Optima sedan got an exterior and interior “freshening” for 2019,
the first key changes since the gasoline-only models moved into
their fourth generation for 2016 and the hybrid versions arrived in
their second generation for 2017.
There are four
gasoline-only trim levels for 2019, starting with the LX 2.4
($22,900, plus $920 freight), followed by the S 2.4 ($24,900), EX
1.6 Turbo ($26,800), and the top-of-the-line SX 2.0 Turbo ($31,900),
which we tested for this report.
For 2019, there are
two hybrid models: the base EX for $27,985 plus $920 freight, and
the EX PHEV — plug-in electric hybrid — for $35,290.
The PHEV model’s
hybrid battery pack can be connected to an external power source for
recharging, which means that it can run on electric power alone if
the battery is kept charged and isn’t allowed to run down. If the
battery does run down, though, the PHEV can continue going on its
gasoline engine, just like the regular EX hybrid. The plug-in model
was added to the hybrid lineup for 2017.
engines are available in the gas-only models, beginning with a
normally aspirated 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder, standard in the
LX and S models, with 185 horsepower and 178 foot-pounds of torque.
This engine is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission.
EX models get a
turbocharged 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder with 178 horsepower and
195 foot-pounds of torque, mated with a seven-speed, dual-clutch
performance automatic transmission.
Our SX model came
with the most-powerful engine option: a turbocharged 2.0-liter
inline four-cylinder rated at 245 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of
torque. It’s paired with a different six-speed automatic
The hybrids have a
2.0-liter, 154-horsepower four-cylinder gasoline engine, coupled
with a 50-horsepower electric motor in the standard model, or a
66-horsepower motor in the plug-in version.
Total combined output
of the engine and electric motor is 192 horsepower and 271
foot-pounds of torque in the base hybrid, and 202 horsepower and 276
foot-pounds of torque in the PHEV.
EPA ratings for the
gasoline models are 25 mpg city/35 highway/29 combined (LX);
24/33/27 (S); 27/37/31 (EX); and 21/30/24 (SX).
Hybrid EPA ratings
are 39 city/45 highway/41 combined for the base hybrid, and 38/43/40
for the PHEV, which has a 29-mile range on battery power alone.
As for the 2019
changes, the Optima got some new design features inside and out, but
not enough to qualify it as a new generation. It also received
expanded Advanced Driver Assistance Systems technology, new UVO
infotainment options, and available European-inspired red and black
two-tone sport leather-trimmed seats (standard on the SX),
There are also new
alloy wheel choices, ambient LED interior lighting, and a new
Passion Red exterior color. Our SX model came with a Sparkling
Silver exterior and black interior (except for the two-tone seats),
and 18-inch alloy wheels.
LX models get new Kia
Stinger-inspired LED daytime running lights, new 16-inch alloy
wheels and a matte gray grill.
S — or Sport —
models now have projector-beam fog lights, LED taillights, dual
exhaust, sport side sills with gloss-black trim, a gloss-black
grill, and 18-inch alloy wheels. They also come with a smart key
with pushbutton start, smart trunk, and power front windows with
Besides the 1.6-liter
turbo engine and dual-clutch transmission, the EX now has an
adaptive Smart Shift drive mode; new leather seats with front-seat
heaters; new 17-inch alloy wheels; Smart Cruise Control with
Stop-and-Go; and the fog lights, LED taillights and dual exhaust
from the S model. Options include multicolor interior lighting and a
heated steering wheel.
SX models can be
dressed up further with the SX Limited Package ($3,800, not included
on our tester), which adds 18-inch Dark Satin alloy wheels with
P235/45R18 Michelin tires; black headliner and pillar covers; chrome
accent side sills; front and rear upper door trim and instrument
panel with silver perforated stitching; heated rear outboard seats;
leather wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel with black perforated
stitching and paddle shifters; upgraded Nappa leather seat trim;
body-color outside mirrors and rear spoiler; rear side-window
sunshades; and a Surround View Monitor.
New LED fog lights,
ambient interior lighting, sport steering wheel and Smart Cruise
Control with Stop-and-Go are standard on the SX model, which also
comes with a panoramic sunroof; Harman Kardon premium audio system
with UVO link and navigation; heated steering wheel; gloss-black
door pillars and side moldings; and a sport bumper with LED fog
The new Advanced
Driver Assistance Systems include such features as Forward
Collision-Avoidance Assist, which automatically applies brakes to
reduce speed to avoid a frontal collision; a Forward Collision
Warning System, designed to detect a potential collision with the
vehicle ahead, giving the Optima driver audible and visual warnings;
Driver Attention Warning, which keeps an eye on the driver for signs
of fatigue; Lane Keep Assist, which can keep the vehicle from
drifting out of its intended lane; and Lane Departure Warning, which
lets the driver know if the vehicle is drifting out of its lane
without a turn signal being activated.
telematics and infotainment systems have been updated for 2019, with
a variety of features depending on trim level. They include Apple
CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
In the hybrid models,
there is a lightweight, high-density lithium-polymer battery pack,
placed under the trunk floor.
Gasoline models have
a roomy 15.9 cubic feet of trunk space, with a 60/40 split-folding
rear seatback. Regular hybrids have 13.4 cubic feet of trunk space,
and the PHEV has just 9.9 cubic feet (in both hybrids, some space is
lost to the battery pack).
Unlike some hybrid
sedans — such as the Toyota Prius — the Optima hybrid looks
almost identical to its gasoline-only sibling. But the hybrid does
have a few unique styling cues, including a front air curtain,
beveled rear bumper, rear diffuser shrouding the exhaust tip, and
aerodynamic alloy wheels.
Included on our SX
was the hands-free smart trunk opener, which automatically pops the
trunk lid open if someone stands behind it for more than three
seconds with the key fob.
Among standard safety
features are front seat-mounted side air bags, roof-mounted
side-curtain air bags for both rows, driver’s knee air bag,
electronic stability control with traction control, antilock disc
brakes, hill-start assist, and tire-pressure monitoring.
We had an abundance
of power from the 2.0-liter turbo engine, with very little sign of
turbo lag or the torque-steer effect often associated with
Our time in the SX
included a weekend trip with three adults on board, and occasionally
four or five in the car for restaurant and sightseeing outings. The
front seats are quite comfortable, as are the rear outboard
positions. The middle position is OK for a small adult or child, but
tight for a larger person.
The ride was smooth
and reasonably quiet, even on some bumpy roads.
There were no options
on our 2019 Optima SX. Total sticker price was $32,820, including
2019 Kia Optima
The package: Midsize,
four-door, four-cylinder gasoline or gasoline/electric hybrid
powered, front-wheel-drive, five-passenger family sedan.
midsize sedan got a complete makeover for 2016, and the
gasoline-electric hybrid model was updated for 2017; for 2019, there
are numerous upgrades and styling tweaks. This is the best Optima
yet, looking more like a luxury car than an affordable, mass-market
is tight for taller people in models with the sunroof.
2.4-liter normally aspirated inline four-cylinder gasoline (LX, S);
1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline inline four-cylinder (EX); 2.0-liter
turbocharged inline four-cylinder gasoline (SX); 2.0-liter inline
four-cylinder gasoline engine and 50 HP. electric motor (base
hybrid); 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine and 66 HP.
electric motor (PHEV).
Six-speed automatic (LX, S, SX, hybrids); seven-speed dual-clutch
automatic (EX gasoline).
HP./178 foot-pounds (2.4); 178 HP./195 foot-pounds (1.6 turbo); 245
HP./260 foot-pounds (2.0 turbo); 154 HP/140 foot-pounds (hybrid,
gasoline engine alone).
control: Standard, including traction control.
Side air bags: Front
seat-mounted; roof-mounted side-curtain, both rows.
Length: 191.1 inches.
Trunk capacity: 15.9
cubic feet (gasoline models); 13.42 cubic feet (base hybrid); 9.9
cubic feet (PHEV).
Curb weight range:
3,230-3,558 (gasoline); 3,486-3,788 pounds (hybrids).
18.5 gallons/unleaded regular (gasoline models); 15.85
gallons/unleaded regular (hybrids).
EPA fuel economy: 25
mpg city/35 highway/29 combined (LX); 24/33/27 (S); 27/37/31 (EX);
21/30/24 (SX); 39/45/41 (base hybrid); 38/43/40 (PHEV).
Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen Passat, Chevrolet Malibu,
Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Mazda6, Honda Accord.
Base price range:
$22,900-$32,900 plus $920 freight (gasoline); $27,985-$35,290
Price as tested:
$32,820, including freight (2019 SX, no options).
On the Road rating:
8.7 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are
manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.