2020 Kia Optima vs. 2020 Lexus ES Series

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 ES Series doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the Optima and the ES Series 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, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras 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 Lexus ES Series:

Optima

ES Series

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

22%

24%

Neck Stress

218 lbs.

239 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

114/300 lbs.

524/628 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

282

319

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.8 inches

Leg Forces (l/r)

87/92 lbs.

473/518 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

© 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 comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The ES Series’ 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Optima 4 years and 30,000 miles longer than Lexus covers the ES Series. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the ES Series ends after only 6 years or 70,000 miles.

There are over 3 times as many Kia dealers as there are Lexus 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 ES Series’ 603-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 ES Series 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 Lexus vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, Lexus is ranked 8th.

Engine

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As tested in Motor Trend the Optima EX 1.6 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the ES 300h 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid:

Optima

ES Series

Zero to 60 MPH

7.5 sec

7.8 sec

Quarter Mile

15.8 sec

16 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

© 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 5.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the ES Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (18.5 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Optima has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the ES Series’ standard fuel tank (18.5 vs. 15.9 gallons).

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

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Optima EX/SX’s brake rotors are larger than those on the ES Series:

Optima EX/SX

ES Series

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12 inches

Rear Rotors

11.2 inches

11.1 inches

The Optima stops much shorter than the ES Series:

Optima

ES Series

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

140 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

© 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 front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The ES Series’ suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Optima SX handles at .83 G’s, while the ES 300h pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Optima SX executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the ES 300h (27.4 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Optima’s turning circle is 2.2 feet tighter than the ES Series’ (35.8 feet vs. 38 feet). The Optima’s turning circle is 3 feet tighter than the ES Series w/18-19” wheels’ (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 150 to 400 pounds less than the Lexus ES Series.

The Optima is 4.8 inches shorter than the ES Series, making the Optima easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

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

The Optima has 4.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the ES Series (104.8 vs. 99.9).

The Optima has 2.3 inches more front headroom, 3.1 inches more front legroom, 1 inch more front hip room, 2.2 inches more front shoulder room, 1.7 inches more rear hip room and 2.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the ES Series.

Cargo Capacity

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The Optima’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The ES Series doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Optima owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Optima will cost $890 less than the ES Series over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Optima is less expensive to operate than the ES Series because typical repairs cost much less on the Optima than the ES Series, including $153 less for a water pump, $201 less for a muffler, $25 less for front brake pads, $317 less for a starter, $168 less for fuel injection, $152 less for a fuel pump, $293 less for front struts, $922 less for a timing belt/chain and $805 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 $6179 to $10718 less than for the Lexus ES Series.

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 Lexus ES Series, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Kia Optima outsold the Lexus ES Series by over two to one during 2018.

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

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