2016 Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima

2016 Hyundai Sonata Eco vs. Kia Optima LX 1.6T - Fuel Sipping Family Sedans Under $27k

You need a midsize sedan that does decently on fuel, but you don't want to put down a lot of cash for it. Lucky for you, Hyundai and Kia offer such a vehicle.

This comparison will take a look at the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Eco and Kia Optima LX 1.6T. Now we should mention that under the skin, both of these sedans have the same powertrain and achieve similar fuel economy numbers. Everything else about these two sedans are widely different.

Under the Hoods
The Sonata Eco and Optima LX 1.6T come equipped with a turbocharged 1.6L four-cylinder producing 178 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission gets that power to the road. Fuel economy wise, the Sonata Eco returns 28 City/38 Highway/32 Combined on the EPA test cycle. The Optima LX 1.6T returns 28 City/39 Highway/32 Combined. We're assuming the Optima's shape helps it get one more MPG than the Sonata.

Driving Them

We had the chance to sample both models and there is a clear difference in how they ride and handle. The Sonata is more the big sedan as the suspension smooths over bumps and sound isolation is towards the top of the class. The Optima is the complete opposite as it provides a sportier ride. The sedan doesn't show much body lean in corners and the steering provides some decent heft.

A Matter of Safety

Both the Sonata and Optima have a five-star overall rating from NHTSA and are a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It should be noted the Top Safety Pick+ are for models equipped with collision mitigation systems, something the Sonata Eco and Optima LX 1.6T don't offer. They have the Top Safety Pick award.

Both models do feature a long list of safety features such as a number of air bags, traction and stability control, tire pressure monitoring, and brake force distribution. But the Optima LX 1.6T jumps ahead of the Sonata Eco as it can come with blind spot warning, rear parking sensors, and rear cross traffic alert via an option package.

The Feature List

Both models come similarly equipped with cloth seats, power adjustments for the driver, trip computer, a touchscreen radio (the Sonata Eco has a seven-inch, Optima LX 1.6T only has a five-inch), push-button start, heated side-view mirrors, six-speaker audio system, aux and USB inputs, and Bluetooth. The Sonata Eco comes with Android Auto capability as standard, but you need to option it on the Optima LX 1.6T.

Speaking of options, the Optima LX 1.6T offers a Technology package. This adds an eight-inch touschscreen with navigation, Android Auto capability, UVO eServices, dual-zone climate control, a 12-way power driver's seat with memory, rear USB ports for charging devices, and an auto dimming rear-view mirrors. The package will also net you blind spot warning, rear parking sensors, and rear cross traffic alert. Those hoping to option a Sonata Eco will be disappointed as it doesn't offer any options.


A 2016 Hyundai Sonata Eco will set you back $23,725. The 2016 Optima LX 1.6T is slightly more with a base of $24,140. This one is too close to call.

Final Thoughts

Despite Hyundai and Kia being one company and sharing a number of components, the 2016 Sonata Eco and Optima LX 1.6T just shows how different they can be. The Sonata Eco provides a smooth and quiet ride, along with a nice set of standard equipment. The Optima LX 1.6T provides a provides a bit of sport for the commute and offers a nice option package that adds a lot of desirable equipment. Between the two sedans, we would go with the Optima as it offers just slightly more than the Sonata.

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