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The 2020 Mazda6 and 2020 Kia Optima are compelling contenders in the midsize sedan segment. Both cars are award-winning and have attracted attention for their driving experience and distinct approaches. But which is the better used car; the Mazda6 or the Kia Optima?

2020 Mazda6: Specs, features, and price

The 2020 Mazda6 is more than a pretty face. It offers style and value and is fun to drive. Its attractive cabin and chiseled body offer quality that can only be expected of much pricier cars from luxury automakers. The car has benefited from three refreshes over the past six model years, with the most recent makeover happening in 2018 when the automaker added a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.

This new engine enhances fuel economy and adds more horsepower and torque. There isn’t much to complain about except the complicated folding rear seats. Additionally, if you want more luxury additions, you may need to fork out more money for the top trims.

2020 Kia Optima: Specs, features and price

Kia has decided to retire the Optima name as of 2021 instead of renaming the car to K5 for the North American market. Kia enthusiasts will note that this isn’t much of a rename, but a global rebranding move since the vehicle is already called the K5 in South Korea.

Overall, the 2020 Kia Optima is a solid offering with a handsome interior and exterior and various engine options. However, its hybrid trims are less efficient than rival hybrids, and the plug-in’s battery eats into the car’s trunk space.

2020 Mazda6 vs. 2020 Kia Optima: Driving and performance

A 2020 Mazda6 driving on a sunny day
2020 Mazda6 | Mazda

A non-turbocharged four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission power the base trim of the Optima. Upper trims have other engine options, including a turbo 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and a 2.4-liter I-4 engine that produces 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque.

The Mazda, however, doesn’t go hybrid or plug-in, but you can choose between two responsible engines that pair with a six-speed automatic transmission. The first 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine generates 187 hp, while the second optional engine makes 250 hp.

2020 Mazda6 vs. 2020 Kia Optima: Interior and tech

The 2020 Mazda6 Interior and center stack
2020 Mazda6 Interior | Mazda

The Optima is spacious, with more legroom than most rivals, especially up front. However, for a cargo hauler, you may benefit from not opting for the hybrid variants due to the bulky battery packs. The car’s infotainment system is straightforward, with an 8.0-inch touchscreen and standard connectivity options such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but no mobile hotspot.

On the other hand, the Mazda6 has a luxurious interior for its class and is equally roomy, especially in the front. The cabin is quiet and makes it easy to hold a conversation, which is made possible by the sound-deadening materials Mazda used during the 2018 refresh. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard on the Touring trims and above.

2020 Mazda6 vs. 2020 Kia Optima: Trim levels and features

The 2020 Kia Motors Corp. Optima hybrid vehicle is displayed at the AutoMobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. Engines are taking a back seat to motors at this years Los Angeles Auto Show as carmakers showcase the latest electric additions to their vehicle lineups. Photographer: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg
2020 Kia Optima | Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg

2020 Lincoln Continental: Used Luxury Car Bargain or Ford Fusion Imposter?

The 2020 Optima comes in six trims: LX, S, Hybrid EX, EX, SX, and the Plug-in Hybrid trim, which is the costlier version. The base trim of the LX has a starting MSRP of $24,355. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Optima a Top Safety Pick+. The car also earned excellent ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Conversely, the Mazda6 comes in five trims: Sport, the base trim and costs $25,045, Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve, and Signature. The vehicle was awarded a five-star crash rating from the NHTSA, and the IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick+.

Which used midsize sedan is the right fit for you?

If you’re looking for an affordable used sedan with various engine options, you may find what you want in the 2020 Optima. However, the Mazda6 has slightly better fuel economy (37 mpg against Optima’s 41 mpg). Ultimately, the choice depends on the driver’s needs and preferences.