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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