2020 Kia Optima vs. 2020 Nissan Altima

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 Altima doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the Optima and the Altima 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, rearview cameras and driver alert monitors.

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 Altima is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2019.

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

Reliability

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To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Optima has a standard 150-amp alternator. The Altima’s standard 120-amp alternator 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 Altima.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Optima third among midsize cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Altima isn’t in the top three.

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 Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 7th.

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 Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 9 places higher in reliability than Nissan.

Engine

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The Optima has more powerful engines than the Altima:

Torque

Optima EX 1.6 turbo 4 cyl.

195 lbs.-ft.

Optima 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

178 lbs.-ft.

Optima SX 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

260 lbs.-ft.

Altima 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

178 lbs.-ft.

Altima 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

180 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the Optima SX 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Nissan Altima 4 cyl.:

Optima

Altima

Zero to 60 MPH

7.3 sec

7.4 sec

Quarter Mile

15.6 sec

15.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.3 MPH

90.2 MPH

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

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Kia Optima uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Altima with the 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Optima has 2.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the Altima AWD’s standard fuel tank (18.5 vs. 16 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Optima has 2.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Altima FWD’s standard fuel tank (18.5 vs. 16.2 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

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

Optima LX/S

Optima EX/SX

Altima

Front Rotors

12 inches

12.6 inches

11.65 inches

Rear Rotors

11.2 inches

11.2 inches

11.02 inches

The Optima stops shorter than the Altima:

Optima

Altima

60 to 0 MPH

129 feet

131 feet

Consumer Reports

Suspension and Handling

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For better maneuverability, the Optima’s turning circle is .3 feet tighter than the Altima S’ (35.8 feet vs. 36.1 feet). The Optima’s turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the Altima SR/SV/SL/Platinum’s (35.8 feet vs. 37.4 feet).

Passenger Space

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

The Optima has 4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Altima (104.8 vs. 100.8).

The Optima has .6 inches more front headroom, 1.7 inches more front legroom, 1.3 inches more front hip room, .9 inches more rear headroom, .4 inches more rear legroom and 1.5 inches more rear hip room than the Altima.

Cargo Capacity

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The Optima has a larger trunk than the Altima (15.9 vs. 15.4 cubic feet).

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 Altima 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 Altima 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 power windows standard on both the Optima and the Altima have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Optima is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Altima prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 Altima’s headlights are rated “Acceptable” to “Marginal.”

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 Altima doesn’t offer cornering lights.

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

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

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 Altima doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

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 Altima 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 2019/10/16

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Optima is less expensive to operate than the Altima because it costs $91 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Optima than the Altima, including $13 less for a water pump, $92 less for a muffler, $23 less for front brake pads, $105 less for a starter, $72 less for fuel injection, $85 less for a fuel pump, $72 less for front struts, $51 less for a timing belt/chain and $76 less for a power steering pump.

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 Nissan Altima, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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

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