Numbers and Non-Numbers - 2011 Kia Optima and 2012 Volvo S60 Long-Term Road Test

2011 Kia Optima Long-Term Road Test

2011 Kia Optima and 2012 Volvo S60: Numbers and Non-Numbers

February 06, 2012


I was at a Super Bowl party this weekend. Between mouthfuls of corn chips and guacamole, a fellow attendee who knows what I do for a living asked me what I was driving. I told him an S60. He asked how it was. I replied that it's a nice sedan -- drives well, pretty comfortable, has a lot of features. "How much?" he asked. "Well, our car is loaded up. But mid 30s would be more typical," I said.

He nodded his head. Then he asked: "So why would somebody get an S60 when they could just get a loaded Optima instead?"

Super Bowl advertising influence, perhaps? But it's a good question.

Here's a quick chart of a 2012 Optima EX Turbo and a 2012 Volvo S60 T5.


(*For the test numbers, I used our 2011 Optima. I priced a 2012 EX Turbo as that seemed the most comparable.)

If you go by the numbers, there's not much of a difference here. As for features, they're fairly comparable as well, with items such as an eight-way power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a USB/iPod interface and Bluetooth as standard. With the Optima, you also get leather upholstery and keyless ignition/entry, though on the Volvo you get the City Safety feature.

You could also go back and forth about additional features or total cost, but I think it's fair to say you get a pretty similar car in terms of features and performance with the Kia, but at a considerably lower price. On that alone, Kia deserves a lot of credit with what it's done for the new Optima. What you don't get with the Optima are things not easily shown on a spec sheet. The Volvo shows it up with its higher interior quality, a more refined ride quality, more communicative steering, and, as a more subjective matter, image.

I like both cars, so credit to anybody who buys either one. If I had to choose between the two for myself, though, I'd get an Optima.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor, in the Volvo S60 T5 @ 12,702 miles

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