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2019 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2019 Kia Optima: Which Is Better?

  • The Kia Optima is updated for 2019

  • The Hyundai Sonata was updated for 2018

  • Both vehicles share a common platform and engine options.

Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2019 Hyundai Sonata review, and the 2019 Kia Optima review.

The 2019 Hyundai Sonata and the Kia Optima are two popular midsize sedans. Both are built on the same platform and use the same range of powertrains. That said, a few things set them apart. Below we’ll compare the two head to head to identify the major differences.

2019 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2019 Kia Optima basic specs

Basic Specs

The Kia Optima and the Hyundai Sonata have always been related, and they tend to follow a similar update schedule. The current generation Sonata was introduced for the 2015 model year and received a midcycle update for 2018. Prices start at $22,300 and approach $34,000 for a fully loaded 2.0T model. The Optima was released in its current form in 2016 and gets a mild update for 2019. The 2019 Optima starts at $22,900 and exceeds $37,000 in Optima SX Limited form. See the 2019 Hyundai Sonata models for sale near you

Both vehicles share the same powertrains, but oddly, don’t necessarily earn the same fuel economy figures. Base models employ a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine putting out 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. The Optima earns 27 miles per gallon in combined driving from this engine, while the Sonata earns 28 or 29 mpg combined, depending on trim level. The midlevel engine is a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that puts out 178 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque and earns better fuel economy than the entry level naturally aspirated mill. In either the Optima or Sonata, this engine earns 31 mpg combined. At the top of the lineup is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 245 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. With the 2.0 turbo, the Sonata earns 26 mpg combined, while the Optima earns 24 mpg combined. Traditional automatic transmissions are offered with the lower spec engines, while the 2.0-liter turbo comes with a clever 7-speed dual clutch automatic.

The Sonata and the Optima both offer a hybrid variant as well. The hybrid makes 209 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The Optima Hybrid earns 41 mpg combined, while the 2019 Sonata Hybrid earns 41 or 42 mpg combined, depending on trim level. See the 2019 Kia Optima models for sale near you

2019 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2019 Kia Optima dimensions

Dimensions

The Sonata and the Optima have almost identical interior and exterior dimensions.

The Sonata is 191.1 inches long, 73.4 inches wide and 58.1 inches tall, while the Optima is 191.1 inches long, 73.2 inches wide and 57.7 inches tall.

Inside is more of the same. Up front, the Sonata offers 40.4 inches of headroom and 45.5 inches of legroom, while the Optima offers 39.8 inches of front seat headroom and 45.5 inches of legroom. The Sonata has 38.0 inches of headroom and 35.6 inches of legroom in its back seat, while the Optima offers 37.8 and 35.6 inches, respectively.

2019 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2019 Kia Optima exterior

Exterior Design

Exterior design is one area where the Sonata and the Optima are heavily differentiated. While both are attractive, the Sonata employs more conservative lines, while the Optima appears sportier and more upscale. The Sonata employs a trapezoidal shaped grille and teardrop shaped headlights. As with the generation before it, a chrome strip runs from the Sonata’s headlight along the fender and beltline before coming to an end at the base of the C-pillar. The Sonata’s rear is equally as attractive as the front, with broad tail lights and a slab-like trunk lid.

Designed by the famed Peter Schreyer, who is responsible for some beloved Audi designs, the Optima has a much sportier demeanor, and if you didn’t know any better you just may mistake it for a luxury vehicle. The Optima wears a modern interpretation of Kia’s "tiger nose" grille, which stretches across the front of the vehicle into the headlights, which are also wide, serving to give the vehicle a wider appearance than the Sonata, despite the fact that they are effectively the same width. A vent-like trim piece adorns the Optima’s front fender, while a chrome strip bisects the C-pillar, serving to give the roof a "floating" appearance. The Optima’s rear window extends into the C-pillars as well, another unique design element. Around back, the Optima is pretty basic and conservative.

Both vehicles can also be had with a black roof, which looks great on either one.

2019 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2019 Kia Optima interior

Interior Design

The interiors of the Sonata and the Optima match the exterior with regard to design language. While they both use a similar layout, the Optima’s dashboard features a lot of 90 degree angles, while the Sonata’s is softened a bit, for a slightly tamer, less aggressive look. The Optima SX can be had with red leather interior accents, while opting for the Limited package introduces unique quilted brown leather seats. The Sonata offers only basic beige, black or gray interior options.

The two vehicles share some common switchgear and other controls, but overall, things are differentiated quite well. Both also offer a standard center-mounted infotainment screen.

As is the case with their exteriors, the Optima looks and feels slightly more special on the inside than the more value-oriented Sonata.

2019 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2019 Kia Optima tech

Technology, Features & Infotainment

Both the 2019 Hyundai Sonata and the Kia Optima offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard. Lower end Sonatas get a 7-in touchscreen, while 2.0T models come with a nicer 8-in screen. The Optima comes standard with an 8-in screen. The Sonata’s optional premium audio system is Infinity-branded, while the Optima uses a Harmon Kardon system. The Sonata offers three 12 volt outlets and only one USB port, while the Optima has three 12 volt outlets and three USB ports.

2019 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2019 Kia Optima safety

Safety

Both the 2019 Sonata and the Optima are exceptionally safe, earning Top Safety Pick+ designations from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for their near flawless crash test performance.

The Sonata comes standard with blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, while adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, front automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and rear parking sensors are all available.

The Optima takes all of the Sonata’s available active safety features and offers them as standard, making for an excellent value.

Reliability

Hyundai and Kia both offer above average reliability, backed up by the nation’s best warranty. All Hyundai and Kia products come with a 5-year/60,000-mile limited and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Autotrader’s Advice

When it comes down to it, the Hyundai Sonata and the Kia Optima are very, very similar. So similar in fact, that if you’re cross shopping the two, it would be wise to bring a few additional models into the fold just to see what else is out there. The Sonata and the Optima are really only differentiated by styling, although the Optima trades off some of the Sonata’s efficiency for a sportier demeanor. Additionally, the two vehicles offer slightly different packaging, with the Optima offering more in many cases, including its standard suite of active safety tech and standard 8-in infotainment screen, along with higher end options, like a quilted leather interior. Either of these vehicles is a fine choice, especially given Hyundai’s and Kia’s excellent warranty. The Sonata is the more economical option, while the Optima offers slightly more luxury, but still at a great value. Find a Hyundai Sonata for sale or Find a Kia Optima for sale

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