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2018 Kia Optima

Get Your Fair Purchase Price See actual transaction prices, explore total cost to own, projected resale value and more. See what you should pay

2018 Kia Optima Expert Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 8.9

The 2018 Kia Optima sedan family receives a handful of improvements this year, building on the momentum it has earned since its introduction in 2016 when it won our Best Buy award for midsize sedans. The Optima established itself early as a leader in the midsize-sedan segment, offering excellent performance, power, fuel economy, technology and value. Against rivals like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Chevy Malibu, the Optima holds its own, with the 2018 Optima now offering a standard 7-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and standard blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking-assist systems. The icing on the cake: the Optima's 10-year/100,000-mile warranty.

You'll Like This Car If...

The 2018 Kia Optima offers a little something for everyone, packing value and technology at every trim level, from the base-model LX, to the sporty turbocharged SX, and the hybrid and plug-in hybrid. The competitively priced Optima also comes standard with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

You May Not Like This Car If...

While you can get driver-assist technology on the Optima, it's reserved for higher-end models, unlike the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, which offer it across the board. Unlike the Subaru Impreza, the Optima isn't available with all-wheel drive either.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 8.9
  • 8.8
  • 8.5
  • 8.8
  • 8.7
  • N/A
How It Ranks
2018 Kia Optima Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

The 2018 Kia Optima gets a standard 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system, and standard blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking assist. A new S trim level adds a level of sportiness at a lower price, offering a sporty front bumper, rear spoiler, 17-inch alloy wheels and more.

Driving the Optima
2018 Kia Optima Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

Kia’s 2018 Optima isn't billed as a sports sedan, but the SX model with the turbo engine doesn't seem to have gotten the memo. The 245-horsepower turbocharged engine, quick-shifting 6-speed...

... automatic, and responsive steering all make the Optima SX turbo feel more agile and fun than many of its competitors. The SX gets singled out here thanks to its better power-steering setup and firmer suspension and 18-inch wheel-and-tire package. The LX and EX are geared more toward comfort, which is no bad thing really. The good news is that superior handling doesn't come at the expense of a harsh ride. While we love the turbo's plentiful power, we have to admit that the standard 2.4-liter engine is actually more than adequate for most drivers, and the 1.6-liter with its 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is a nice intermediate step, although the transmission could use some refinement.

ANDROID AUTO & APPLE CARPLAY
With Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard across the board on a 7-inch touch screen, the 2018 Optima feels that much more modern. And what's not to like: Both systems offer up the same interface you've grown to love on your phone, and with similar functionality, too.

HARMAN/KARDON AUDIO
Kia knows you're going to be listening to more than your own thoughts, and the harman/kardon QuantumLogic7 surround audio system in the 2018 Optima goes a step beyond its rivals with its Clari-Fi feature that helps restore even old MP3 files.

2018 Kia Optima Details
2018 Kia Optima Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

Kia bifurcates the 2018 Optima interior with a metallic band of trim, placing the gauges, infotainment touch screen and vents above, and the audio-system and climate-control buttons below. As we expect in Kias these days, the interior materials all feel high quality, and we like the soft-touch panels on the door tops, dash and pretty much everywhere else. We also like the fact that Kia still uses buttons and knobs for most functions, instead of relying on touch-sensitive sliders. The comfortable seating extends to the huge back seat, and Optima SX Limited models get Nappa leather and other high-end touches.

Exterior
2018 Kia Optima photo

The 2018 Optima is a good-looking and sharply styled car, one that subtly builds on the design language established by the previous-generation car. We like the long, low look, the "tiger-nose" grille treatment, and the subtly aggressive stance. Then again, we said the same things about the previous-generation Optima, and considering the significant changes under the skin, it'd be nice if that skin was different as well. Then again, that gamble didn’t pay off too well for Hyundai’s Sonata, so we’re fine with the Optima keeping a familiar look.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

All Optima models now come with a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In addition to that, the base-model LX comes with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, and a Driver Mode Select system that switches among Normal, Sport and Eco modes. Other standard features include air conditioning, a rearview camera, and controls on the tilt-telescope steering wheel for the cruise-control and audio systems. The infotainment system includes Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth, aux and USB inputs. The front seats adjust manually, except for the driver's power lumbar.

Optional Equipment

You can equip the LX with a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder connected to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic or you can step up to the 2.0-liter turbo in the SX models. Other options include a new Convenience Package for LX models that adds a 10-way-power driver's seat and laminated front-side windows, and of course the new S model. EX and SX buyers can add active cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning, while the Limited package on SX models adds Nappa leather, an around-view monitor and more. Of course, there's also the harman/kardon audio system we can't say enough nice things about.

Under the Hood
2018 Kia Optima Engine photo

The base Optima LX, S, and EX models all get a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. There's an additional low-end engine available on the LX, a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder connected to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. If you want power, the Optima SX 2.0L Turbo comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 245 horsepower, also connected to a 6-speed automatic. If you're looking at hybrids, they use a 2.0-liter non-turbo engine paired to an electric motor. Fuel economy is solid across the board, with LX models getting 34 mpg on the highway, SX getting 31 mpg, and the LX 1.6T model getting 37 mpg. The 2018 Optima Hybrid promises 46-mpg highway and the plug-in 103 mpge.

2.4-liter inline-4 (LX, EX)
185 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
178 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 mpg

1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 (LX 1.6T)
178 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
195 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/37 mpg

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (SX, SXL)
245 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 1,350-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg

2.0-liter inline-4 + Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (Hybrid)
154 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
140 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
Electric Motor: 50 horsepower/151 lb-ft of torque
Net Output: 192 horsepower/271 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 39/46 mpg

2.0-liter inline-4 + Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (Plug-in Hybrid)
154 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
140 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
Electric Motor: 66 horsepower/151 lb-ft of torque
Net Output: 202 horsepower/276 lb-ft of torque
EPA fuel economy: 103 mpge/40 mpg combined

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a base Optima LX starts at just under $23,400, including the $895 destination charge. The new S model adds $1,000, and if you want the 1.6-liter turbo engine in your LX, you'll pay just under $25,200. EX models start at about $26,500, while the SX with its turbocharged engine comes in at about $31,400. Start checking option boxes and you'll wind up at about $38,000 for a fully loaded SX Limited with all the trimmings. Hybrid prices haven't been announced yet, but will likely be similar to last year. Overall, the Optima's prices are in line with the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and the rest of the midsize-sedan segment. Check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see how much others in your area paid for their 2018 Optimas. The Kia Optima is becoming a better long-term investment, beating half the segment in resale value.

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