2019 Kia Optima Review

2019 Kia Optima - Kia's Optima provides value for price


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

Price: $31,900

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

Information: www.kia.com/optima


Jerry Kuyper

Born on a southwestern Minnesota farm, Jerrold E. Kuyper quickly became familiar with tractors, pickup trucks and related agricultural equipment. He left that behind to graduate from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and attend graduate schools in Evanston and Chicago. He was hired as a reporter for the Kenosha News, a daily newspaper in Kenosha, WI. After a stint of a dozen years at the Kenosha News, he became a columnist, layout, page and sections editor at the Northwest Herald, a daily newspaper based in Crystal Lake, IL serving northwest Chicago suburban communities.

While with the Northwest Herald he helped create, write reviews and opinion columns as well as edit the newspaper's Wheels section, a 16- to 40-page broadsheet that appeared weekly in the newspaper's Friday edition. Wheels was devoted to reviews of new vehicles, looks at automotive history, current trends in the automobile world and columns by automotive enthusiasts. Midwest Automotive Media Association members who contributed to reviews and columns included Mitch Frumkin, Phil Arendt, Matt Joseph and James Flammang as well as photo journalist Doug Begley and dragster specialist Fred Blumenthal.

Kuyper, who lives in Salem Lakes, WI, is a founding member of MAMA, is married, has three children and six grandchildren.