These two vehicles need little introduction: the former is Honda’s bread and butter model that has flown off dealership floors like hotcakes for decades, while the other was one of the first Kias to showcase the automaker’s game-changing signature Tiger Nose grille styling. But which one is better? It might come down to whether you prefer the option of a stick shift in the Civic over the conventional six-speed automatic or new seven-speed dual-clutch in the Optima, or any of a number of other factors between the two examples that Carvana has helped you break down in today’s article.
Believe it or not, the venerable Honda Civic just entered its 10th generation in 2016, and the modern version shows just how far it’s come since the first unit rolled off the assembly line in the 1970s. Originally sold as a hatchback only, customers can now choose between that as well as a coupe and sedan.
Perhaps the biggest item of discussion surrounding the latest gen is the arrival of Honda’s first application of turbocharging technology under the H badge. Two engines are offered, a naturally aspirated base 2.0-liter engine with 158 horsepower, and a boosted 1.5-liter engine making 174 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission is standard in either, although, as mentioned earlier, a six-speed stick manual gearbox may be swapped in on the lower tier trims.
A completely fresh design ethos has been applied to the contemporary Civic, and as is the case with most aesthetics, is subjective. While the chromed-out wing element on the front fascia, the sloping fastback side profile and one-piece LED taillights are all quite distinctive, some may prefer the understated styling of the outgoing product or even the arguably more elegant current Optima.
Similar to the subject above, the mid-size Kia Optima received a bumper-to-bumper overhaul two years ago. The European-styled sedan is longer and wider than its predecessor, and continues to be heavily influenced by company president and chief design officer Peter Schreyer, who also created the Audi TT in a previous life. The car’s face, highlighted by long headlights and an elongated central air intake, purposely bears a strong resemblance to the flagship K900.
The Optima is bundled with one of three four-cylinder motors, all possessing extra oomph compared to the Civic: a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter (185 horsepower), a turbo 2.0-liter (245 horsepower) and a new turbo 1.6-liter (178 horsepower). That said, fuel economy, at 30, 32 and 28 MPG respectively, is lower than the competitor’s 35 for both mills.
The Korean manufacturer continues to provide a lot of bang for buck in terms of features, such as using plentiful soft-touch materials in the cabin and making available creature comforts normally found in higher segments — for instance, heated and ventilated seating, stitched Nappa leather trim, Harmon Kardon audio and a radar cruise control system.
The long and short of it is, consumers can’t go wrong with either choice, and comes down to personal preference. The Civic wins on the efficiency side of things, balancing performance and fuel consumption, while the larger Kia opts for increased comfort and quicker get-up-and-go.