2020 Nissan Altima vs. 2020 Kia Optima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 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 2020/03/31

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Altima have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Kia Optima doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Altima are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Optima doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Altima SV/SL/Platinum has standard Rear Automatic Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Optima doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Altima offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Optima doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Altima Platinum has a standard Around View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Optima only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

Both the Altima and the Optima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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, driver alert monitors, available daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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The Altima’s 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Optima runs out after 100,000 miles.

There are over 41 percent more Nissan dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Altima’s warranty.

Reliability

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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 Altima’s reliability 27 points higher than the Optima.

Engine

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The Altima has more powerful engines than the Optima:

Horsepower

Torque

Altima 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder

182 HP

178 lbs.-ft.

Altima 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder

188 HP

180 lbs.-ft.

Altima 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

248 HP

273 lbs.-ft.

Optima EX 1.6 turbo 4-cylinder

178 HP

195 lbs.-ft.

Optima 2.4 DOHC 4-cylinder

185 HP

178 lbs.-ft.

Optima SX 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

245 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Nissan Altima 4 cyl. is faster than the Kia Optima 4 cyl.:

Altima

Optima

Zero to 30 MPH

3.1 sec

3.3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.6 sec

8 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.5 sec

4.8 sec

Quarter Mile

15.9 sec

16.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92 MPH

89 MPH

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

Altima

Optima

Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

15.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

97.4 MPH

90.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Altima

FWD

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

28 city/39 hwy

SR 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

27 city/37 hwy

SR 2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

AWD

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

SR 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

25 city/35 hwy

Optima

FWD

1.6 Turbo 4-cyl.

27 city/37 hwy

FE 2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

25 city/35 hwy

2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Altima’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Optima doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Nissan Altima higher (7 out of 10) than the Kia Optima (5 to 7). This means the Altima produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Optima every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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The Altima has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The Optima doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Altima stops much shorter than the Optima:

Altima

Optima

70 to 0 MPH

172 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Altima has larger standard tires than the Optima (215/60R16 vs. 205/65R16).

The Altima S’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Optima LX’s standard 65 series tires. The Altima SR/Platinum’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Optima S/SX’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Altima SR/Platinum has standard 19-inch wheels. The Optima’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

The Altima has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Optima doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

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The Altima SR handles at .89 G’s, while the Optima pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Altima Platinum executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.5 seconds quicker than the Optima (26.3 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 27.8 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Chassis

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The front grille of the Altima uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Optima doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Altima SL/Platinum uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Optima doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The Altima has .1 inches more front shoulder room and .7 inches more rear shoulder room than the Optima.

Cargo Capacity

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A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the Altima. The Optima doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Ergonomics

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The Altima’s standard driver’s power window opens or closes with one touch of the window control, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths. The Optima’s standard driver’s power window switch has to be held the entire time to close it fully.

If the windows are left open on the Altima the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Optima can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Altima’s speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Optima’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Consumer Reports rated the Altima’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the Optima’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

Economic Advantages

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The Altima will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Altima will retain 42.51% to 43.88% of its original price after five years, while the Optima only retains 39.17% to 40.49%.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 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 2020/03/31

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

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Altima first among midsize cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Optima isn’t in the top three.

The Altima was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2019. The Optima has never been an “All Star.”

The Nissan Altima outsold the Kia Optima by over two to one during 2019.

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