2020 Toyota Corolla vs. 2020 Kia Optima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The Corolla has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Optima doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Both the Corolla and the Optima 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, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors and available blind spot warning systems.

Warranty

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

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Corolla for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Optima.

There are over 59 percent more Toyota dealers than there are Kia dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Corolla’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 Corolla’s reliability 20 points higher than the Optima.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Corolla second among compact cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Optima was rated third in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Kia is ranked 10th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Kia vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Kia is ranked fifth.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Corolla

FWD

Manual

1.8 DOHC 4-cyl.

29 city/39 hwy

2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

29 city/36 hwy

Auto

2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

31 city/40 hwy

XSE 2.0 DOHC 4-cyl.

31 city/38 hwy

1.8 DOHC 4-cyl.

30 city/38 hwy

XSE 1.8 DOHC 4-cyl.

29 city/37 hwy

Optima

FWD

1.6 Turbo 4-cyl.

27 city/37 hwy

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

FE 2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

25 city/35 hwy

2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

Transmission

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The Corolla 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 Corolla stops much shorter than the Optima:

Corolla

Optima

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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The Corolla SE/XSE’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Optima S/SX’s 45 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The Corolla XSE handles at .83 G’s, while the Optima pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Corolla’s turning circle is 1.7 feet tighter than the Optima’s (34.1 feet vs. 35.8 feet).

Chassis

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The Toyota Corolla may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 400 pounds less than the Kia Optima.

The Corolla is 8.8 inches shorter than the Optima, making the Corolla easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

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A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Corolla easier. The Corolla’s trunk lift-over height is 27.1 inches, while the Optima’s liftover is 28.7 inches.

Ergonomics

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The Corolla’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Optima’s parking brake has to released manually.

The Corolla’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Optima’s standard power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically. With the Optima S/EX/SX’s power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Corolla 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. (This window function must be activated by your Toyota service department.) The driver of the Optima can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Model Availability

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The Toyota Corolla comes in sedan and four door hatchback bodystyles; the Kia Optima isn’t available as a four door hatchback.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Corolla is less expensive to operate than the Optima because it costs $319 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Corolla than the Optima, including $12 less for front brake pads.

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 2019/10/14

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

The Toyota Corolla outsold the Kia Optima by over three to one during the 2019 model year.

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

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