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2018 Kia Optima vs Toyota Camry

2018 Kia Optima vs Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry has been one of the biggest selling midsize sedans in America for decades, with no sign of it dropping out of the picture anytime soon. As well as other enduring nameplates we're used to seeing at the top of the sales charts, some new options that weren't even contenders are now snapping at Toyota's heels. One of them is the Kia Optima, so let's see how the 2018 Kia Optima shapes up against the redesigned Toyota Camry.

2018 Kia Optima vs Toyota Camry

Styling

The Optima may be a relative newcomer as a major threat to the supremacy of the usual midsize sedan suspects, but it's now become firmly established as one of the best-looking cars in its class. A modest redesign a couple of years ago didn't do anything to hurt its allure, and its coupe-like lines are still very much admired far and wide.

We now have a new shape for the Camry, courtesy of the 2018 redesign, which is definitely more interesting than just about any of its predecessors. However, the front end with that awkwardly shaped bumper and wide-mouth grille can look a little odd. The Camry is not unattractive, but it's also not a look you instantly take to. But against the stunning Optima, the Camry is never going to win in the style stakes.

Performance

All three engines in the Optima are four-cylinder units. Two of them are turbocharged while the base engine is a naturally aspirated 2.4 with 185 horsepower. The first turbo is an eco-focused 1.6 with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the real fun comes from the 2.0-liter turbo and its 245 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque.

The Camry is now becoming something of a rarity as it still offers a V-6 engine option in higher trim levels. The 3.5-liter V-6 comes mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission and produces 301 horsepower, while the standard 2.5-liter inline-four is rated at 203 horsepower. The extra power of the V-6 is welcome, but the presence of the Kia's more modern 2.0T is likely more interesting to buyers.

Interior Space

You'll find a good amount of passenger room inside the Kia Optima, with a total passenger volume of 104.8 cu.-ft.. That translates into almost 40 inches of front head room and 45.5 inches of front leg room. There's also 15.9 cu.-ft. of trunk volume, although the attractive sloping roof does limit passenger room in the back seats to 35.6 inches of legroom and 37.8 inches of headroom. The quality of trim and materials is excellent though, bordering on genuine luxury.

In the Camry, you will find slightly more leg room for passengers in the rear seats, but front seat passengers won't find the available space as generous as in the Kia. The Toyota can't match the Optima for trunk volume either. The quality of the fit, finish, and materials inside the Camry is on par with the Optima, but with more style and more room the Kia takes the honors.

Fuel Economy

Without choosing the hybrid Optima, the best fuel economy ratings you can get with the 2018 Kia Optima are 28 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway and 31 mpg combined from the 1.6-liter turbo-four equipped models.

Perhaps a little surprisingly, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder in the Toyota Camry is noticeably more fuel efficient with EPA ratings as good as 29 mpg in the city, 41 mpg on the highway and 34 mpg combined. Obviously this is a victory for the Toyota.

Learn More about the Kia Optima

2018 Kia Optima vs Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry has definitely upped its game for the 2018 model year, and it comes close to rivaling the 2018 Kia Optima. However, the somewhat awkward new front fascia of the Camry is no match for the overall beauty of the Optima, and the $1,500 less it costs than the Toyota means the Kia is our overall winner.