2020 Kia Optima vs. 2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Kia Optima are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

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 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Optima and the 3 Series Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, 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.

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 3 Series Sedan’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Optima 6 years and 50,000 miles longer than BMW covers the 3 Series Sedan. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the 3 Series Sedan ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 2 times as many Kia dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Optima’s warranty.

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 3 Series Sedan’s 720-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Optima’s reliability 20 points higher than the 3 Series Sedan.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Optima third among midsize cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The 3 Series Sedan 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 BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 32 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 20th, below the industry average.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 3 places higher in reliability than BMW.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Optima EX gets better fuel mileage than the 330i RWD (27 city/37 hwy vs. 26 city/36 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Optima uses regular unleaded gasoline. The 3 Series Sedan requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Optima has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the 3 Series Sedan (18.5 vs. 15.6 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 BMW 3 Series Sedan (3 to 7). This means the Optima produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the 3 Series Sedan every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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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 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

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 3 Series Sedan (235/45R18 vs. 225/35R20).

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 3 Series Sedan; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed. Some models of the 3 Series Sedan don’t even offer run-flats.

Suspension and Handling

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For better maneuverability, the Optima’s turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the 3 Series Sedan’s (35.8 feet vs. 37.4 feet). The Optima’s turning circle is 3.4 feet tighter than the 3 Series Sedan xDrive’s (35.8 feet vs. 39.2 feet).

Chassis

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The Kia Optima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 400 pounds less than the BMW 3 Series Sedan.

Passenger Space

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The Optima has 1.1 inches more front headroom, 3.5 inches more front legroom, 2.1 inches more front shoulder room, .2 inches more rear headroom, .4 inches more rear legroom and 1.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the 3 Series Sedan.

The front step up height for the Optima is 1.5 inches lower than the 3 Series Sedan (15” vs. 16.5”). The Optima’s rear step up height is 1 inches lower than the 3 Series Sedan’s (15.3” vs. 16.3”).

Cargo Capacity

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The Optima has a much larger trunk than the 3 Series Sedan (15.9 vs. 13 cubic feet).

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 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

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 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

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 BMW 3 Series Sedan, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Kia Optima outsold the BMW 3 Series by over two to one during 2018.

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

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