2004 Kia Optima

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Key Specs
Our Take
Overview
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
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Key Specs

of the 2004 Kia Optima. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    23-26 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    138-hp, 2.4-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Ride comfort
  • Price
  • Maneuverability
  • Stability

The Bad

  • Resale value
  • Uncertain reliability record
  • Inconsistent automatic-transmission operation

Notable Features of the 2004 Kia Optima

  • Four-cylinder or V-6
  • Manual or automatic transmission
  • Standard side-impact airbags
  • 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty

2004 Kia Optima Overview

By Cars.com Editors
Vehicle Overview
Kia moved upscale during the 2000 model year when it began offering the midsize Optima sedan, which was based on the front-wheel-drive Hyundai Sonata. The Optima's styling differed from the Sonata, but the two models shared engines and other major components.

A new grille goes on 2004 Optima models, which can be fitted with restyled 16-inch alloy wheels. What was previously the SE trim level is now called EX. The Optima comes with either a four-cylinder or V-6 engine, and a Sportmatic automatic transmission is available.

Kia is owned by Hyundai � South Korea's largest automaker � but the companies maintain totally separate brand identities and dealer networks. Warranties cover the entire vehicle for five years/60,000 miles and major powertrain components for 10 years/100,000 miles.


Exterior
Even though Kia borrowed some styling touches from the Sonata and the two share some major components, the Optima has a unique nose and grille, which is the main visible difference between the two cars. Both vehicles have a 106.3-inch wheelbase, but at 185.8 inches long overall, the Optima is a tad shorter than the Sonata and several inches shorter than the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

Interior
Front bucket seats and a three-place rear bench allow the Optima to seat five people. A folding rear seat expands maximum cargo space beyond the trunk's 13.6-cubic-foot capacity. The rear armrest offers additional storage space.

Standard equipment for the base LX model incl...
Vehicle Overview
Kia moved upscale during the 2000 model year when it began offering the midsize Optima sedan, which was based on the front-wheel-drive Hyundai Sonata. The Optima's styling differed from the Sonata, but the two models shared engines and other major components.

A new grille goes on 2004 Optima models, which can be fitted with restyled 16-inch alloy wheels. What was previously the SE trim level is now called EX. The Optima comes with either a four-cylinder or V-6 engine, and a Sportmatic automatic transmission is available.

Kia is owned by Hyundai � South Korea's largest automaker � but the companies maintain totally separate brand identities and dealer networks. Warranties cover the entire vehicle for five years/60,000 miles and major powertrain components for 10 years/100,000 miles.


Exterior
Even though Kia borrowed some styling touches from the Sonata and the two share some major components, the Optima has a unique nose and grille, which is the main visible difference between the two cars. Both vehicles have a 106.3-inch wheelbase, but at 185.8 inches long overall, the Optima is a tad shorter than the Sonata and several inches shorter than the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

Interior
Front bucket seats and a three-place rear bench allow the Optima to seat five people. A folding rear seat expands maximum cargo space beyond the trunk's 13.6-cubic-foot capacity. The rear armrest offers additional storage space.

Standard equipment for the base LX model includes air conditioning, a CD stereo, and power windows, locks and mirrors. The EX sedan adds a power moonroof, remote keyless entry, cruise control, and a stereo system with cassette and CD players, among other features. An eight-way power driver's seat in the EX includes lumbar support.


Under the Hood
Both the LX and EX are offered with a choice of engines: a 138-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 170-hp, 2.7-liter V-6. A four-cylinder LX sedan may be equipped with either a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. Other models are available only with the automatic unit, which incorporates adaptive logic and a provision for manually selected gear changes.

Safety
Antilock brakes are optional on models equipped with the V-6 engine. Side-impact airbags are standard, which places Kia ahead of some competitors.

Driving Impressions
A smooth, easygoing ride leads the list of merits in the Optima, which glides neatly over moderate bumps without transmitting much commotion to occupants. But rougher surfaces begin to impair its composure. The Optima is easy to maneuver and offers excellent stability on the highway. Acceleration with the V-6 engine reaches well beyond adequate, and the automatic transmission responds well, even though an abrupt downshift can occasionally occur at lower speeds.

The Optima's seats are somewhat firm but still comfortable. All told, few faults come to mind after a lengthy drive. In overall competence, Kia's midsize model comes surprisingly close to the level of the Accord and Camry. Throw in its modest price, and the Optima serves as an appealing contender.



Latest 2004 Optima Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.3)
Performance
(4.2)
Interior Design
(4.2)
Comfort
(4.3)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Good one

by Hassan from Tampa, fl on September 23, 2018

Very good comfortable good condition good for family i have try it and recommend it for any body and also plus it is very cheap Read full review

(4.0)

A Reliable Lemon

by eh8789 from Atlanta, Ga on May 10, 2018

First off, I'm calling this car a reliable lemon because it turned out to be a lemon, when I bought it, but after paying for the repairs, it became a reliable car. It's a nice, boring car, in my eyes, ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2004 Kia Optima currently has 1 recall

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2004 Kia Optima has not been tested.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Optima received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker