2020 Kia Optima vs. 2020 Chevrolet Impala

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 2019/10/15

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 Impala doesn’t offer a whiplash protection 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 Impala doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Optima and the Impala have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee 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, daytime running lights 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 Chevrolet Impala:

Optima

Impala

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

185

229

Neck Injury Risk

22%

23.3%

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 Impala:

Optima

Impala

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Restraints

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

ACCEPTABLE

GOOD

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 Chevrolet Impala:

Optima

Impala

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Movement

.8 inches

1.3 inches

Abdominal Force

178 G’s

180 G’s

Hip Force

306 lbs.

332 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

13 inches

HIC

196

315

Spine Acceleration

37 G’s

38 G’s

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 Impala 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 Impala’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 Chevrolet covers the Impala. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Impala 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 Impala’s 512-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 Impala 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 Chevrolet vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chevrolet is ranked 6th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 18 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

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

Impala

FWD

3.6 DOHC V6

19 city/28 hwy

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 Chevrolet Impala (3 to 7). This means the Optima produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Impala 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 Impala.

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 Impala doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Optima stops shorter than the Impala:

Optima

Impala

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

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For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Optima is 1 inch wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Impala.

The Optima handles at .83 G’s, while the Impala LT pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Optima’s turning circle is 3 feet tighter than the Impala’s (35.8 feet vs. 38.8 feet).

Chassis

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The Kia Optima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 to 500 pounds less than the Chevrolet Impala.

The Optima is 10.2 inches shorter than the Impala, making the Optima easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

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The Optima has 1.1 inches more front hip room, .2 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom and 1.9 inches more rear hip room than the Impala.

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 Impala 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 both open or close with one touch of the switches. The Impala’s front passenger window doesn’t close automatically.

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

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 Impala is rated higher at a number “3” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Optima is less expensive to operate than the Impala because it costs $391 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Optima than the Impala, including $247 less for a water pump, $314 less for a muffler, $85 less for front brake pads, $154 less for a starter, $176 less for fuel injection, $185 less for a fuel pump, $40 less for front struts, $166 less for a timing belt/chain and $79 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 $3933 to $6242 less than for the Chevrolet Impala.

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 2019/10/15

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

The Kia Optima outsold the Chevrolet Impala by 80% during 2018.

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

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