Kia Optima vs. Hyundai Sonata

By

Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - March 24, 2020

Kia and Hyundai share a lot of components. From platforms and engines to warranties and infotainment systems, the two South Korean brands have similar vehicles throughout their respective lineups. Despite the small and large similarities, the two brands make vehicles that are drastically different from one another. When it comes to midsize sedans, Kia offers the Optima, while Hyundai sells the Sonata. But which one is better?

The answer isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Kia’s bolstered the Optima’s list of standard and optional features, but the sedan is still built on the fourth-generation model that was introduced in 2016. Hyundai, on the other hand, introduced an all-new Sonata for the 2020 model year. It has a more striking design and more tech features than ever before. Is the new Sonata a better buy than the Optima? That’s what we’ll answer below.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Optima & Sonata »

What the Optima Gets Right

The Kia Optima gets an edge over the Sonata when it comes to pricing. The Optima starts at $24,115 including destination, while the Sonata is priced from $24,330. The $215 difference between the two models may not seem like a wide margin, but every little bit helps when purchasing a new car.

At the top of the range, the Optima is much more affordable than the Sonata. The Optima SX costs $32,915, while the Sonata Limited carries a starting price of $34,230. If you’re looking at the top models, you’ll save $1,315 by going with the Optima.

When it comes to performance, the Optima is the way to go. While the Sonata is available with two engines, the Optima has three. The Optima SX packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 245 horsepower, while the most powerful Sonata engine only makes 191 hp.

What the Sonata Gets Right

One of the more personal aspects of a car is its styling. While some may like the way the Optima looks, the Hyundai Sonata is one of the better-looking sedans on the market in our opinion, both inside and out.

When it comes to tech features, the Sonata bests the Optima. At the top of the range, the Sonata can be fitted with a 10.25-inch touchscreen, a 12.3-inch LCD display in the instrument cluster, remote smart parking assist, a head-up display, and Highway Drive Assist, which uses lane following assist and adaptive cruise control to handle a lot of driving on the highway.

If you’re looking to save money at the pumps, the Sonata is the better option of the two. The base Sonata can get up to 32 miles per gallon combined, according to the EPA. The base Optima achieves only 27 mpg combined, while the best it can do is 31 mpg combined.

Not to mention, the Sonata is available as a hybrid that gets 52 mpg combined. The Kia Optima Hybrid is only rated at 42 mpg combined.

Want Performance or Tech?

As this comparison reveals, the Optima and Sonata are awfully close to one another in a head-to-head competition. If there’s one clear difference between the two, it’s that the Optima has a 245-hp engine, while the most powerful engine in the Sonata makes just 191 hp. The Optima isn’t the sharpest midsize sedan to drive around corners, but it's more athletic than the Sonata. So, if performance is what you want, go with the Optima.

Our Verdict: Hyundai Sonata

The Hyundai Sonata wins this comparison because it’s newer, has a better-looking design, and can be fitted with a lot more technology than the Optima. The only place where you might be disappointed with the Sonata is when it comes to power, but for the majority of consumers, it’s the better overall option.

Take a closer look at the Kia Optima »

Take a closer look at the Hyundai Sonata »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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