- Impressive range of standard features.
- Great safety scores.
- Excellent powertrain options.
- Quirky hands-free trunk opening function.
- Average cargo capacity.
- Handling could use improvement.
Would we buy one? Yes.
Vehicle Type: Four-door midsize sedan with seating for five.
Price Range: Starting pricing for the LX base trim is $23,820 MSRP. The upper-tiered Optima SX starts at $32,820 MSRP. Prices are before options and upgrades. A $995 destination charge is included in the pricing.
Powertrain: Several powertrain options are available for the 2019 Optima lineup, including a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine making 178 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, and a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine generating 245 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.
Front-wheel drive is standard coupled with either a 6-speed automatic or 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Competitors: Hyundai Sonata, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Mazda 6, Audi A3, Subaru Legacy, Volkswagen Passat, Volvo S60, Chevrolet Malibu.
Overall Score: 8.8/10
Safety Features: 10/10
Safety was not an afterthought for Kia when they released the 2019 model year of the Optima. Competitors like the Chevrolet Malibu have advanced features but only available as options, while the Optima has them standard on all trims starting with the base LX. This makes it an excellent midsize sedan for those prioritizing safety features when shopping for a new car.
All trim levels for 2019 Kia Optima receive the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Included in this suite of safety features is a list of goodies usually reserved for upper-tier trims at an extra cost in some rivals.
The ADAS's safety features include a forward collision assistance function with automatic emergency braking coupled with a forward collision warning, useful features in mitigating damage during collisions to reduce the severity of impact.
Other attractive features include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and a driver assistance feature to enhance driver alertness. Lane-keep assist and lane departure warning also comes standard. Blind-spot monitoring is a useful function, as are the rear parking sensors, which both come standard.
Available options include pedestrian detection, alerting you when pedestrians are near, adaptive cruise control, and adaptive headlights for increased safety. There is also a 360-degree surround-view camera.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2019 Optima five out of five stars in frontal, side, and rollover testing. The Kia Optima scored well with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and designated a 'Top Safety Pick Plus' and given 'Good' ratings.
The Kia Optima has seen some positive changes since it entered the segment, with each successive model year adding new improvements. In a midsize sedan segment that has been slowly fading away with changing consumer tastes, the Kia Optima still finds new ground to stand on.
New for the 2019 Kia Optima, advanced safety and infotainment features come standard on all trim levels. This shows Kia's commitment to keeping the Optima relevant in a mid-sized sedan segment that is evolving with changing consumer demands and tastes.
There are four trim levels for the 2019 Kia Optima: LX, S, EX, and SX.
Pricing for the LX trim starts at $23,820 MSRP. This trim level has many standard features and sound performance that make this price point attractive for savvy new car shoppers looking to maximize their return.
Next, the S trim starts at $25,820 MSRP and adds larger wheels and an upgraded interior, but shoppers may want to look to the higher tier trims to get better standard features.
The upper-tier trims Kia Optima EX and Optima SX start at $27,720 and $32,820, respectively.
The Optima Hybrids start at $28,815 MSRP and comes only in the EX trim.
Adding to the Optima's value is a strong warranty of 5 years/60,000-miles bumper-to-bumper and the powertrain covered with a warranty that is equally favorable at 10-years/100,000-miles.
The second-highest-tier Optima EX trim is a solid choice that we liked. The Optima EX caught our eye with an excellent price point. Even adding some extras doesn't make the cost of the Optima EX prohibitive. We would pass on the SX and the lower-tiered trims to see what the following years of development bring.
Tech Features: 9/10
Infotainment system features are abundant, even with the standard trim levels. An 8-inch touchscreen display handles modern connectivity and navigation features. Kia made many more commonly optional tech features standard for the 2019 Optima.
Standard tech starting with the base LX includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with USB ports for devices. SiriusXM satellite radio and a 6-speaker audio system are equipped in the base model. Bluetooth connectivity is included. The LX also gets a rearview camera and other safety-related tech mentioned above. Some available features for the LX include dual-zone climate control, a power-adjustable driver's seat, and a Wi-Fi hot spot.
The Optima S trim gets a panoramic power sunroof and remote start added. Heated power-adjustable front seats start at the EX trim.
Kia uses UVO telematics, which is voice-activated and helps drivers stay more focused and alert. Three systems are available with the UVO to access some of the infotainment mentioned above and add special vehicle diagnostics apps and navigation features, depending on the UVO system.
The upper tiered SX trim gets treated to a premium 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system to give a more refined, high-quality audio experience. LED headlights with auto-leveling also come standard on the SX trim, as do an upgraded navigation system and interior ambient lighting.
Kia made sure to include practical interior functionality in its design of the 2019 Optima. Comfortable seating and a functional cabin along with smart storage and sufficient cargo space combine to provide an enjoyable and comfortable ride.
Legroom and headroom are roomy for all passengers in both front and rear seats. We found the ride comfortable for both front and rear occupants over a reasonably long trip with no complaints. However, taller individuals may find the back headroom a little confined because of the sloped roof.
Entering and exiting the Optima is easy for all passengers and drivers. People of all ages should find the Optima to be an accessible ride.
Cargo space in the trunk of the Optima is fair at 15.9 cubic feet. This gives it more cargo space than rivals like the Chevy Malibu. A 'Smart Trunk' feature is included with the Optima. Standing behind the vehicle with the key activates and opens the trunk. We have seen this feature before and feel it needs more development to be truly useful.
Both driver and passenger have clear visibility up front. Standard high-beam headlights and available LED headlights add to functional safety and visibility.
Styling & Design: 7/10
The 2019 Kia Optima is an attractive car and has some thought put in the design with interior styling, including soft-touch interior materials, a panoramic sunroof, and available Nappa premium leather upholstery. Creature comforts like a heated steering wheel boost up the refinement in the Optima. Still, it does not reach the levels of sophistication that may be found in more expensive rivals, which is fine for the value the Optima offers.
The Optima has sleek lines and does away with more conservative-leaning sedan designs that were the yesteryear models' hallmark. For 2019 the Optima gets front and rear bumper makeovers with the addition of LED fog lights and running lights. Sport is emphasized for the body as has been since the current remake body style was adopted a few years ago. The Optima does an impressive job of fooling onlookers that they see a high-end luxury sedan instead of a modest economical family car.
The bucket front seats trimmed in rich black leather with red leather stitching add an impressively stylish touch in the SX trim that we loved. The SX also has diamond-quilted leather seats that add to its luxury demeanor. Visible red brake calipers on the wheels coordinate with this set up to ramp up the SX's sport factor. Also, the SX trim goes farther with sleek gloss black trim touches on the exterior and sporty 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The finishing touch is the black rear spoiler.
Driving Experience: 9/10
Kia continues to improve and refine the performance, design, and functionality of the Optima. With three powertrain options and either a 6-speed or 7-speed automatic transmission depending on trim levels, the Optima has a lot to offer in performance.
The Optima's cabin is noticeably quiet, and exterior noise is muted, giving a pleasant drive.
The 2.4-liter engine has sufficient horsepower and performance but will likely not impress many who want a little more pep. It performs adequately as a daily driver for commutes and family engagements. The 1.6-liter should make fuel-conscious shoppers happy. However, the real performance powertrain will be found in the 2.0-liter turbocharged 245 horsepower engine in the SX trim.
The EX trims 7-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission coupled with the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine does kick out some power, and it manages to negotiate that power with the proper torque. The Optima works through the seven-speed gearbox with little flaw. The same can be said with the beefier SX model, and it's 245 horsepower 2.0-liter powertrain. The EX may be a better choice for fuel efficiency while the SX is more geared for performance, forgoing fuel economy concerns.
The Optima does not offer an all-wheel-drive option, but the standard front-wheel-drive manages just fine through cornering with low body roll felt. It also feels in control on rough and wet roadways, even without the help of all-wheel-drive. The SX has a sport-tuned suspension that can feel rough sometimes but is otherwise soft riding. Competitors like the Mazda 6) seem to have better driving dynamics overall and put a bit more emphasis perhaps on performance than the Optima does.
Maneuvering the Optima is fair. It is not the most compact sedan, but it is not huge either, so negotiating parking lots and tight spaces should not be difficult, especially when using the advanced driver assistance features.
Paddle shifters on the wheel allow the driver more refined shifting control for the 2.0-liter powertrain.
Challengers like the Toyota Camry may offer a slight edge in performance over the Optima. And if you are seeking AWD for better traction and enhanced performance, the Nissan Altima provides this option, while the Optima has the sole front-wheel drivetrain.
Fuel Efficiency: 9/10
Fuel economy is one of the high points of the Kia Optima. Its wide range of powertrain options has placed the Optima in the top rankings for gas mileage. While the Optima hybrid variant is not as impressive, the gas-only engines pick up the slack and deliver excellent results. Still, rivals like the Honda Accord do get better gas mileage with similar powertrains.
The Kia Optima LX trim with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and FWD is estimated at 25/35/29 MPG city/hwy/combined according to EPA estimates.
24/33/27 MPG city/hwy/combined are expected for the Optima S trim with the same drivetrain and engine setup.
The EX trim with the 1.6-liter inline turbocharged four-cylinder is estimated at 27/37/31 MPG city/hwy/combined.
According to the EPA, for the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder FWD Optima, consumers can expect gas mileage of 21/30/24 MPG city/hwy/combined.
The hybrid variant of the Kia Optima does ok in its estimates with the EPA at 39/45/40 MPG city/hwy/combined. Still, other hybrids in the segment may make more attractive propositions for fuel-conscious consumers, such as the Honda Accord Hybrid or Toyota Camry Hybrid, which have higher fuel economy estimates.