Kia's 2019 Optima remains virtually the same vehicle it was in 2018. Why change a good thing?
The midsize sedan is loaded for the price. Sales are far behind those of those the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, but are approaching or better than those of Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, Mazda 6 and Hyundai Sonata.
Prices range from $23,000 to $35,000 for the three trim levels, which mimics the price range of the competitors. Several powerplants are offered and they include a hybrid and a plug-in electric.
The most powerful powerplant is a 2-liter, 245-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a six-speed shiftable automatic transmission. That was the powerplant in a 2019 SX model that arrived for a week of test driving. The powerplant was sporty and spirited while averaging 29.4 miles per gallon using regular unleaded gasoline.
The top-of-the-line $31,900 SX included Harman/Kardon high definition sound system including AM-FM and satellite SiriusXM radio, MP3 audio with five-inch LCD rear camera display, USB and charging ports, auxiliary jack and Bluetooth wireless technology.
Kia's information system called UVO is standard on all Optima models. The system with an eight-inch color display has advanced voice recognition technology, utilizes the voice to help make hands-free calls and manages an owner's music library. The system couples with telematics for a free smartphone app and connectivity with a navigation system. UVO also includes diagnostics capabilities and a rear camera display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the lineup.
SX standard equipment includes power sunroof, power heated and ventilated front seats, pushbutton start, smart key, remote trunk release, cruise control, tilt and telescoping manual leather-clad heated steering wheel air conditioning with air filtration, center console for USB chargers and two 12-volt outlets, smart cruise control, power express windows, power foldable and heated exterior mirrors and power door locks. Memory for two includes settings for driver's seat and exterior mirrors.
The trunk opens by key fob or by remote control on the dashboard and what is notable is that when opened remotely, the trunk lid goes way up and not for simply four, five or six inches. Storage space is 15.9 cubic feet approximating that of competitors. The trunk is lighted and a minispare is stored under the floor. The trunk is flat and deep. The split rear seats fold flat for access to the trunk allowing for more storage space.
Leg room in front is an official 45.5 inches which equals that of a full-sized sedan. To get that amount of leg room in front as well as to design a large trunk, rear seat leg room is reduced to an official 35.6 inches. Rear seats are served by a pulldown armrest with cupholders, storage facilities on front seatbacks, coat hangers and armrests.
The Optima feels bigger than it should be. Interior cabin volume is 120 cubic feet, which actually puts the Optima into the large instead of the midsize sedan class, according to the federal government. Even so, in the marketplace, the Optima remains a midsize car. The large sedan class, per the government, begins at 120 cubic feet.
SX interior trim is leather with sporty inserts front and rear.
The interior layout is sensible. Sound controls are easy to understand. There are manual knobs, if one wants to use them, for tuning and volume. Otherwise the sound can be controlled by a pushbutton screen.
Sensible is the positioning of fuel filler cap and trunk release, side-by-side on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel.
As noted earlier, changes are subtle for a 2019 Optima SX. The black-trimmed 18-inch wheels replace 17-inchers as standard equipment and so fog lights are LEDs, not halogens.
Vehicle: SX model of 2019 Kia Optima
Type: four-door, five-passenger, front-wheel-drive midsize sedan
Engine: 2-liter, 245-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder
Transmission: shiftable six-speed automatic
Fuel: unleaded regular
Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
Tires (235), wheels: 18-inch, space saver spare
Brakes: discs, 12.6-inch front, 11.2-inch rear
Suspension: independent front and rear including struts, coil springs, gas shocks, multi-links and stabilizer bars
Weight: 3,558 pounds
Turn circle, curb-to-curb: 35.8 feet
Leg room: 45.5 inches in front, 35.6 inches in rear
Wheelbase, length, width, height, ground clearance in inches: 110.4, 191.1, 73.2, 57.7, 5.3
Trunk: 15.9 cubic feet
Safety: antilock braking system, traction and stability controls, air bags in front, on sides in front, driver's knee and overhead for two rows, hill-start assist, dusk-sensing headlamps, tire pressure monitoring system, seatbelts with headrests for five, blind spot collision, rear cross-traffic and forward collision warnings, lane change assist, forward collision avoidance assistance with pedestrian detection, lane departure/lane keep assist, driver attention warning (sensors sense drowsiness and trigger a noise device)
Warranty: five years or 60,000 miles with roadside assistance, 10 years or 100,000 miles powertrain
Assembly: West Point, GA