2020 Kia Optima vs. 2020 Ford Fusion

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 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 Fusion doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the Optima and the Fusion 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning and driver alert monitors.

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 Ford Fusion:

Optima

Fusion

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

185

234

Neck Injury Risk

22%

32%

Neck Stress

218 lbs.

234 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

114/300 lbs.

232/354 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

3 Stars

HIC

282

400

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.4 inches

Neck Injury Risk

50%

65%

Neck Stress

192 lbs.

230 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 flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Kia Optima is safer than the Ford Fusion:

Optima

Fusion

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

111

121

Chest Movement

.8 inches

.9 inches

Abdominal Force

178 G’s

269 G’s

Hip Force

306 lbs.

338 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

319

327

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

16 inches

HIC

196

258

Spine Acceleration

37 G’s

45 G’s

Hip Force

585 lbs.

721 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 Fusion was last qualified as only a standard “Top Pick” in 2017.

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 Fusion’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 Ford covers the Fusion. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Fusion 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 Fusion’s 500-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 30 points higher than the Fusion.

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 Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked fourth.

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 Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 13 places higher in reliability than Ford.

Engine

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The Optima has more powerful engines than the Fusion:

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.

Fusion S 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

175 HP

175 lbs.-ft.

Fusion SE/SEL 1.5 turbo 4 cyl.

181 HP

185 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Kia Optima 4 cyl. is faster than the Fusion SE/SEL 1.5 turbo 4 cyl.:

Optima

Fusion

Zero to 60 MPH

8 sec

9.2 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.8 sec

6.1 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

17 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

89 MPH

84.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

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

Fusion

FWD

1.5 Turbo 4-cyl.

23 city/34 hwy

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/31 hwy

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

21 city/31 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Optima uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Fusion Titanium requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Optima has 2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Fusion FWD’s standard fuel tank (18.5 vs. 16.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

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 Fusion.

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

Brakes and Stopping

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

Optima LX/S

Optima EX/SX

Fusion

Front Rotors

12 inches

12.6 inches

11.8 inches

The Optima stops shorter than the Fusion:

Optima

Fusion

60 to 0 MPH

129 feet

130 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

140 feet

141 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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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 Fusion; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

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For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Optima is .5 inches wider in the front and 1.1 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Fusion.

For better maneuverability, the Optima’s turning circle is 1.7 feet tighter than the Fusion’s (35.8 feet vs. 37.5 feet).

Chassis

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The Kia Optima may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 pounds less than the Ford Fusion.

Passenger Space

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

The Optima has .6 inches more front headroom, 1.2 inches more front legroom, 1 inch more front hip room, .3 inches more front shoulder room and 1.6 inches more rear hip room than the Fusion.

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 Fusion 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 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Fusion 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.

Ergonomics

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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 Fusion’s cruise control 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 Fusion’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 Fusion doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Optima’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Heated mirrors cost extra on the Fusion and aren’t offered on the Fusion S.

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

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 Fusion doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Optima is less expensive to operate than the Fusion because typical repairs cost much less on the Optima than the Fusion, including $258 less for a muffler, $99 less for front brake pads, $31 less for a starter, $48 less for fuel injection, $41 less for a timing belt/chain and $309 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 $400 to $4529 less than for the Ford Fusion.

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 the Kia Optima, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Ford Fusion isn't recommended.

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

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