher in reliability than Ford.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

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

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

Taurus

FWD

3.5 DOHC V6

18 city/26 hwy

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

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 Ford Taurus (3). This means the Optima produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Taurus every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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A seven-speed automatic (SMG) is standard on the Kia Optima EX, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Taurus.

The Optima offers an available sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The Taurus doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Suspension and Handling

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The Optima SX handles at .83 G’s, while the Taurus SEL pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Optima’s turning circle is 3.6 feet tighter than the Taurus SHO’s (35.8 feet vs. 39.4 feet). The Optima’s turning circle is 3.7 feet tighter than the Taurus’ (35.8 feet vs. 39.5 feet).

Chassis

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The Kia Optima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 700 to 750 pounds less than the Ford Taurus.

The Optima is 11.8 inches shorter than the Taurus, making the Optima easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Kia Optima amounts to more than styling. The Optima has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .27 Cd. That is significantly lower than the Taurus (.32 to .33) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Optima get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

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The Optima has 2.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Taurus (104.8 vs. 102.2).

The Optima has .8 inches more front headroom, 1.3 inches more front legroom, .2 inches more front shoulder room and .2 inches more rear hip room than the Taurus.

Cargo Capacity

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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 Taurus doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics

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The Optima S/EX/SX’s front power windows open fully with one touch of the switches, and the driver’s window also automatically closes, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Taurus’ passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

The Optima’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 Taurus’ power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

The Optima 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 Taurus 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’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Taurus’ headlights are rated “Poor.”

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 Taurus doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Optima’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Ford only offers heated mirrors on the Taurus SEL/Limited/SHO.

When the Optima EX/SX 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 Taurus’ mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

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 Taurus doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Optima is less expensive to operate than the Taurus because it costs $45 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Optima than the Taurus, including $328 less for a water pump, $463 less for a muffler, $20 less for a fuel pump, $14 less for front struts, $423 less for a timing belt/chain and $136 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Kia Optima will be $10018 to $12327 less than for the Ford Taurus.

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 2019/10/23

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

The Kia Optima outsold the Ford Taurus by almost three to one during 2018.

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

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