2012 Kia Optima vs. 2012 Nissan Altima: Which One Should I Buy?

Mid-size sedans can be pretty basic, with four doors and simple and straightforward options, decent but not stellar gas mileage, and an uninspired interior. They can also have great design and fight off boredom through sporty suspension and exciting technology toys. The Kia Optima and the Nissan Altima fall somewhere in the middle of the options.

The Kia Optima evades design and driving boredom with good performance, great gas mileage, suave looks and features and while the Nissan Altima isn’t the roomiest of the mid-size sedans, it is one of the best-looking and sportiest mid-sizer.

nissan altima 2012
2012 Nissan Altima

Exterior Design

The Kia has a more chiseled exterior that has a handsome, aerodynamic shape that adds to the engaging handling. The refined, sporty-looking interior adds to the overall appeal of the Optima. For less than $1,000 more, the Nissan Altima brings in a simple, comfortable interior as well as highly responsive handling.

Interior Features

The Nissan Altima has a back seat that can seem very tight and some of the interior materials look a little drab. The Optima proves that good looks do not necessarily equate to comfort: the cushions are short and have very flat bottoms and are not very comfortable at all.

Fuel Economy

The two sedans are quite similar in regards to miles per gallon, with the Kia getting slightly better highway fuel economy at 35 mpg, but the Altima comes in with a very respectable 32 mpg highway and 23 mpg city. The Altima does have a more than generous 20.0 gallon fuel tank versus the Optima’s 18.5 tank.

Safety Testing

While the Nissan Altima loses stars on several different crash test ratings, the Optima only loses in two areas: combined side rating for the front seat and the side barrier rating for the driver – both of which drop down to a pitiful 3 stars. It’s hard to determine which affects the safety of the vehicles more, but the Altima does have a lower (4-star) rating for rollovers; a large concern of many vehicle owners.

When it gets down to comparing these two vehicles, you may need to look at the basic warranty as well as all the different features in order to make a full determination on which one to purchase. The Kia’s warranty is excellent with 60 months/60,000 miles versus the Altima’s industry-standard 36 months/36,000 miles.


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Attila

19 years of experience
906 reviews
Attila
19 years of experience
Cadillac SRX V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Edison, New Jersey
Attila was great! Very knowledgeable and actually detected a fault during a pre-purchase inspection that would have cost me later.
Lexus ES350 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Fords, New Jersey
He is very good—offered all the significant details we needed from the inspection. Helped us figure out what needed to be fixed.

Shawn

12 years of experience
285 reviews
Shawn
12 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Shawn was prompt, professional, and delivered the promised service as expected. This was a used vehicle pre-purchase inspection. Shawn also had to drive to multiple locations to perform the inspection, as the address listed that I provided him with was not accurate, but he still made it to the correct location within his time window and completed the inspection.
Toyota Sequoia - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Akron, Pennsylvania
Shawn was very prompt in communicating with me and was good at helping me decide whether to purchase a used car. He help me avoid a car with a repaired rusted frame that could be a danger to my family's safety since we were planning on using the car to tow a travel trailer!

Luis

18 years of experience
320 reviews
Luis
18 years of experience
Honda HR-V L4-1.8L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Warren, New Jersey
Luis was great. He showed up on time, acted professionally, and gave me confidence with a pre-purchase car inspection.
Acura RDX - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - South Hackensack, New Jersey
Luis did a thorough pre-purchase inspection for me, and found several major issues that made me pass on buying the car. Had I purchased the car, I almost certainly would have ended up paying thousands in repairs down the road. Thanks Luis!

Robert

20 years of experience
1089 reviews
Robert
20 years of experience
Hyundai Elantra L4-2.0L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Englewood, Colorado
He did a pre-purchase inspection for me. He was knowledgeable and fast, and knew what he was looking for. I really appreciate all the pictures and documentation he took of the state of the car before purchase. He noted potential issues with the car that I wouldn't have been able to notice. Would recommend.
GMC Savana 1500 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Golden, Colorado
I trust Robert. He gave me a list and we will take care of it the week of June 29. I will know then that my vehicle is ready for the winter and is safe to drive. I look forward to getting things ready for another winter of careful driving.

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