New 2019 Kia Optima Sedan New 2019
Kia Optima Sedan

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

As an attractive midsize sedan offering good fuel economy, technology, value and everyday ease of use, the Kia Optima is among the company’s best-selling models. Last year, the Optima was made more enticing with a standard 7-inch touch screen offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This year it gets even better as all 2019 Optimas are equipped with a standard suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Foremost among these new safety technologies is Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, which automatically applies the brakes to prevent a frontal collision (or minimize the severity of an impact). Other standard ADAS technology on the 2019 Kia Optima includes Forward Collision Warning, Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning. While some folks might not want all that safety tech, everybody can appreciate Kia’s superb 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, which far exceeds the coverage you’ll get from competitors such as the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Malibu.

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You'll Like This Car If...

The 2019 Kia Optima, with its handsome style, good overall value and abundant safety technology, makes a compelling case that sedans are not dead. From base LX and sporty SX to the efficient EX and hybrids, the Kia Optima meets multiple needs and budgets.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you’re used to the higher seating position of an SUV or a crossover SUV, it might be tough to adjust back into a lower sedan such as the Optima, even with its better driving dynamics. Also, an all-wheel-drive Optima is not available.

What's New for 2019

Most significant, Kia’s new Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Parking Distance Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Change Assist, Lane-Keeping Assist Line and Lane Departure Warning) have been made standard on all 2019 Optimas. Moreover, the Optima’s UVO (voice recognition) telematics system is now broken down into three tiers to make it easier to understand and use. The 2019 Kia Optima also benefits from mildly revised front styling that links it to the Kia Stinger sports sedan.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

Although most people don’t think of the 2019 Kia Optima as a sports sedan, the turbocharged S comes awfully close. While many newer sedans benefit from seven, eight or even more gear ratios, the Optima’s 6-speed automatic transmission -- with paddles mounted to the back of a new flat-bottom steering wheel -- works just fine, shifting smoothly and quickly, especially in Sport, one of the Optima’s four electronic driving modes. In spite of the SX’s sport-tuned suspension and low-profile P235/45-18 tires, the ride quality is neither too firm nor too floaty, and it’s complemented by electric-assist steering with a light but natural feel. In LX and S guise, Kia’s midsize Optima is geared more toward comfort, and the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower is adequate for most drivers. The Optima EX, with its turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, ups the torque quotient while also returning an impressive 37 mpg on the highway, aided by a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that’s not as refined as the conventional 6-speed automatic.

Favorite Features

STANDARD SAFETY SUITE
The new suite of standard safety technologies on the 209 Kia Optima is extensive. It includes Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (your new best friend in crowded parking lots).

ANDROID AUTO & APPLE CARPLAY
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay became standard on the Optima in 2018, providing the same friendly interface you've grown to appreciate on your phone. We love this tech now as much as we did then.

Vehicle Details

Interior

The 5-seat cabin of the 2019 Kia Optima SX is highlighted by high-quality materials, a huge glove box, easy-to-read gauges and a 10-speaker harman/kardon sound system. The front seats -- Euro-styled buckets unique to the SX with large side bolsters -- are trimmed in black leather with perforated seating surfaces done in red hide. Heated and cooled, these seats offer excellent cornering support but are remarkably comfortable over long distances. Headroom front and back, even with the giant panoramic moonroof, is excellent, and there’s enough legroom for the Optima to accommodate four six-footers comfortably. Also worth noting: Kia has simplified its telematics system for 2019 with a 3-tiered approach to make it more user-friendly, and we continue to appreciate how Kia still uses buttons and knobs for most functions, instead of relying on touch-sensitive sliders.

Exterior

KBB staffers agree: The Optima is a styling success, a better-looking midsize sedan than its mechanically similar Hyundai Sonata cousin. And for 2019 the Optima has been made even more striking, thanks to an updated front fascia (with LED running lights) that shows a clear DNA link to the sporty rear-wheel-drive Kia Stinger. While it’s fair to say the Optima hasn’t changed significantly for 2019, it didn’t really need to; this midsize Kia sedan already boasted clean lines and a subtly aggressive stance.

Notable Standard Equipment

Kia’s new Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Parking Distance Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Change Assist, Lane-Keeping Assist Line and Lane Departure Warning) are standard on all 2019 Optimas. Also, UVO telematics is now tiered for easier use, and we continue to celebrate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which were added to the Optima’s list of standard equipment last year. Optima LX and S models are powered by a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The EX has a 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder and a dual-clutch 7-speed automatic gearbox, while the SX -- distinguished by a honeycomb grille and red brake calipers -- is motivated by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder mated to a 6-speed automatic. Other standard equipment on all 2019 Kia Optimas includes air conditioning, an 8-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) touch screen, a rearview camera, Sirius satellite radio and Bluetooth, along with aux and USB inputs.

Notable Optional Equipment

As the top Optima, the SX is generously equipped but still can be ordered with the Limited Package. Included in this $3,800 package are Nappa interior leather, a flat-bottom steering wheel, 18-in. dark satin wheels, a black headliner, chrome side sills, body-color mirrors and rear spoiler, plus interior door and dash trim featuring perforated silver stitching. The package includes a handy surround-view monitor, SXL badges and four other colors of interior leather (besides standard black). Premium packages are available on the base Optima, the LX, along with the EX. On the LX, the $2,000 package includes a power-adjustable driver’s seat, a panoramic sunroof, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gloss-black door pillars. On the EX, the Premium Package, a $3,100 option, adds a power-adjustable front-passenger seat, a harman/kardon sound system (with 14 speakers), ambient lighting, a heated steering wheel and dual-zone full-automatic climate control. If you’d like to order a base 2019 Kia Optima S with a sunroof, you can -- it’s available as a stand-alone $1,000 option.

Under the Hood

The Kia Optima LX and S models are equipped with a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that sends 185 horsepower to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. The EX model has better low-end torque and fuel economy, courtesy of a 178-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that mates to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. If you’re looking for more power, the Optima SX’s turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder generates 245 horsepower in a smooth and linear fashion. This engine mates to a conventional 6-speed automatic that’s more refined than the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox in the EX. Note: The Optima Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid are available as 2019 models, but they are built in South Korea (as opposed to Kia’s plant in West Point, Georgia) and unchanged for 2019. As such, they continue to use a 2.0-liter non-turbo gasoline engine paired to an electric motor. In EPA fuel economy, the Optima LX is rated at 35-mpg highway, while the EX manages 37. The SX, in spite of its added power, still gets a respectable 30 mpg on the highway. Although official EPA figures on the 2019 Optima Hybrid and Plug-in cars have not been released, we expect these models to continue with EPA highway ratings of 46 mpg and 103 MPGe, respectively.

2.4-liter inline-4 (LX, S)
185 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
178 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/33 mpg

1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 (EX)
178 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
195 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/37 mpg

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (SX)
245 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 1,350-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/30 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

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Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a base 2019 Kia Optima LX starts at $23,820, including the $920 destination charge. The S model adds $2,000 to that price, and if you want the 1.6-liter turbo engine in the EX, you'll pay $27,720. The SX with its turbocharged 2.0-liter engine comes in at $32,820. A fully loaded SX Limited with all the trimmings will set you back around $38,000. Pricing for the 2019 Optima Hybrid and 2019 Optima Plug-In Hybrid hasn’t been announced yet, but we expect it to be similar to last year. For the record, the 2018 Optima Hybrid started at $26,890, while the Optima Plug-in Hybrid, which offers 29 miles of all-electric range, began at $36,105 (both prices including a destination charge of $895). 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 2019 Optimas. The Kia Optima is becoming a better long-term investment, beating half the segment in resale value.

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