Kia Optima

Kia has been excellent at building cars that seem more expensive than they are. The Optima has become a surprisingly stylish and appealing entry in the competitive mid-size segment.

Three engine options are offered for 2017: A 178-horsepower turbocharged 1.6L, a 185-horsepower 2.4L 4-cylinder and a 245-horsepower turbocharged 2.0L. The 1.6L engine is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Other engines are paired with a conventional 6-speed automatic.

The Optima Hybrid utilizes the 2.4L 4-cylinder engine and pairs with it with a lithium polymer battery and electric motor. It comes in base and EX trims and comes equipped similarly to the gasoline-powered Optima.

The 2017 Optima ranges from base LX, LX Turbo, EX, SX Turbo and SXL Turbo trims. The LX and EX come with the 2.4L engine. The LX Turbo comes with the 1.6L engine, and the SX and SXL come with the 2.0L turbo engine.

Base LX models come surprisingly well equipped, including 16" alloy wheels, chrome door handles, fog lamps and remote keyless entry. Of course, all the power accessories buyers expect today are included, as are a complete suite of airbags as well as a 6-speaker stereo with Bluetooth and satellite radio.

The LX Turbo trim gets the 1.6L engine as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a proximity key system. EX models upgrade to leather seat trim, 17" alloys, heated and power-adjustable driver seats, a heated steering wheel and dual-zone climate control.

SX Turbo Optimas get a sport-tuned suspension, 18" machined alloy wheels, HID headlamps, integrated navigation and a smartphone connected infotainment system. The top-of-the-line SXL Turbo model upgrades to premium Napa leather seats, 18" chrome alloys, a 10-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system with surround sound and Bluetooth. Both seats are power-adjustable with memory, ventilation and adjustable lumbar.

Notable options include blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and a parking assist system. Heated rear seats, a panoramic sunroof, lane-departure warning, advanced "Smart" cruise control are also available.

LX Optima models start at only $22,000 while top-of-the-line Optimas are priced at just over $36,000. The Optima Hybrid starts at around $26,000.

Editors' Review

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The midsize sedan segment is no longer a class of boring appliances designed simply to get you from point A to B. Segment leaders like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord are actually fun to drive as well as aesthetically creative. When those cars are specced to be the top of their respective lines, they remain strong value propositions that threaten the justification for spending thousands more on their Lexus or Acura counterparts.

The 2019 Kia Optima is another compelling entry in the midsize sedan market, especially in its top-spec SX Turbo guise. Even before its 2019 facelift, the Optima was one of the better-looking sedans in the segment. On top of that, it's got a load of standard tech and is surprisingly nimble to boot. But is its refresh enough to keep it a worthy consideration among the segment's top players?

Midsize is the new 'near luxury'

My Optima SX Turbo tester rings the cash registers at $32,395 (not including $920 for destination) and has features like heated and ventilated leather seats, a panoramic sunroof and a Harman Kardon premium audio system operated through an easy-to-use 8-inch touchscreen that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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The Good The 2019 Kia Optima has head-turning good looks, loads of tech and a snazzy interior lead to a lot of car for reasonable money.

The Bad While darty like a sport sedan, there's little tactile connection to those athletic moves.

The Bottom Line While it's a few years older than the top players in the segment, the 2019 Kia Optima remains an appealing midsize sedan.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 7
  • Features 7.5
  • Design 8
  • Media 8.5

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