2019 Kia Optima

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$22,990

starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown

Sedan

Body style

27

Combined MPG

5

Seating capacity

191.1” x 57.7”

Dimensions

Front-wheel drive

Drivetrain

Overview

The good:

  • Value pricing
  • Many standard safety, drivet assist features
  • Class-leading warranty
  • Spacious interior
  • Intuitive controls
  • Crash-test ratings

The bad:

  • Unremarkable engines
  • So-so handling
  • Uninspired interior design
  • Firm ride with sport suspension (SX)
  • Top trim levels can get pricey
  • Middling gas mileage

4 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2019 Kia Optima trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best Sedans for 2024

Notable features

  • Five-seat mid-size sedan
  • Updated styling for 2019
  • Newly standard automatic emergency braking
  • Standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder
  • Available turbocharged 1.6-liter, 2.0-liter engines
  • Available Nappa leather seats
See also: How Do Car Seats Fit in a 2019 Kia Optima?

2019 Kia Optima review: Our expert's take

By Kelsey Mays

kia optima sx t gdi 2019 01 angle  dynamic  exterior  front  silver jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 02 angle  dynamic  exterior  rear  silver jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 03 angle  exterior  front  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 04 exterior  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 05 badge  detail  exterior  silver jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 06 detail  exterior  side view mirror  silver jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 07 exterior  front  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 08 detail  exterior  front  headlights  silver jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 09 angle  exterior  rear  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 10 exterior  rear  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 11 exterior  rear  silver  spoiler jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 12 detail  exterior  rear  silver  taillights jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 13 badge  detail  exterior  rear  silver jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 14 detail  exterior  rear  silver  tailpipe jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 15 engine  exterior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 16 drivers seat  front row  interior  wide jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 17 front row  interior  passenger  wide jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 18 front row  interior  wide jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 19 front row  interior  steering wheel jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 20 controls  detail  front row  interior  steering wheel jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 21 badge  detail  front row  interior  steering wheel jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 22 controls  detail  front row  interior  steering wheel jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 23 detail  drive mode  front row  instrument panel  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 24 detail  drive mode  front row  instrument panel  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 25 detail  front row  instrument panel  interior  safety tech jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 26 center console  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 27 center console  climate control  detail  front row  interior  seat jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 28 center stack display  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 29 center stack display  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 30 camera  center stack display  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 31 center stack display  climate control  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 32 center console  detail  front row  interior  outlet  storage jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 33 controls  dashboard  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 34 center stack  detail  front row  interior  outlet  storage jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 35 badge  black  detail  front row  interior  red  seat  two tone  upholstery jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 36 doors  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 37 interior  second row jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 38 center console  climate control  interior  outlet  second row jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 39 armrest  cupholders  interior  second row jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 40 interior  trunk jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 01 angle  dynamic  exterior  front  silver jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 02 angle  dynamic  exterior  rear  silver jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 03 angle  exterior  front  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 04 exterior  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 05 badge  detail  exterior  silver jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 06 detail  exterior  side view mirror  silver jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 07 exterior  front  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 08 detail  exterior  front  headlights  silver jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 09 angle  exterior  rear  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 10 exterior  rear  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 11 exterior  rear  silver  spoiler jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 12 detail  exterior  rear  silver  taillights jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 13 badge  detail  exterior  rear  silver jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 14 detail  exterior  rear  silver  tailpipe jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 15 engine  exterior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 16 drivers seat  front row  interior  wide jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 17 front row  interior  passenger  wide jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 18 front row  interior  wide jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 19 front row  interior  steering wheel jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 20 controls  detail  front row  interior  steering wheel jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 21 badge  detail  front row  interior  steering wheel jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 22 controls  detail  front row  interior  steering wheel jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 23 detail  drive mode  front row  instrument panel  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 24 detail  drive mode  front row  instrument panel  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 25 detail  front row  instrument panel  interior  safety tech jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 26 center console  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 27 center console  climate control  detail  front row  interior  seat jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 28 center stack display  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 29 center stack display  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 30 camera  center stack display  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 31 center stack display  climate control  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 32 center console  detail  front row  interior  outlet  storage jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 33 controls  dashboard  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 34 center stack  detail  front row  interior  outlet  storage jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 35 badge  black  detail  front row  interior  red  seat  two tone  upholstery jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 36 doors  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 37 interior  second row jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 38 center console  climate control  interior  outlet  second row jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 39 armrest  cupholders  interior  second row jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 40 interior  trunk jpg

The verdict: The Kia Optima overcomes a hit-and-miss driving experience with value galore, especially now that Kia has added much-needed standard safety features for 2019.

Versus the competition: Even in a dwindling crowd of mid-size sedans, the Optima faces stiff competition in the form of redesigns from its Japanese rivals, none of which it beats for overall refinement. Still, it’s hard to beat Kia’s value proposition.

As we explain in our Optima video, mid-size sedan popularity has collapsed in recent years, even as major competitors like the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry sport fresh redesigns (compare them here). For 2019, the Optima is midway through its fourth generation, but Kia has issued a raft of updates (read more about them here), including some much-needed additions on the safety and driver assist front. We evaluated the highest of four trim levels, the SX Turbo. Stack up the trims for the 2019 Optima here, or compare the 2019 and 2018 Optimas here.

One last bit of housekeeping: We cover the related Optima Hybrid and Optima Plug-in Hybrid separately in our Research section. Compare them with the non-hybrid Optima here.

Got it? Onward.

kia optima sx t gdi 2019 03 angle  exterior  front  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 07 exterior  front  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 04 exterior  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 09 angle  exterior  rear  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 10 exterior  rear  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 03 angle  exterior  front  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 07 exterior  front  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 04 exterior  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 09 angle  exterior  rear  silver  textures and patterns jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 10 exterior  rear  silver  textures and patterns jpg

Middling Powertrains

The SX Turbo is powered by the Optima’s top available engine, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (245 horsepower, 260 pounds-feet of torque). That’s become a common size in this class — six other mid-size sedans also offer a turbo 2.0-liter — but not all examples are equal, and Kia’s underwhelms. Step on the gas from a stop and the Optima SX has a bit of old-school turbo lag: Power can take a few moments to show up, and it’s comparatively modest even at full bore versus competitors like the quick-revving Accord 2.0T and the potent Camry V-6.

A six-speed automatic transmission (standard on the Optima SX) downshifts with respectable haste when you need passing power, but a couple of more gears and the faster revving they would bring could make the most of this engine. I don’t call for that lightly — more gears often introduces hunting and kickdown delay — but the Optima’s platform sibling, the Hyundai Sonata, successfully upgraded to a responsive new eight-speed automatic one model year ago. (Hyundai and Kia are affiliated automakers.) It’s unfortunate the Optima did not.

Most variants get a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (185 hp, 178 pounds-feet of torque), which also pairs with a six-speed automatic. Though we haven’t evaluated it recently, the same drivetrain in the Sonata is adequate but uninspiring, which stands in contrast to the improbably good base drivetrains of the Accord and Camry.

Higher up the Optima’s trim ladder, there’s an available turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder (178 hp but just 195 pounds-feet of torque) that teams with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. It fared well in our earlier evaluations of the current-generation Optima and makes for the best Optima in terms of gas mileage (excluding the hybrid): 31 mpg combined in EPA estimates versus ratings in the mid- to high-20s for other drivetrains. Still, if mileage is paramount, even the 1.6-liter Optima narrowly trails its most efficient competitors.

kia optima sx t gdi 2019 15 engine  exterior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 26 center console  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 15 engine  exterior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 26 center console  detail  front row  interior jpg

Ride and Handling

SX models pair low-profile tires and the Optima’s largest available wheels (18-inchers, versus 16s or 17s elsewhere) with a sport-tuned suspension. The results are, I suspect, too firm for most shoppers in this class: High-speed isolation is OK, but the suspension jostles the cabin over rapid elevation changes and responds harshly to highway expansion joints. The overall experience evokes the Altima, another firm-riding car.

In exchange for that, the SX changes direction reasonably quickly, with limited body roll, and the Kumho Solus tires on our test car provided fairly good grip in sweeping corners before the nose eventually pushed. It’s fun enough, but it doesn’t distinguish itself in a field of rivals — the Accord and Camry in particular — that strike a better ride/handling balance.

Fortunately, the Optima’s three other trim levels have normal suspension tuning, and two of them pair that with smaller wheels and higher-profile tires. Those differences should improve ride comfort, so compare a few of them on your test drives. It’s worth noting that a few years back, a 1.6-liter Optima with smaller wheels drew praise from Cars.com editors for its ride comfort.

The Inside

Changed minimally since the current generation debuted in late 2015, the Optima’s interior features a towering monolith of a dashboard and lots of simple, trim-free expanses. Most cabin materials are soft-touch where they need to be, but the design lacks much inspiration — and it doesn’t live up to the prior generation’s eye-catching dashboard, which helped it earn our highest award at the time.

kia optima sx t gdi 2019 16 drivers seat  front row  interior  wide jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 19 front row  interior  steering wheel jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 31 center stack display  climate control  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 35 badge  black  detail  front row  interior  red  seat  two tone  upholstery jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 37 interior  second row jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 40 interior  trunk jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 16 drivers seat  front row  interior  wide jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 19 front row  interior  steering wheel jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 31 center stack display  climate control  detail  front row  interior jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 35 badge  black  detail  front row  interior  red  seat  two tone  upholstery jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 37 interior  second row jpg kia optima sx t gdi 2019 40 interior  trunk jpg

Still, the 2019 Optima boasts comfortable seats with good adjustment range up front, plus decent front and rear headroom even with our test car’s panoramic moonroof. All trims get a standard height-adjustable passenger seat — something no Accord or Altima offers. The center console houses two sizable cubbies ahead of the cupholders, which is one more than what most competitors give you. The standard 8-inch touchscreen has straightforward menus and all the essential physical controls, including volume and tuning knobs. You’d be surprised how many cars botch such basics.

Features and Value

Automatic emergency braking, a critical safety feature that’s widely standard among competitors, was only an option on top trim levels of the Optima last year. Kia wisely made it standard for 2019, along with an array of driver assist features, including stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, blind spot detection and, above 40 mph or so, lane-centering steering. (Like Hyundai, Kia won’t call it lane centering, but in our experience it can do just that when programmed for maximum intervention.) For around $24,000 including destination — about $1,000 less than a 2019 Accord, Altima or Camry — the Optima comes standard with all of that, plus Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Kia’s class-leading warranty.

Check all the boxes and you can get Nappa leather upholstery, power-adjustable seats with heating and cooling up front, heated rear seats, keyless access, Harman Kardon premium audio and the panoramic roof. Loaded up thus, the Optima will set you back some $37,000.

Strong crash-test ratings bolster the Optima’s case: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the halogen headlights on most trims poorly, but the well-rated LED headlights on the SX earn it a Top Safety Pick Plus designation. All trims get strong scores in the agency’s new passenger-side small overlap test.

Fresher rivals are all-around better cars, to be sure, but the Optima’s value proposition should land it enough shoppers to keep it relevant. The relative deficits mount as you climb the trim levels, and any mid-$30,000s Optima begs spending your money elsewhere. But most Optima shoppers aren’t buying such cars: As of this writing, 90 percent of Optima inventory on Cars.com is listed below $30,000. That’s where Kia makes a sound case.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.8
  • Interior 4.8
  • Performance 4.6
  • Value 4.6
  • Exterior 4.8
  • Reliability 4.7

Most recent consumer reviews

1.0

Car is a throw away

2019 Kia optima 79k miles burns 3 quarts of oil every 500 miles. I was hoping to keep this car but my mechanic said trade it in a buy a Toyota these cars are crap.

5.0

Satisfying decision

Very happy with this vehicle all the way around. Rides nice very comfortable for long distance not bad to travel in. Plenty of pick up also pushing Sport button the vehicle speeds acceleration is quite good.

1.0

Run from this junk

Loved my kia optima. Sporty fun to drive and always got lots of compliments on it. But the love ended fast. About two and a half years later 43,000 MI. My car kept going in a limp mode. Brought it to the dealer. They reprogram the sensor said everything was good. 3 weeks later car went to limp mode again. Brought it back they replaced the sensor got my car back the same day. Then 2 and 1/2 months later my car goes in limp mode again. Brought it back to the dealer this time they said I need a new engine. Kia approved the engine on my maintenance was done at the dealer. So no issues there but the engine is on backorder. And they will only give me a 12-month warranty on the new engine! So now I have to sit here for months and wait for my car to be fixed. And the worst part is the only want to give me a 12-month warranty on the new engine! So this engine lasted two and a half years and 43,000 MI. What makes you think that the new one is going to last any longer? So now I'm trying to get rid of the car so I don't end up with a paperweight in my driveway that I saw over 20k on. Do not buy Kia do not buy Kia

See all 154 consumer reviews

Safety

Based on the 2019 Kia Optima base trim.
Combined side rating front seat
5
Combined side rating rear seat
5
Frontal barrier crash rating driver
5
Frontal barrier crash rating passenger
4
Overall frontal barrier crash rating
5
Overall rating
5
Overall side crash rating
5
Risk of rollover
9.8%
Rollover rating
5
Side barrier rating
5
Side barrier rating driver
5
Side barrier rating passenger rear seat
5
Side pole rating driver front seat
5

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Kia
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
60 months/60,000 miles
Corrosion
60 months/100,000 miles
Powertrain
120 months/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance
60 months/60,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
6 years or newer/less than 80,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12,000 miles
Powertrain
10 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
165-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

Compare the competitors

See all 2019 Kia Optima articles