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2008 Kia Optima

Overview
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2008 Kia Optima Review

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The Kia Optima continues to offer buyers a well-built, well-equipped family sedan for less money than the competition. Based on the same platform as the Hyundai Sonata, the Optima distances itself with sportier exterior and interior treatments, as well as a significantly lower base price. Over the last few years Kia has made impressive strides in both quality and content and, while not yet on par with such giants as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, the Optima comes very close. The Optima provides a roomy, comfortable interior, a large trunk and a choice between a fuel-efficient four-cylinder or a powerful V6 engine. Even the most basic models include such standard safety features as side-curtain airbags and front-seat active head restraints.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're looking for a four-door sedan with responsive driving characteristics, a lot of features and an attractive price, the 2008 Kia Optima should be on your shopping list. It's handsome, offers impressive safety features and represents a good value for the money.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you absolutely crave attention, the Optima's exterior, which some may describe as bland, may not grab your eyes -- or anyone else's. And, despite generous interior volume for the category, this midsize package won't be big enough for larger families.

What's New for 2008

No major changes for 2008.

Driving the Optima

Driving Impressions The Kia team has made a commitment to blending the Optima's features into a nice combination of driving capabilities. In what might be considered as unexpected for a Korean brand,...

the Optima is actually fun to drive. Movements of the steering wheel are rewarded with crisp reactions into corners, body roll is minimal and the Optima enjoys a balanced feel, particularly when you consider it's a modestly-priced front-wheel-drive sedan. We found it completely engaging and enjoyable.

2.4-liter Four-cylinder Engine
Although its specifications aren't too dissimilar from others in the midsize segment, the Optima's all-aluminum 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine delivers a pleasant character that is involving for the driver. It offers crisp response and decent power, and is so good that, on balance, there seems little justification for either the additional expense or the greater fuel consumption of the V6.

Appearance Package
The LX Optima is a well-equipped model that is considerably above the basic transportation category. For just under $3,000, however, the Appearance Package provides a host of upgrades attractive to both the original purchaser and, subsequently, the resale market.

2008 Kia Optima Details
2008 Kia Optima photo Interior

Kia continues to offer increasingly worthwhile upgrades in interior design, materials and safety. Even in base LX form, the Optima's interior materials rate well above merely acceptable. Choose the available Appearance Package and you'll receive aluminum interior trim, automated light control and silver-accented inside door handles. On those cars with leather we were impressed by the leather's tone and its perforated texture. Conversely, the standard instruments could benefit from a typeface that was more attractive and readable and the front seat cushions could be angled up a bit more. As the Optima is intended to appeal to young families, safety receives an appropriate emphasis. Its standard airbag arrangement includes advanced dual front airbags and front seat-mounted side airbags, along with full-length side-curtain airbags.

Exterior

While unobtrusively styled, the 2008 Kia Optima is still modern and attractive. The profile is fronted by an attractively restrained grille that's framed by halogen headlights with either clear or blacked-out lenses. The passenger cabin provides a nice balance between outward visibility and efficient aerodynamics. Front and rear overhangs are fairly short, while the fenderwells are nicely filled with either the standard 16-inch or the available 17-inch tires. The overall effect is that the Optima looks balanced and secure, in a way that is modern and even sporting.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The Optima continues Kia's tradition of providing a generous level of standard equipment for an attractive price. Our test LX model, with the four-cylinder engine, included power heated exterior mirrors, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, four-wheel disc brakes, an AM/FM/CD audio system with auxiliary input jack and a split-folding rear seat. Beyond that, it offered gas shock absorbers and front and rear anti-roll bars, features often available only as parts of "sport" or "handling" packages with other cars.

Optional Equipment

For those wanting a higher level of comfort, convenience and functionality, there is available leather seat trim, power and heated front seats, a manually-operated rear-window shade, power-adjustable pedals, automatic climate control, alloy wheels, power moonroof, Infinity sound system and subwoofer, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and other features and options. The Electronic Stability Control Package (available on EX and LX with automatic transmission) provides anti-lock brakes (ABS), stability control, traction control and brake assist with one easy check on the option list.

Under the Hood

Our driving experience was limited to the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with either the five-speed manual or five-speed automatic. In both instances we were pleased by the engine's responsiveness, and the transmission gearing was well matched to the engine's characteristics. Although 162 horsepower isn't exactly stratospheric, in combination with a respectable 164 pound-feet of torque it's very usable. We see little benefit in opting for the V6, given the balance, efficiency and entirely acceptable performance of the in-line four.

2.4-liter in-line 4
162 horsepower @5800 rpm
164 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31

2.7-liter V6
185 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
182 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28

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2008 Kia Optima Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.0
Out of 10

Based on 266 Ratings for the 2006 - 2010 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.2/10
    Quality
    9.1/10
  • Reliability
    9.4/10
    Performance
    9.1/10
  • Comfort
    9.1/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

See complete review

By on Sunday, October 05, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Excellent quality and no problems...NONE!"

Cons: "Zero."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Car bought from rental co. At 31k miles. In four years we bought one tire, two sets of wiper blades, a new battery, and three oil changes. No other services or parts needed! Car runs like new and we love it. I don't even know here the nearest kia dealer is."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Decent

By on Sunday, September 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 107,000

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
5/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Somewhat comfortable to drive"

Cons: "Break issues"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4

"This car is decent for a sedan. I have a lot of problems with the breaks, they lock up sometimes, and notice that the original tires need air sooner than it should. I drive this car to work almost every day. Overall it's an alright car, but not one I would like to buy again."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

Great car for the price I paid!

By on Friday, August 22, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 110,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "great price, held up well with 100k in 5 years"

Cons: "interior is a little cheap in some spots"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This car has outlasted my expectations - at purchase, we were able to talk the dealer down to 13,900. It is the base model, but I was not looking for fancy. The 100,000 mile warranty was the biggest selling point, as my daily commute is rather long. At 5 years and 100,000 miles, I really cannot complain. The transmission didn't die, but was slipping a bit - so the dealer replaced it under warranty at 80K+/- miles. I gave it a 7 for quality because for a few different reasons: the original brakes had to be replaced at 30K and the rotors near after. The visor vinyl is cracking and pulling away from the mirrors, and the latch on the front armrest compartment is broken. The seat coverings seem durable and the interior does easily clean up. The car has always driven well in terms of comfort and road handling. The exterior design is nothing fancy, but seems pretty modern alongside parked BMW's. There is LOTS of trunk room, and the back seats both fold down. I had to use the free roadside assistance a few times - once for a lockout and once for a flat tire - that was helpful."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Never had a problem. Great pickup for 4 cyl.

By on Friday, August 15, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,400

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Only problem with car is middle passenger in rear seat is uncomfortable due to drop down arm rest (causes bulge in seat) Only an occasional problem, as usually there is only my wife and I in the car."

ran really well

By on Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 200,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "low maintenance"

Cons: "uncomfortable seating"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"rode smooth. very uncomfortable seats. interior made of low quality. road noise. steering a little rough to handle, especially with passengers."

Nearly excellant condition.

By on Monday, July 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Very well taken care of by a female driver."

Cons: "Service history is not 100% complete."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

Super used vehicle, well taken care of.

"Four new tires and brake job within last 2 months. Excellent appearance. Well taken care of, inside and out. Averages over 25 mpg in city driving. Drives and steers very nicely. Nice radio and CD player. Lower than average mileage. Exterior is grey with chrome trim and door handles. Steering wheel is fixed. Power driver's seat adjustment. Power windows, door locks and side view mirrors. Trunk and gas cover releases on driver door."

7 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Super used vehicle, well taken care of.

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