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Comparing new cars

Writing here due to more posters. Buying a new car. Tested sonata, Altima, mazda 6, camry, optima and accord. Ruled out all but the camry and optima. Going XLE etc to get the safety features. Wife wants optima by a slim margin as the camry dash is “boring”. I’m a Toyota person with 3 Camrys and one rav under my belt. Currently drive the 2015 rav. I can go either way but it will be easier for me to work on the camry (same engine as the rav) vs. the optima but she doesn’t care about that. The extended warranty comes with the optima. Is there any reason to avoid the optima?? I know the camry will go 200K free of most issues. No history or experience with the kia. Prices will be near the same so that’s not a factor. Will trade in a 2004 accord ex-l. Any comments will be appreciated. Ruled out the mazda due to tight seating/sporty although it’s a great looking and riding car, the accord due to dash/no blind spot on drives side, and rough road ride, the sonata was good but came in 3rd. the Altima is just too low end for us.

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I can only speak for myself but I don’t buy a new car with warranty and plan to work on it.

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the warranty isn’t void if you do your own work. just have to save the receipts. I’m doing all my own fluids on the rav. The optima comes with a 100K/10 yr whereas I had to pay 2K for my rav to get 100K/7 yr. The optima has a skirt to remove every time I change the oil etc. Boils down the wife likes the optima a little more but I’m worried about past 100K.

If your local library has Consumer Reports you can probably look up the maintenance issues that readers have reported for both.

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Both are regarded as good cars by CR. The Camry has higher predicted reliability.
I would go mostly by things like comfort, ride, handling, etc.

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Do you see that magnifying glass icon at the top right of this page? That’s the link to the forum search feature. Click on that and search “Optima”. Might bring up some maintenance and repair posts we got here about that car.

My understanding is that Consumer Reports rates new models of Kia quite good in general for reliability, but not sure what they say about the Optima specifically. CR doesn’t address how easy or not it is to work on it though. They do offer info on total cost of ownership I think, which is a related metric.

hmmm … to get an idea how one vs the other is to work on, I think what I’d do is use a computer data base service like AllData to compare the Camry to the Kia Optima, on how much certain typical jobs cost, parts and labor. Like oil change, transmission fluid change, coolant and thermostat change, spark plugs, suspension struts, etc. Edit: Water pump too. If a job takes an inordinately long time it will show up in the labor metric. Many public libraries subscribe to AllData. If yours doesnt, there’s a free on-line auto repair cost estimator too, but forget what it is called. Maybe someone here remembers. I think you can purchase a temporary subscription to AllData for both of those cars too for not much $$…

BTW, maybe a little perspective is needed here, did you ever hear that saying “happy wife, happy life”? … lol …


Consumer Reports rates the Optima at “Much Better than Average” beginning 2016, the first year of a redesign. The Camry has always been reliable.

I would take the Camry but that’s because I’ve owned Toyotas since the 80s and know they are reliable. The Optima seems like a good car and I don’t think you could go wrong if you choose it.

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If you drive the RAV4, she will drive the other car. She likes the Kia better. The Kia has a better warranty. It is unlikely you will need to use the warranty for the Camry or Optima, but the risk is lower with the Optima. And, of course, she likes the Kia better and she will drive it. Get her what she wants.


Get the Optima. If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I would now compare dealership locations and layouts. If one looks better or has better coffee I would choose it. If you have been happy with service at Toyota I say to go there. The dashboard excitement will fade in about a week. It is great to have a choice. I had to buy a Dodge Caravan because it had 10,000 miles on it as well as a lift for my powered wheelchair. It has been good so far except for buying winter tires. The 2013 Rav4 did not need them.

thanks to all for comments. We got the optima last night. nice car. Wife didn’t want the camry due to the boring dash. She’s happy. So like the posters said, happy wife, happy life (at least until the new car excitement wears off). The only thing is I need a spare tire. Not sure if they even have a jack and lugnut wrench since they tout the road side assistance and towing. I’ll figure that out I guess. thanks again.


Yeah, I hate the fact that manufacturers are eliminating spare tires now. It’s all about meeting unrealistic (IMHO) EPA mandates.

No - it’s all about saving them money. Saves them $100 plus per car. No spare but also many cases no jack either.

Great to see more people like @oilman thinking about opting for active safety features. It has saved my bacon twice now. I have two things to add to this discussion, which has covered all the most important points. First, the new Camry is going to be revealed on January 9th. Personally, I have suffered as a result of buying first-years of new designs, but many folks like to see what the new model offers before committing to the outgoing design. Second, I have traditionally leaned Toyota’s way. I have loved every Toyota (2) and Lexus (2) I have owned. This year I tested both the Camry (Hybrid and XSE) and also the Kia Optima SX Limited. I liked the Camry models very much. The Optima blew me away. My tester was a well-worn media fleet car and I had it a full week. If you are interested in reading the review it is here.

Both. Weight reduction for the purposes of meeting federal mileage mandates is definitely a priority among car manufacturers. There exists endless literature on the subject. Eliminate the spare and you also eliminate the need to make space for it, ergo you can reduce the vehicle’s size while still having some utility. Benefits are not only weight, but a bit better possible aerodynamics.

“Donut” spares were/are an attempt to accomplish the same things. Personally, I much prefer a full service spare. I wanted to get one for my car, but when I took out the donut and the surrounding hard foam blocks that filled the voids, I couldn’t quite get one of my wheels into the cavity. Close, but not quite.

The spare tire was being phased out several years before the new Cafe standards.

CAFE standards were first enacted in 1975, becoming more stringent as the years passed. The process, still continuing, began well before donut tires became commonplace. Efforts to save every pound began as soon as the 1975 standards were implemented. Now it’s morphed into efforts to save every ounce.

Now, that fits with my recollection. My '76 Monte Carlo and my '76 Riviera both had full size spares. My '79 Riviera, and every coupe since then, have had donuts. Of my latest cars, the Cadillac sedan and an SUV have full size, but I’m sure they are in a different category not subject to as stringent CAFE standards.

The caddy would definitely be included in the “Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency” (CAFE). The SUV may not be.
Trucks, a category in which full-framed SUVs were included, were not calculated into the “corporate average”. The “average” is across the model range.

Standards have changed these past recent years, as all standards do, so I don’t know if these vehicles are still excluded or not. A Google should answer the question.

SUVs, minivans and some utility vehicles are in the light truck category of CAFE standards that started in 1979.