After jolting the dowdy midsize sedan segment to attention with its sleekly-styled third-generation model, the Kia Optima is back for the latest model year with a fresh face and a new lineup of efficient four-cylinder engines.
The Kia Optima is all-new for the latest model year and rides on an updated platform that is slightly longer and wider than the model it replaces. Styling is also new, but not radically different from the last version of the Optima. The mid-sizer's front end has been updated with a reshaped grille and headlights that are more expressive than before. A set of vertical air inlets in the Optima's lower bumper give the mid-sizer a more aggressive look.
The Optima's signature coupe-like roofline remains, but a pair of small windows have been added just aft of the sedan's C-pillars to improve outward visibility. The tail of the Optima has been redesigned with new taillights that feature LED technology on upper-end models, optional chrome dual exhaust outlets and an available decklid spoiler.
The Kia Optima measures 191.1-inches in length, placing it directly between the Toyota Camry (190.9-inches) and the Honda Accord (192.5-inches). However, the Optima is wider than either of those models, giving it a sportier stance.
The interior of the Optima is also all-new and features an overall design that is more conservative than we've come to expect from Kia's mid-size offering. Although less exciting than the driver-focused cockpit of the last Optima, the new interior does feature improved materials across the board.
Optima LX 2.4, LX 1.6T and EX 2.4 model ship standard with a 5-inch touchscreen audio system that also serves as the display for a standard rear-view camera. The Optima's infotainment system features Bluetooth connectivity and Sirius Satellite radio. An 8-inch touchscreen with navigation is available on LX 1.6T and EX 2.4 models and is standard on SX 2.0T and SXL 2.0T models. The Optima's infotainment system was designed to be compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Efficient Engine Choices
A carryover 2.4L four-cylinder stands as the base engine for the Optima EX 2.4 and LX 2.4. Rated at 185 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque, the four-cylinder sends its power to the Optima's front-wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA says the Optima's 2.4L engine is good for 25mpg in the city and 37mpg on the highway, although those figures dip to 24mpg in the city and 35mpg on the highway when heavy options like leather and a sunroof are specified.
An economy-minded 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder joins the Optima range for the latest model year. Available with the LX trim, the turbo-four generates 178 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Mated to an in-house designed seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the Optima LX 1.6T is capable of returning 28mpg in the city and 39mpg on the highway.
The Optima's 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, paired exclusively with a six-speed auto, makes a return for the new model year as standard equipment in SX and SXL trims. Power is slightly down from the previous Optima, however, shrinking from 274 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque to 245 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The upshot of that power decrease is better fuel economy; city fuel economy for Optima SX and SXL models jump 2mpg to 22mpg while highway mileage is up 1mpg to 32mpg.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Kia Optima LX 2.4 comes competitively equipped with standard features like a 5-inch touchscreen audio system, keyless entry, 16-inch wheels, steering wheel-mounted controls, tilt and telescopic steering column, cruise control and power side mirrors with LED turn signal indicators. The LX 1.6T includes a few more perks, including push-button start, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, auto up-and-down front windows and power-folding side mirrors.
A Convenience Package is the only available option for the Optima LX 2.4. It includes power-folding side mirrors, a rear parking assist system, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic assist and 12-way power adjustable driver's with memory function.
The Optima LX 1.6T can be upgraded with a Technology Package that comes with UVO eServices with premium navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, USB 2.1 charger ports and LED taillights.
The mid-level Optima EX 2.4 adds 17-inch wheels, gloss black door and pillar frame covers, LED taillights, dual-projector headlights, dual-zone climate control, woodgrain accents, leather upholstery, 12-way power adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
Two option packages are available for the Optima EX; a Premium Package and a Premium Audio Package.
The Premium Package includes a panoramic sunroof, UVO eServices with premium navigation, 10-way power-adjustable front passenger's seat, ventilated front seat and LED interior lighting. The Premium Audio Package features a Harman/Kardon surround sound system, heated rear seats and rear door window sunshades.
The Optima SX 2.0T comes packed with 18-inch wheels, sport bumpers, red-painted brake calipers, a sports suspension, unique LED taillights, HID headlamps, a rear spoiler, a 4.3-inch LCD instrument display panel, an 8-inch touchscreen with navigation and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The Optima SX's lone option, a Technology Package, includes a panoramic sunroof, high beam assist, Harman/Kardon sound system, adaptive cruise control and ventilated front seats.
The top-spec SXL comes standard with a 10-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system, premium Nappa leather, an electronic parking brake, black headliner, power adjustable passenger's seat, ventilated front seats and heated outboard rear seats.
Every Kia Optima comes standard with a comprehensive safety suite that includes advanced driver and passenger front airbags, seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, driver's knee airbag and active front headrests. Four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control and vehicle stability management are also included at no extra charge.
Advanced safety features like autonomous emergency braking, front collision warning, lane departure warning and a surround view monitor are optional on the Optima SX and standard on the SXL trim level.
The Kia Optima competes in the midsize sedan segment against the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Chrysler 200, Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu.