2017 Kia Optima vs Hyundai Sonata

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Several models will immediately come to mind when you say “midsize sedans”–but a few of them are just as good, if not better, even if they’re not as popular. Two of those up-and-comers are the 2017 Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata, so let’s see how they compare to each other.

2017 Kia Optima vs Hyundai Sonata


Although these two sedans share a common platform and the companies share some leadership, they actually look quite different from each other. The Optima is a recent redesign of the model that changed many people’s perception of the Kia brand in 2011. The majority of the body looks very similar, but the squinting, sleek front end has kept the Optima looking fresh and impressive.

The Sonata has been around a lot longer than the Optima, and this model was redesigned a couple of years ago. The look of the Sonata is now more sober, elegant, and statesmanlike than its predecessor, but the Kia’s more sporty stance is much more appealing.

Power & Performance

You have three engines to choose from in the 2017 Optima, all of which are four-cylinder units. The standard engine is a very good 185 horsepower 2.4-liter, a 1.6 turbo takes care of frugality, and the most fun comes from the 2.0-liter turbo-four with its impressive 245 horsepower. Fuel economy varies between the engines, with best numbers coming from the 1.6L engine–a combined 31 mpg average.

These two share more than just a common platform–they also share the same three engines. The Sonata gets the same numbers for fuel economy, with an average of 31 mpg.


Kia as a brand appears to moving in a more upscale direction these days, and it’s taking the Optima with it. You’ll find styling and quality elements borrowed from the Cadenza and the seriously opulent K900. Even entry level LX models are very impressive, especially for the price.

Technically speaking, the Sonata is a large sedan even though it’s marketed by Hyundai as a midsize. Despite this, we’re not seeing the interior space numbers that would warrant the Sonata being classified as a bigger model. Plenty of storage features and lots of sound-deadening gives the Hyundai a prestige feel, but this round goes to the Kia.

Features & Equipment

Kia offers five different Optima trim levels. The base model LX comes with standard features that include a rearview camera, satellite radio, a six-way power driver’s seat, a height-adjustable passenger’s seat, keyless entry, Bluetooth, cruise control, and alloy wheels. Beyond that base model, the features just gets better and better.

The Sonata comes in Sonata, SE, Eco, Sport and Limited trim levels, but it then splits them further with 2.0T versions of the Sport and Limited and Hybrid SE and Limited variants. Base models offer a similar specification to the Kia, but as they and higher trims cost a little less than the equivalent Optima, we’ll have to give this round to the Sonata.

Learn More about the Kia Optima

Both the Sonata and the Optima are outstanding midsize sedans, and nobody would be disappointed owning either. As they share a platform and their engines, it’s obviously hard to separate them. However, it’s impossible to deny how attractive the 2017 Kia Optima is both on the inside and the outside. The impressive design of the Optima gives it the edge here.