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2011 Kia Optima and 2011 Hyundai Sonata – Click above to enlarge

The Koreans are coming! Actually, strike that... they're already here. As a matter of fact, both the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and its corporate kissing cousin, the 2011 Kia Optima, rank very highly on our own midsize sedan pecking order chart. All of this begs the question: Which one is better, and why?

The boys from Inside Line decided to pit the two sedans, which share most major components and assemblies, against each other in a no-holds-barred fight for supremacy. Not surprisingly – both use 2.4-liter four cylinder engines (plus or minus California emissions...) and six-speed automatic transmissions, and both weight nearly the same – picking a winner means delving into the details.

And IL found that the details favored the Kia. There are a number of reasons given for the why and how of this conclusion, which you can read all about right here. Basically, though, IL found that the Optima is tuned more for the enthusiast as opposed to the competent and comfortable nature of the Sonata.

Which one would you pick? Take our poll below and then feel free to talk about your choice in Comments.

Given similar equipment levels, would you rather have the 2011 Hyundai Sonata or the 2011 Kia Optima?
2011 Hyundai Sonata 5071 (35.7%)
2011 Kia Optima 7361 (51.8%)
I'm not sure 1778 (12.5%)




Gallery photos copyright ©2010 AOL

[Source: Inside Line | Main Image: Kurt Niebuhr for Edmunds]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 76 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Totally senseless comparo. As IL states in the article, the devil lies in the details, and these days, there's a whole lot of details that can define a car's personality. That being accepted, why go on to compare two vehicles that are of different trim levels? All you're doing is knowingly comparing apples to oranges.
        • 4 Years Ago
        IL points out (and I completely agree with) that the "details" as they call them, have a huge impact on the car, and how it's perceived by the shopper, right? Therefore, comparing two cars from two different trim levels is (by their own admission) like comparing two different cars. If they wanted to do a "proper" comparo by their own standards, the cars should have been from comparable trim levels. Hell, if you simply compared a base and loaded version of the same exact model car, you will come away with vastly different opinions, this is just as I said, comparing apples to oranges.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ok, none of that comment just made sense. Apples to oranges? The cars are in the same category. They're both mid-size sedans.
      • 4 Years Ago
      On the exterior, I prefer the Kia. For interior, I choose the Hyundai.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would take neither. I don't think there really is a good looking family sedan these days, minus the Malibu.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Of course the Kia has worse mileage, is 200# heavier and a few bucks more expensive - it has more equipment, leather seats which are much heavier than cloth and a glass roof which is heavier than steel.

      Given that the two automobiles are so similar, I'm sure that the performance/mileage differences between a comparably equipped pair would have been negligable - All one really has to choose from differences in styling and handling.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like the styling of the Optima slightly better than that of the Sonata, but I like the interior design of the Sonata far more, so if given the choice between two cars that were equally matched in content and quality, the Sonata's interior would be the tiebreaker for me.

      However, given a choice between the two cars in the comparison, I'd have to go for the Optima thanks to its heated & cooled leather seats and that sweet, sweet panoramic moonroof.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can't get over how much the Kia Optima is trying to resemble the Lexus IS, just look at the C-pillar. Especially with that shade of blue.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "they look an awful lot alike" - InsideLine

      They do?
      I thought they looked completely different.... like amazingly different (inside and out) for being such similar under the skin.

      I personally think both are very nice cars, but the Optima seems to be aimed more as a "driver's car" which would get my vote.

      I do think that it was a semi unfair comparison though because even though they admitted that the Kia was much more heavily optioned and they tried to counter that by including its higher price, it is still hard to compensate for that disparity when you aren't paying for the car, yet still enjoying the feature when reviewing it.

      I do like the fact that ~40% of the Sonota comes from North America-sources parts though.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Hyundai is ugly and will only get uglier as the years pass. Awful and trendy. The Kia is the only choice here.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm going with the Kia. I saw both at a local auto show. Both attracting me in a very good way, the Optima is one great looking mid-size. The interior was very inviting in both, and seemed to outclass the Camry and Accord with both interior and exterior design (the Altima comes in at a very close 2nd to both Korean cars).

      If I were in the market for a mid-size sedan, the Optima, Sonata, and Altima would be on my list with the Optima at the top.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Altima. LOL. What is this, 2004?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Uh what? You lost me. The Nissan Altima is a direct competitor to these 2. So I don't get where you're coming from.
      • 4 Years Ago
      As someone who did look at the two at the LA auto show, I have to give a slight nod to Kia. It's more driver oriented and its exterior design is less polarizing and probably wouldn't look too out of place even 10 years from now.

      That's not to say the Hyundai is a bad choice either, as I applaud them for being assembled in the US. No, that's not going to make it an American car, but it does keep more Americans employed.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Kia is better looking.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like the Kia's styling better. The Hyndai looks like melted plastic, eheheheh.
        • 4 Years Ago
        base vs. mid level trim?
        leather vs. no leather?
        23k vs. 27k?

        I prefer Optima, but this wasn't a fair fight.



        • 4 Years Ago
        @ BuyUSA...uhm, cough cough...the Charger's built in Canada. Also not very American.


        I need to see the Kia in person. The Sonata has grown on me but the Kia doesn't look bad either. Some angles don't favour it though. Need that 1 on 1 time with it.

        Ok never mind, just took a look at IL's first photo shot (the article opener). Kia wins, hands down.


        • 4 Years Ago
        I paid less than either of these cost in bare-bones trim for a 2001 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 optioned to the hilt. That's something to think about.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Considering how CLOSED the Korean market is to imports (50:1 export:import ratio) and YOUR manufacturing jobs are going over there... and so is YOUR MONEY... why even consider these cars when the domestics offer as good if not better values!!!

        Ex: Ford Fusion - Motor Trend car of the year 2010...

        It's YOUR JOB and YOUR MONEY... where do you want it to go... in a FAIR TRADE world!!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        I know that most Asian fanboys -- *cough*autoblog*cough* -- have had the recent terrible Camry and Accord designs to go off, so I can see why they think the Koreans have done such a great job in the styling department, but honestly the Sonata is one of the ugliest designs around. The Sonata looks like a jelly bean that has had one side smashed in. And while the overly-aggresive styling works for the Forte, it seems to be a bit too much for the Optima.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Forgot to end the post.

        Put aside this (american made vs korean made car), this isn't the topic here plus it really doesn't matter where the car is made.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @skablaw

        996's getting cracked cylinder heads are something to think about as well
        • 4 Years Ago
        What I dont understand is Hyundai is supposed to be more upscale than KIA but you can get heating and cooling seats in the KIA but not the Hyundai... what gives?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Can't get a Sonata with a sunroof unless you pony up for Nav. Even though I prefer the look of the Hyundai over the Kia, I voted for the car I would actually buy. I want a sunroof, I don't want Nav. Kia wins.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @greg

        LOL buddy, your money goes to manufacturing jobs in mexico if you buy the fusion ...

        if you want a MORE american car buy the toyota camry !

        • 4 Years Ago
        If I were about to buy a sedan, I would much rather buy a 2011 Dodge Charger over either one of these.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ok, Fusion is made in Mexico. But Ford is American, so the money goes to the USA. Plus check how many people Ford employs in the USA vs how many people Hyundai/Kia employs.

        Ford reduces cost by taking production outside USA. Kia/Hyundai do the same by producing in SK with a low-paid workforce. It's the world of globalization, get over it.

        Another reason for Ford to produce in Mexico is that they can export the Fusion to Latin America at a lower price, like to Brazil. Mexico and Brazil have an agreement in which products made in both countries can enter the other country without import taxes. Fusion is the number one in sales in its category here in Brazil.

        Please, don't tag me as a redneck or something, I'm not even American or live in the USA. I'm just pointing something out.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Greg,

        Actually if you want to keep manufacturing jobs over here, it would be best to buy the Sonata. The Ford Fusion is built in Hermosillo,Mexico; while the Hyundai is built in Montgomery, Alabama with many of it's parts coming from other parts of the US.

        I find it funny how hypocritical some people are when it comes to "domestic" vs "foreign".

        My "American" car was designed and engineered in Germany and built in Belgium. I tend to buy cars based on how good they are, rather than the supposed nationality of their makers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Greg Aryous,
        LOL at your example of the Fusion. Yeah, go buy a Fusion to help manufacturing jobs in Mexico. That will show all those workers in Alabama building the Sonota a thing or two.
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