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Nissan Altima vs Kia Optima

Nissan Altima vs Kia Optima

Camry tops the mid-sized sedan segment. Stuart Martin rates the other pair on the podium.

value

Nissan Altima ST-L and Ti

from $35,990

The mid-spec ST-L sits on 17-inch alloys, the Ti 18s (full-size spares). There are satnav, nine-speaker Bose sound, cruise control, Bluetooth and USB connections, dual-zone climate control with rear vents, keyless entry and start, power-adjustable front seats and three-year/100,000km warranty. Resale value: 36 per cent.

Kia Optima SLi and Platinum

from $35,990

Both models get 18-inch alloys and full-size spares, adding leather, power-adjustable driver's seat (with two-position memory), cruise control, trip computer, dual-zone climate control with rear vents, six-speaker Infinity sound, and, in Platinum, heated and cooled front seats. Warranty is five years/unlimited km, retained value 45 per cent.

technology

Nissan Altima ST-L and Ti

The US-built Altima runs a 2.5-litre four-cylinder (127kW/230Nm) but constantly variable transmission compensates for the modest outputs. The CVT is better than many and includes an aggressive Sport mode - there's no manual shift option.

Kia Optima SLi and Platinum

Six-speed auto and 2.4-litre four-cylinder (148kW/250Nm) top the list for the slightly heavier Optima. There are satnav with traffic info, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, auto headlights, LED front and rear lights and keyless entry and ignition. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning are standard on the Platinum.

design

Nissan Altima ST-L and Ti

An improvement over some recent Nissan efforts. the Altima doesn't turn heads as quickly but it pays off elsewhere, with plenty of space for the family and gear - the boot space is not quite as voluminous as the Optima but it's deeper and easily accessible.

Kia Optima SLi and Platinum

Kia's design crew is on the right track. A looker front or rear, it shows medium sedans need not be cardigan cars. Sharp lines, aggressive stance and trick lighting cloak a well-equipped cabin with comfortable seating, big boot and decent space.

safety

Nissan Altima ST-L and Ti

Five crash-test stars with the standard half-dozen airbags, plus rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights (xenon on the Ti), stability and traction control, auto-dim mirror (Ti only), rear camera (360-degree view on Ti). The upspec model also scopes front and rear when exiting a parking space.

Kia Optima SLi and Platinum

Five stars from NCAP and six airbags. Add auto-door locking, hill-start assistance, auto-dimming rear-vision mirror, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera. There are rain-sensing wipers on the Platinum.

driving

Nissan Altima ST-L and Ti

Ride comfort is king in the Altima, which is clearly aimed at those keener on cosseting than cornering. The steering is feather-light and anonymous but the drivetrain is smooth and frugal (claiming 7.5L/100km), if a little less enthusiastic than the Kia. Sport mode in the CVT helps the spirited driving cause a little.

Kia Optima SLi and Platinum

Local tuning of the suspension and steering is obvious but the firmer ride might not please all. Peppy engine claims 7.9L/100km and isn't a heavy drinker and the conventional six-speed auto (with paddleshifters) combines nicely. Steering is better-weighted, with more info for the driver than Altima.

Verdict

Nissan Altima ST-L and Ti

Kia Optima SLi and Platinum

The Altima turns heads in V8 Supercars but it's mid-pack on the road - roomy, comfortable and inoffensive, it will appeal to many. The Kia's ride quality is not necessarily a flaw, the drivetrain is enthusiastic and its road manners are better suited to a broader range of surfaces.