2019 Kia Optima Review


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2019 Kia Optima Overview

Kia brought its A-game with the 2019 Optima, providing cutting-edge technology and safety features, and wrapping it in a head-turning, contemporary package. It faces stiff competition from the Toyota Camry, Mazda6, and Hyundai Sonata.

The Optima has been updated for 2019, adding some flair with the 2.0T SX, and adding more driver-assistance features. It continues to offer a spacious interior, as well as a trunk area that provides 16 cubic feet of space.

Even the trained eye might have difficulty finding the new design elements, but they include an updated lower front grille, and several styling cues taken from the sporty Kia Stinger GT. Inside styling has been largely carried over, with a straightforward, modern aesthetic.

Trims for the 2019 Optima include the LX, S, EX, and SX. The base LX includes 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime-running lights, and a 3.5-inch TFT instrument panel display. Other standard features on the LX include a USB port, 60/40 split-fold rear seats, Bluetooth, and an 8-inch color touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Moving from the base LX to the S trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels, gloss black exterior accents, and dual chrome exhaust tips. Inside, the S adds an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and cloth seats with leatherette inserts.

The EX features smaller 17-inch wheels, but gains plenty more content, including acoustic windows, satin chrome interior door handles, an electronic parking brake, black leather seat trim, and heated front seats.

The range-topping SX trim adds a 12-way driver's seat, a 10-way front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, navigation, a heated steering wheel, and a Harman Kardon premium stereo.

The base engine in the Optima is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, found in the LX and S trims, making 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. The EX trim comes with a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, making 178 hp and 195 lb-feet. The range-topping SX trim comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, putting out 245 hp and 260 lb-feet.

With the 2.4L and 2.0T engines, a 6-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels. With the 1.6T engine in the EX, a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), which operates as an automatic, sends power to the front wheels.

No matter what engine or trim selected, the Optima comes with the helpful Drive Mode Select, which optimizes steering feel, throttle response, and shift mapping for different driving conditions. It provides Comfort, Eco, and Sport drive modes, while the EX and SX also gain a Smart mode that senses your driving style, and changes the drive mode accordingly.

The most efficient version of the Optima is the 1.6-liter engine from the EX, returning 27 mpg city, 37 highway, 31 combined. The 2.4-liter returns 24, 33, 27. The 2.0-liter engine in the Optima SX returns fuel economy of 21, 30, 24.

The Optima comes standard with safety features such as front- and side-impact airbags, traction control, a reversing camera, a tire-pressure monitoring system, and parking sensors. It also comes standard with a host of driver-assistance features, including forward-collision avoidance assist, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and driver-attention warning.

Upgraded driver-assistance systems include low-beam assist, surround-view monitors, smart cruise control, and pedestrian detection.

There are a handful of options packages that tacks on a whole host of content for a fee. The LX Premium Package adds alloy wheels, 10-way power front seats, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, panoramic sunroof, LED cabin lighting, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

The EX Premium Package adds front-seat memory settings, a Harman Kardon premium stereo, navigation, and heated and ventilated front seats. The range-topping SX, available with the SX Premium Package, adds unique 18-inch alloy wheels, unique accents and trim, heated rear seats, contrast dash stitching, a body-color rear spoiler, Nappa leather interior, and D-shaped sport steering wheel.

From the well-equipped base trim, to the range-topping SX, the 2019 Kia Optima has the goods to run with the best modern sedans. It’s also a great value, to boot.


From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.

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Kia Optima Questions


2019 Kia Optima Starting When Cold Issues

I bought a brand new 2019 Optima and there's been a couple times in the last couple days it has had trouble starting. It starts running, but the only way I can describe it is that it's only half way...

Screen Monitor In 2019 Kia Optima

Can you make the screen a color screen?


2019 Kia Optima Fe Won't Start

Sporadically when I got to turn on my 2019 kia Optima fe i put the key in the ignition and everything turns on and it sounds like the car is about to turn on but it just doesn't. Then I take the k...


Hi, when I turn engine off, how long will it be before radio automatically turns off it I stay in car. If it doesn’t turn off, how do I turn it off to prevent running down battery?