2017 Kia Optima vs Toyota Camry
Choosing which new midsize sedan to buy can be a challenge, but only because so many great ones are on the market. The Kia Optima is one of the most highly regarded models in its class, the vehicle credited with changing the market's perception of the Kia brand as a whole. The Toyota Camry is the gold standard of the modern mid-size sedan, so how does the Optima compare to the Camry?
2017 Kia Optima vs Toyota Camry
The Kia Optima went through a complete redesign for the 2016 model year, but not much changed about its exterior style. Nobody can blame Kia for keeping the same basic look for the Optima, though, as it was already one of the best-looking cars in its class. Its swoopy, coupe-like roofline gives the Optima an element of sport sedan styling, and all around it's just a great-looking car.
The 2017 Toyota Camry isn't unattractive by any means, but the only element of its styling that could really be called interesting is the large front grille that actually hasn't been widely accepted. The Camry isn't youthful, and can't compare to the Optima's beautiful design.
Kia has gone out of its way to make the cabin of the Optima as quiet as reasonably possible, and it's managed to deliver an interior that's actually as quiet as some luxury sedans. The seats in the front and the back are very comfortable, with plenty of adjustment for both the driver and passenger in the front. Headroom is a little restricted in the back for taller passengers, but the Optima's large doors make getting in and out extremely easy and comfortable.
The interior of the Toyota Camry has an open and airy feel, and the lack of a sloping roofline means plenty of head room even for passengers taller than six feet in the back. Toyota significantly upgraded the interior in 2015 with more soft-touch materials, and it's now a very nice place to be, even for longer journeys.
These sedans are not sport sedans, but that's no excuse for lackluster performance. The Kia Optima offers something for everyone other than the most performance-orientated buyers. You can choose between three four-cylinder engines that are a mix of naturally aspirated and turbocharged. There's a 2.4-liter, a 1.6-liter turbo and a 2.0-liter turbo, and the 2.0T makes an impressive 245 horsepower.
Most Camrys have a 2.5-liter inline-four producing 178 horsepower, although there is also a 268 horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 available. The standard engine is capable rather than exhilarating, and although the V-6 is a big step up in terms of power and performance, it's also a big step up in price too. Even though it's not hugely more powerful than the Kia's 2.0-liter turbo-four, the presence of a V-6 in the Camry lineup gives it the slight edge here.
The most popular engine in the Optima is the 2.4, but it's the 1.6-liter turbo that gets the best EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings. With figures of 28 mpg in the city, 39 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg combined, you'll have to go for a hybrid to get a whole lot better from a midsize sedan.
The V-6 in the Camry doesn't destroy its efficiency credentials, but it's obviously eclipsed by the ratings of the 2.5-liter inline-four that gets you as good as 24 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg combined. Not terrible numbers, but a long way short of the Kia.
Learn More about the Kia Optima
It's hard to knock a car that sells in the numbers the Toyota Camry still manages, but it's not a car to get the pulse racing in any way. The Camry is fairly bland to look at, although a capable, reliable commuter with no hint of pretension. But the 2017 Kia Optima is stunningly stylish, has a wider choice of engines, rides and drives beautifully, and an outstanding value for money. The 2017 Kia Optima is therefore a better choice than the segment-leading Toyota Camry.