2017 Kia Optima vs Mazda 6

2017 Kia Optima vs Mazda 6

A number of well-known midsize sedans sell in bigger numbers than the 2018 Kia Optima and the Mazda 6, but it's hard to think of any that are better or more highly regarded than these two. It's probably only longstanding familiarity and brand loyalty keeps buyers from turning their attention to the Kia or the Mazda, so let's see how these two compare to each other in a head-to-head.

2017 Kia Optima vs Mazda 6


The first thing most admirers will name as the 2018 Kia Optima's standout attribute is the way it looks. The jury's probably still out as to whether the redesigned front is more attractive than the previous look we were first treated to in 2011, but there's no disputing the fact this is still a stunningly attractive design. Its coupe-like design gives a sporty edge, and the entire package looks and feels refined and luxurious.

The Mazda 6 hasn't changed a great deal since this generation was launched back in 2013, but why would Mazda want to change what's obviously a winning formula? The look is sleek, svelte, sporty and muscular, all in a tastefully subtle way. Choosing which is better looking here is like judging a cutest puppy contest, but the Mazda just has the edge for us.


Whether you're doing thousands of miles a month on the freeway or simply running the children to and from school and sports practice, vehicle safety credentials matter. And as far as the 2018 Kia Optima is concerned, those credentials couldn't be any stronger as it aces every test the NHTSA and IIHS have and gains the highest possible ratings from both agencies in the process.

It's not as if the Mazda 6 isn't one of the safest cars in its class as well though, as both agencies also give their highest overall ratings to the Mazda. However, as the Mazda 6 only gets four out of five stars from the feds for its rollover test, we have to give this round to the Optima.

Features and Equipment

The Kia can be as relatively basic or opulent as you want to budget for, but there's literally no such thing as a poorly equipped Optima. Standard equipment in all models includes: keyless ignition, Bluetooth connectivity, power-adjustable front seats, a rearview camera, 16-inch alloy wheels, an infotainment system with a 7.0-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Although there's little opportunity for customizing a Mazda 6 because features are largely trim-specific, the three trim levels are admirably different from each other. Even base models include 17-inch alloy wheels, a high-resolution 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, HD radio, keyless ignition, LED taillights, Bluetooth streaming audio, and a USB port. That's good, but the Kia definitely offers more for the money.


The Optima is no muscle car, but the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four offers plenty of fun with its 245 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The ride and handling have improved incrementally over time thanks to revised suspension components, and this year all trim levels adopt the latest steering system that has a sharper feel than the one used previously.

You're probably not going to be entering many drag races in a Mazda 6 either, but what it lacks in outright power and speed it more than makes up for with wonderful handling. There's only one engine, though, which is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder offering 184 horsepower. Although it's not always how much power you have, but what you do with it, that's still a lot to give away to the Kia's 2.0T.

Learn More about the Kia Optima

2017 Kia Optima vs Mazda 6

The Optima and the 6 are both sensational cars--of that there's little dispute. Although the Mazda 6 could be seen by many as slightly more attractive, the Kia just edges out the Mazda in too many ways for us to do anything other than to make the 2018 Kia Optima our recommendation here.

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6,088 miles, Regular Unleaded I-4 2.4 L/144, MPG City: 25 MPG Hwy: 36***, 4DR, Sangria Exterior, Beige Interior, 6-Speed Automatic w/OD
Stock #K200780A
Exterior ColorSangria
Interior ColorBeige
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