2021 Volvo S60 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 2020/10/30

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Volvo S60 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.

The S60’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Optima doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the S60 and Optima have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The S60 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Optima’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The S60 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply 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.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The S60 offers optional CTA Auto Brake 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 S60 offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Optima doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The S60 offers an optional 360° Camera 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 S60 and the Optima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning 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, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, with its optional vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the S60 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 32 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Optima last would have qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2019.

Warranty

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The S60’s corrosion warranty is 7 years and unlimited miles longer than the Optima’s (12/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the S60 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Optima.

Reliability

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To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the S60 has a standard 210-amp alternator. The Optima’s standard 150-amp alternator and largest (EX) 130-amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

Engine

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The S60 has more powerful engines than the Optima:

Horsepower

Torque

S60 T5 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

250 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

S60 T6 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder

316 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

S60 Recharge 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder hybrid

400 HP

472 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 Car and Driver the S60 T5 is faster than the Optima EX 1.6 turbo 4-cylinder:

S60

Optima

Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

7.3 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

15.2 sec

19.1 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7 sec

7.6 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98 MPH

92 MPH

As tested in Motor Trend the S60 T6 is faster than the Optima SX 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder:

S60

Optima

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14.3 sec

15.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99.2 MPH

90.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 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 2020/10/30

On the EPA test cycle the S60 Recharge running on electricity running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Optima:

MPGe

S60

AWD

Electric Motor

70 city/68 hwy

Optima

MPG

FWD

EX 1.6 turbo 4-cyl.

27 city/37 hwy

LX 2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

25 city/35 hwy

S 2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

SX 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

On the EPA test cycle the S60 T5 gets better fuel mileage than the Optima SX (23 city/34 hwy vs. 21 city/30 hwy).

The S60 Recharge can drive on battery power alone for up to 22 miles. The Optima must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the S60 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Optima doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the S60’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.

The S60 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Optima doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Volvo S60, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the Optima.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the S60’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Optima:

S60 T5

S60 Polestar

Optima LX/S

Optima EX/SX

Front Rotors

12.7 inches

14.6 inches

12 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

12.6 inches

11.2 inches

11.2 inches

The S60’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Optima are solid, not vented.

The S60 stops much shorter than the Optima:

S60

Optima

70 to 0 MPH

163 feet

185 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

110 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

139 feet

140 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the S60 has larger tires than the Optima (235/45R18 vs. 205/65R16).

The S60’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Optima LX’s standard 65 series tires. The S60’s optional tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Optima S/SX’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the S60 has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Optima LX. The S60’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Optima S/SX.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S60’s wheelbase is 2.7 inches longer than on the Optima (113.1 inches vs. 110.4 inches).

The S60’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (55% to 45%) than the Optima’s (59.2% to 40.8%). This gives the S60 more stable handling and braking.

The S60 R-Design AWD handles at .91 G’s, while the Optima pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The S60 Polestar executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.4 seconds quicker than the Optima (25.4 seconds @ .75 average G’s vs. 27.8 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Chassis

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The S60 is 3.7 inches shorter than the Optima, making the S60 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 S60 easier. The S60’s trunk lift-over height is 26 inches, while the Optima’s liftover is 28.7 inches.

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the S60’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. The Optima’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge.

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the S60’s optional rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Optima doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the S60 offers cargo security. The Optima’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the S60. The Optima doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the S60 has a standard power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button or just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The Optima doesn’t offer a power trunk, so its trunk has to be closed manually.

Towing

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The S60 has a 2000 lbs. towing capacity. The Optima has no towing capacity.

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Optima EX Premium/SX, the S60 R-Design/Inscription has a passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The S60 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Optima doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The S60’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 S60’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 S60 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows 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 S60’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Optima’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the S60 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Optima doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

Consumer Reports rated the S60’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the Optima’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The S60 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Optima doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The S60’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Optima offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the S60 and the Optima offer available heated front seats. The S60 T6/Recharge also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Optima.

The S60 Inscription offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Optima.

The S60 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Optima EX/SX.

Both the S60 and the Optima offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the S60 has available rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Optima doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The S60’s optional Park Assist Pilot can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Optima doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the S60 is less expensive to operate than the Optima because typical repairs cost less on the S60 than the Optima, including $103 less for a timing belt/chain and $60 less for a power steering pump.

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 2020/10/30

J.D. Power and Associates rated the S60 second among compact premium 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 in its category.

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

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