2017 Kia Optima vs Nissan Altima

August 28th, 2017 by
2017 Kia Optima vs Toyota Camry

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Since 2011, the Kia Optima has been widely regarded as one of the very best mass-market midsize sedan models, but there are plenty of other contenders also well worth considering. So, let’s see how the excellent 2017 Kia Optima compares in a head-to-head with a major rival: the Nissan Altima.

2017 Kia Optima vs Nissan Altima

Styling

The Optima was redesigned quite recently, although casual observers would probably have a tough time telling the difference between the 2017 Optima and the previous version unless they were sitting next to each other. Kia chose to stay pretty true to the look of the previous Optima with the new one. That was a good move, because the Optima was already one of the most attractive models in its class, and they’ve kept the distinctly sport sedan style.

Nissan updated the Altima’s styling last year, and brought it in line with the current Nissan signature look ( which you can also see on the Maxima and Murano). The front and rear fascias have seen the biggest changes, as the sheet metal remains exactly the same. The Altima is a handsome but understated design, but it’s definitely not a match for the Optima in the style department. This round goes to the Kia.

Interior

The Optima benefits from a trickle-down effect on its interior, mainly from the near-luxury Cadenza and seriously opulent K900 sedans. Their interior influences are apparent throughout the cabin of the Optima. The interior is now even more refined, stylish, well put together, and nearly silent most of the time. The build and material quality is excellent, even in base models.

You’ll notice a big difference between the quality in entry level Altimas and higher trim levels, especially in the interior. The Nissan has a good amount of room inside, but entry level models seem a little plain with materials that leave something to be desired. The highest trim level is very nice, though, possibly encroaching on Infiniti levels of comfort and quality for a lot less money. Since most buyers don’t want to have to opt into higher trims immediately, the entry-level deficiencies leave Nissan behind the Kia in this area.

Performance

Buyers get three engines to choose from in the 2017 Kia Optima, although all three offer a middle ground approach to performance. The base engine is a naturally aspirated 2.4, and the other two options are turbocharged units of 1.6 and 2.0-liter displacements. SXL and SX variants are the most fun to drive with the impressive 245 horsepower delivered by the 2.0-liter turbo, but even the non-turbo 2.4 is a good performer with a useful 185 horsepower.

The Altima used to be pretty sporty, but the midsize sedan now has a more plush and refined character. The engine in most Altimas will be the 2.5-liter four-cylinder (very similar to the base engine in the Kia), and its 182 horsepower is more than adequate for most buyers. You can choose a V-6 though, a powerful option that’s also perhaps not the most refined, and the CVT transmission found in all versions of the Altima doesn’t help it either. The base engines would make this a draw, but the Nissan offering a V-6 of any sort give it the nod here.

Features and Equipment

The Kia Optima offers buyers six trim levels, and all models come well equipped as standard. Even the base LX model gets a rearview camera, satellite radio, keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, alloy wheels and more. The top-of-the-line SXL does have a pretty high price tag, but it’s better equipped than a lot of genuine luxury models making it an outstanding value for money.

The lowest trim of the Altima is really a fleet model, so retail buyers will be looking at the Nissan from the S model upwards. The Altima S comes standard with Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, a 5.0-inch LCD screen for the audio, a rearview camera and a proximity key. However, having the same steel wheels and hubcaps that the base model comes with doesn’t help the Altima’s case here. In standard features and equipment, the Optima clearly wins.

Learn More about the Kia Optima

2017 Kia Optima vs Toyota Camry

Entry level models of the 2017 Kia Optima and the Nissan Altima have just a $3 price difference between them, but the gulf in class and value is a whole lot bigger. At the entry level there’s really no comparison in what you get for your money, and that’s because the Kia looks anything but entry level. At completely the other end of the spectrum, a top-of-the-line Optima will cost more than the equivalent Altima, but we have to say that it’s worth every single cent.

Posted in Comparison