2020 Kia Optima vs. 2020 Dodge Charger

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 2019/10/21

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 Charger doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

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

Optima

Charger

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

22%

26%

Neck Stress

218 lbs.

230 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

114/300 lbs.

582/440 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.7 inches

Leg Forces (l/r)

87/92 lbs.

267/469 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 Charger:

Optima

Charger

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Restraints

GOOD

GOOD

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

152

222

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

4 cm

9 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

18 cm

28 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

2.7/.1 kN

3.7/3 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

1%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

ACCEPTABLE

POOR

Tibia index R/L

.76/.43

1.21/.58

Tibia forces R/L

2.3/.7 kN

3/4.7 kN

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 Dodge Charger:

Optima

Charger

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

111

138

Chest Movement

.8 inches

1.4 inches

Abdominal Force

178 G’s

212 G’s

Hip Force

306 lbs.

372 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

15 inches

HIC

196

270

Spine Acceleration

37 G’s

48 G’s

Hip Force

585 lbs.

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

The Optima’s corrosion warranty is 40,000 miles longer than the Charger’s (5/100,000 vs. 5/60,000).

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 2019/10/21

For smoother operation, better efficiency and fewer moving parts, the engines in the Optima have an overhead cam design, rather than the old pushrod design of some of the engines in the Charger.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the Optima has a standard 800-amp battery (760 SX). The Charger’s 730-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 40 points higher than the Charger.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Optima third among midsize cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Charger 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 Dodge vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, Dodge is ranked 8th.

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 Dodge vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 52 more problems per 100 vehicles, Dodge is ranked 28th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Dodge vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 16 places higher in reliability than Dodge.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Optima EX gets better fuel mileage than the Charger RWD (27 city/37 hwy vs. 19 city/30 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the Optima SX 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. gets better fuel mileage than the Charger RWD with its standard V6 (21 city/30 hwy vs. 19 city/30 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Optima uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Charger Scat Pack requires premium, 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 Dodge Charger (3). This means the Optima produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Charger 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 Charger doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Suspension and Handling

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For better maneuverability, the Optima’s turning circle is 1.7 feet tighter than the Charger Scat Pack’s (35.8 feet vs. 37.5 feet). The Optima’s turning circle is 3.2 feet tighter than the Charger Scat Pack Widebody’s (35.8 feet vs. 39 feet).

Chassis

© 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 2019/10/21

The Kia Optima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 750 to 850 pounds less than the Dodge Charger.

The Optima is 7.3 inches shorter than the Charger SXT, 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 Charger (.304 to .348) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Optima get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

© 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 2019/10/21

The Optima has 1.2 inches more front headroom, 3.7 inches more front legroom and 1.2 inches more rear headroom than the Charger.

Cargo Capacity

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A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Optima easier. The Optima’s trunk lift-over height is 28.7 inches, while the Charger’s liftover is 30.1 inches.

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

Ergonomics

© 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 2019/10/21

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 Charger’s power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

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 Charger’s 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 Charger doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Optima’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Dodge charges extra for heated mirrors on the Charger.

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 Charger 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 2019/10/21

Insurance will cost less for the Optima owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Optima will cost $390 to $7195 less than the Charger over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Optima is less expensive to operate than the Charger because typical repairs cost much less on the Optima than the Charger, including $44 less for a water pump, $798 less for a muffler, $107 less for front brake pads, $6 less for a starter, $277 less for a fuel pump, $37 less for a timing belt/chain and $35 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 $7389 to $13283 less than for the Dodge Charger.

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 2019/10/21

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

The Kia Optima outsold the Dodge Charger by 27% during 2018.

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

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