In the already bustling market with the American, European and Japanese manufacturers battling it out, there are two more credible contenders from names that probably wouldn’t make it to your radar a few years ago – Nissan and Kia. While Nissan as a brand are definitely more established with their Japanese reliability and smooth engines taking honors at a world stage, Kia come from South Korea, where the only big name that has made a difference has been Hyundai. Kia too was part of the Hyundai bandwagon, until recently and now they have a slew of models that break their conventionally conservative design language. So what does that mean for this comparison? Enter the Nissan Altima and the Kia Optima.
On the outside, the Nissan looks just that, typically Nissan. With a pleasant chrome grille, sweeping lines and an attractive tail lamp cluster, the Altima looks like a docile, reliable family saloon with a sloping roof, plush interiors and good dimensions. Now the Optima definitely looks the more aggressive of the two, with it’s chrome lining on the grille indented at the center making it look like an aircraft of sorts, together with the black honeycomb layout with those HID headlamps portraying a menacing character. It also has a high shoulder line that runs into a fantastic looking tail lamp cluster. So while the Altima has more curves, the Optima with its sharper lines make it look well put together overall.
The inside of both cars look inviting enough, but it’s the Optima with its center console aimed at the driver that excites you more. Of course, the center console in the Altima isn’t any less functional, but its layout is more pleasing than exciting. Of course, both designs will appeal to their audiences differently. A calm driver who prefers to commute in a reliable Japanese car will definitely pick the Altima for its smile and soft interiors with a wooden finish, rather than the Optima with its grin and black interiors with more than a sporty touch. Equipment levels of both cars are on par, with chunky 4-spoke steering wheels with buttons for the audio system and cruise control. Both have dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth connectivity, although Nissan also offers streaming audio. Seating is comfortable too, but the Optima offers an 8-way power adjustable driver seat on all except the base trim, while the Altima has a 6-way power adjustable driver seat, with only the V6 variant getting an 8-way adjustable seat. Overall layout again depends on your reason for looking at these cars – with the Kia being the sportier offering.
Surprisingly or not, it’s the Kia that has the longer list of safety equipment. Both cars feature dual front and side airbags with curtain airbags for the rear, pretensioner equipped front seatbelts, child seat latches, electronic stability control and traction control, all four disc brakes with ABS with EBD and tire pressure monitors. Nissan has their Advanced Airbag System as standard, and Vehicle Dynamic Control – which is again a form of stability control. Kia on the other hand have two more features standard on the Optima – Hill start assist, which doesn’t let the car move backwards while starting up slope, and Brake assist which employs hydraulic support when braking to optimize brake pressure and shorten braking distance.
This is quite the interesting bit as both cars have two engine options to choose from. Nissan offers a choice of either a 4 or 6 cylinder motor. The 2.5L inline 4 makes 175 hp @ 5600 rpm and 180 lb-ft of torque at a low 3900 rpm, and is available on four trim levels – base, S, S 20th anniversary and SL. It returns an EPA fuel economy of 23/32 mpg city/highway. The second option, the super smooth 3.5L V6 makes a daunting 270 hp @ 6000 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm on their top of the line SR trim, returning 20/27 mpg city/highway. All trims are equipped with the Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission with manual mode and front wheel drive.
Kia on the other hand offers the Optima with a choice of two 4-cylinder motors, one of them being turbocharged. There’s a 2.4L direct injection inline-4 making 200 hp @ 6300 rpm and 186 lb-ft of torque at 4250 rpm on the base LX A/T and EX trims, which returns 24/35 mpg city/highway. Option two is a 2.0L turbocharged direct injection inline 4 with all of 274 hp coming in at 6000 rpm and a considerable 269 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm, and is available on the EX Turbo and SX trims, and delivers a rather good 22/34 mpg city/highway. A 6-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission driving the front wheels is standard for all trims.
The Altima starts at $20,410 for the base 2.5 model, going up to $25,430 and up for the 3.5L SR trim. The Optima starts at $21,000 for the LX A/T, going up to $26,500 and up for the SX trim.
Nissan offers the Altima with a 3 year / 36,000 mile vehicle coverage and 5 year / 60,000 mile powertrain coverage, with an optional Security+ cover. Kia, on the other hand offer the Optima with a 5 year / 60,000 mile basic warranty and a 10 year / 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, 5 year / 100,000 mile anti-perforation warranty and an optional roadside assistance cover.
So what does that mean for this comparison? Enter the Nissan #Altima and the Kia #Optima. Read more: rdsf.ly/Optima-VS-Altima
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