2020 Kia Optima vs. 2019 Subaru Legacy

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 Legacy doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Optima and the Legacy have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, 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 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 Subaru Legacy:

Optima

Legacy

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

22%

27%

Neck Stress

218 lbs.

259 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 post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Kia Optima is safer than the Subaru Legacy:

Optima

Legacy

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

17 inches

HIC

196

211

Spine Acceleration

37 G’s

40 G’s

Hip Force

585 lbs.

736 lbs.

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

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 Legacy’s 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 Subaru covers the Legacy. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Legacy ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

There are over 22 percent more Kia dealers than there are Subaru dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Optima’s warranty.

Reliability

© 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

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

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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 43 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th, 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 Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

Engine

© 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 has more powerful engines than the Legacy:

Horsepower

Torque

Optima EX 1.6 turbo 4 cyl.

178 HP

195 lbs.-ft.

Optima 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

185 HP

178 lbs.-ft.

Optima SX 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

245 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

Legacy 2.5i 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

175 HP

174 lbs.-ft.

Legacy 3.6R Limited 3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

256 HP

247 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the Optima EX 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Legacy 2.5i 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.:

Optima

Legacy

Zero to 60 MPH

7.5 sec

9.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.8 sec

17 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.1 MPH

84.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 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

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

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

Legacy

FWD

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

3.6 DOHC 6-cyl.

20 city/28 hwy

Brakes and Stopping

© 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

For better stopping power the Optima’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Legacy:

Optima LX/S

Optima EX/SX

Legacy 2.5i

Legacy 3.6R Limited

Front Rotors

12 inches

12.6 inches

11.6 inches

12.4 inches

The Optima stops shorter than the Legacy:

Optima

Legacy

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

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 Legacy (235/45R18 vs. 225/55R17).

The Optima S/SX’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Legacy Sport/Limited’s 50 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Optima’s wheelbase is 2.1 inches longer than on the Legacy (110.4 inches vs. 108.3 inches).

The Optima SX handles at .83 G’s, while the Legacy 3.6R Limited pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

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

Chassis

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The Kia Optima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 150 to 300 pounds less than the Subaru Legacy.

Passenger Space

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Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Optima a Large car, while the Legacy is rated a Mid-size.

The Optima has 2.6 inches more front legroom, .5 inches more front hip room, .2 inches more rear headroom and 1 inch more rear hip room than the Legacy.

Cargo Capacity

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The Optima has a larger trunk than the Legacy (15.9 vs. 15 cubic feet).

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 Legacy 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 has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Legacy doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the Optima to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Subaru doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Legacy.

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 Legacy doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Optima and the Legacy 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 Legacy prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Optima’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Legacy Premium/Sport/Limited.

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 Legacy’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

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 Legacy 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 Legacy doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

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 Legacy doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

© 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

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Optima is less expensive to operate than the Legacy because it costs $327 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Optima than the Legacy, including $117 less for a water pump, $6 less for front brake pads, $223 less for a starter, $109 less for a fuel pump, $165 less for front struts and $24 less for a timing belt/chain.

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 both the Kia Optima and the Subaru Legacy, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Kia Optima outsold the Subaru Legacy by almost three to one during 2018.

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

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