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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 Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
The Optima’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.
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 Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the Optima and the Jetta GLI 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, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras and rear cross-path warning.
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 Jetta GLI has not been tested, yet.
Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Optima 4 years and 28000 miles longer than Volkswagen covers the Jetta GLI. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Jetta GLI ends after only 6 years or 72000 miles.
There are over 18 percent more Kia dealers than there are Volkswagen dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Optima’s warranty.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Optima third among midsize cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Jetta GLI 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 Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 43 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen 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 Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 11 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.
The Optima SX’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 17 more horsepower (245 vs. 228) and 2 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 258) than the Jetta GLI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.
On the EPA test cycle the Optima EX gets better fuel mileage than the Jetta GLI SMG (27 city/37 hwy vs. 25 city/32 hwy).
To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Optima uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Jetta GLI requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.
The Optima has 5.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Jetta GLI (18.5 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
The Kia Optima comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Jetta GLI.
For better traction, the Optima S/SX’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Jetta GLI (235/45R18 vs. 225/40R18).
The Optima has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Jetta GLI’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Optima’s wheelbase is 4.8 inches longer than on the Jetta GLI (110.4 inches vs. 105.6 inches).
For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Optima is 2.5 inches wider in the front and 3.1 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Jetta GLI.
For better maneuverability, the Optima’s turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the Jetta GLI’s (35.8 feet vs. 36.4 feet).
Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Optima a Large car, while the Jetta GLI is rated a Compact.
The Optima has 10.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Jetta GLI (104.8 vs. 94.7).
The Optima has 1.3 inches more front headroom, 4.4 inches more front legroom, 2.2 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom and 2.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Jetta GLI.
The Optima has a much larger trunk than the Jetta GLI (15.9 vs. 14.1 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 Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The Optima uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Jetta GLI 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.
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 Jetta GLI 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 Jetta GLI doesn’t offer cornering lights.
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 Jetta GLI’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
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 Jetta GLI doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.
Both the Optima and the Jetta GLI 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 Jetta GLI doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Optima EX/SX has a standard Advanced Smart Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Jetta GLI doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
The Optima EX Premium/SX’s standard GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that plots alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The Jetta GLI’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.
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 Jetta GLI doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Kia Optima, based on reliability, safety and performance.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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