2018 Kia Optima vs Honda Civic

2018 Kia Optima vs Honda Civic

2018 Kia Optima vs Honda Civic

In 2011, the Optima transformed Kia from its humble roots as a manufacturer of cheap and cheerful vehicles to the big player it is today. So, let’s see how the 2018 Kia Optima is shaping up today by comparing it with the smaller and less expensive Honda Civic.


Honda might once have been regarded as a more desirable brand than Kia, but not anymore. These two Asian manufacturers are now competing on a fairly level playing field, although Kia’s superb warranty possibly gives it a slight edge. The recently redesigned Civic is a big improvement on its predecessor and is now much sportier and more desirable than it was, but there’s a more grown-up and serious air about the Optima. If you want something sporty but not especially uncommon, the Civic is a desirable little car. But the Kia is a more substantial.

Models and versatility

We have to hand it to Honda here as it really is making the most out of the Civic these days, as well as exploiting the nameplate for all its worth. Honda is giving buyers a wide range of different versions to choose from. The Honda now comes in sedan, coupe and hatchback versions, and that means there’s also the legendary Type R performance version here in America at last. Although they’re all very well equipped as standard, there’s just one body style of Kia Optima and a handful of trim levels to choose between.

Engines and Performance

If the standard engines were evenly matched here it could be a problem for the bigger, heavier midsize Optima, but they’re not. The Kia’s standard powerplant is a 185 horsepower 2.4-liter inline-four, while the standard offering in the Civic is a 2.0-liter inline-four delivering just 158 horsepower. The Honda also offers an optional 1.5-liter turbo-four for the first time in the nameplate’s history, but its 174 horsepower falls short of what’s produced by the optional 1.6 and 2.0-liter units available for the Kia.


As we’d expect, there’s more passenger volume in the midsize Optima than there is in the compact Civic, but the difference perhaps isn’t as great as many would imagine. The overall passenger volume in the Optima is 104.8 cubic feet and in the Civic it’s 97.8 cubic feet. However, while there’s a lot more legroom in the front of the Optima, the Civic actually has more rear legroom. As far as the style and quality of the cabin is concerned, both of these models have improved in recent years. The quality and fit of the interior is excellent inside both cars, but the Optima interior is definitely better, especially at the entry level. There’s very little in it as far as usable space is concerned, but the Kia takes the honors for a cabin that definitely punches above its weight.