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2019 Kia Optima Delivers More Style, Substance

Competes with: Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry

Looks like: The Optima lineup gets some light cosmetic updates

Drivetrain: Engines include a 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder; a 178-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder; and a 245-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Transmission choices include six- and seven-speed automatics.

Hits dealership: Late 2018

Kia’s Optima mid-size sedan returns for 2019 with updates that add style and substance. The refreshed 2019 Optima made its debut at the 2018 New York International Auto Show with mildly freshened styling, additional standard safety features that were previously optional and a restructured multimedia system.

Related: More 2018 New York Auto Show Coverage

For 2019, LX, S, EX and SX models return with updates to all trims.

Exterior

Outside, the updates are mild and include standard upgrades across the lineup, such as Stinger-inspired LED daytime running lights, a new 16-inch alloy wheel design and matte-gray grille. The S model adds new projection-beam foglamps, LED taillights, dual exhaust, sport side sills with gloss-black trim, a gloss-black grille and 18-inch alloy wheels. The SX model gets sportier trim like gloss-black door pillars and side moldings, and a sport bumper with LED foglamps.

Passion Red is a new exterior color choice.

Interior

For 2019, Kia restructured the availability of its UVO multimedia system into what it says is an easy-to-understand tiered system. The 2019 Optima is the first Kia to launch with this approach; others will follow.

On base models, the UVO Play system is standard; it features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Stepping up, the UVO Link system is standard on mid-level S and EX models and, aside from also being Apple Car Play and Android Auto compatible, Kia says it offers an extended suite of connected-car security and convenience features like on-demand diagnostics, maintenance alerts, vehicle alarm notifications, geofencing and speed alerts, as well as convenience features such as remote start with climate control, remote locking and unlocking, and remote activation of the horn and lights.

Offered as standard on SX models and sedans with the SXL package, and optional on EX-trim cars with the Premium Package, is the top-tier UVO Link with navigation system. It includes all the features of the first two UVO tiers plus navigation functionality.

Other interior updates are minor, and the SX model sees all the upgrades, including new two-tone red-and-black, leather-trimmed sport seats, a Harman Kardon premium audio system and, on SXL models, an available new two-tone bronze-and-black interior with Nappa leather seating surfaces.

Under the Hood

The Optima’s powertrains carry over for 2019 and include a 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder; a 178-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder; and a 245-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Six- and seven-speed automatic transmissions also return.

Safety

For 2019, Kia has made a number of safety features standard on the Optima, including forward collision avoidance assist, which can automatically apply the brakes to reduce speed if a collision is imminent. It works with forward collision warning, which sounds an alert chime if it senses a collision is imminent. Also standard, the driver attention warning system monitors the driver’s behavior and will alert the driver with visual and audible cues if it senses the driver’s attention level has been reduced. Lastly, lane departure warning with lane keep assist alerts the driver if the car shifts out of the lane and then automatically corrects the steering to get it back into the lane.

The 2019 Optima goes on sale later this year; Kia said it will announce pricing closer to the vehicle’s on-sale date.

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