2017 Kia Optima vs Nissan Maxima

It's not often you can take credit for transforming an entire auto brand with one model, but that's pretty much what happened with Kia and the Optima midsize sedan. The 2011 Optima completely redefined the way we see the South Korean automaker, and every model that's been introduced since has only cemented the brand's standing as a serious global player. How does the current 2017 Kia Optima stand up against a longstanding contender in the segment, the Nissan Maxima?

2017 Kia Optima vs Nissan Maxima


The 2017 model is the next generation from that ground-breaking 2011 model. The front fascia is now quite different with a more contemporary look, but the rest of the exterior is remarkably similar to that 2011 model. That's a very good thing, maybe even expected since you don't fix something that's quite obviously not broken.

Most people are familiar with the Maxima name, but it's been around for quite a while and many people may not realize how far its come. The latest Maxima is a muscular, purposeful design that looks a little more compact than it actually is but it can't really compare to the elegance of the Optima.


The more upmarket Cadenza and the positively opulent K900 appear to have had quite an effect on the interior of the latest Optima. It's not quite full-blown luxury, but it's not far off, especially at higher trim levels. Everything about the styling, fit, finish, and materials is on point, so it's hard to find anything to criticize about the Optima's beautifully quiet cabin.

You won't find anywhere near as much room for passengers inside the Nissan as there is inside the Kia, and it's a similar story for cargo room as well. The Maxima is marketed as a more upscale model than the slightly smaller Altima, and it is more upscale, but so is the price.

Engines and Performance

The only real criticism of the Optima's three engine options is that they're possibly not as diverse as they might be. All are four-cylinder units, with EX and LX models getting a 2.4-liter with 185 horsepower, and the SXL and SX models coming with a 2.0-liter powerplant offering 245 horsepower. The newest option is a 178 horsepower 1.6T, which also comes mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission instead of the usual six-speed auto for better fuel economy.

You don't get engine options with the Nissan Maxima as all versions come with the same unit. That's not a problem for most of us, though, as the engine in question is a 3.5-liter V-6 that puts an impressive 300 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque under the driver's foot. As long a fuel-economy isn't a deciding factor for you, this round goes firmly to the Nissan.

Fuel Economy

The EPA rates the most popular engine for the Optima, the 2.4, at 24 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined. The 1.6 with the dual-clutch transmission is the fuel economy champion of the range though, which gets an impressive 28 mpg in the city, 39 mpg on the highway and 32 mpg combined.

You might be surprised at how efficient the Maxima's V-6 is despite all that available power. The EPA rates the 3.5 as good as 21 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg combined, although that's obviously nowhere near as good as the Kia so another round goes to the impressive Optima.

Learn More about the Kia Optima

The Nissan Maxima will give you greater power and performance, but the 2017 Kia Optima has it beat in just about every other way. If they were priced similarly it would be tempting for some to go with the extra exhilaration offered by the Nissan, but they're not even close. An entry level Optima costs more than $10,000 less than the most affordable Maxima, which solidifies our belief that the Optima is the better option.

Current Inventory

There are currently no 2018 Kia Optima EX 4dr Sedan for Sale in inventory


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