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2019 Kia Optima brings upscale design, powerful turbo to midsize sedan segment Featured

Posted On Thursday, 11 July 2019 02:09 Written by
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The 2019 Kia Optima SX has a more upscale design than the price range would indicate. It also offers a powerful turbo powerplant. The 2019 Kia Optima SX has a more upscale design than the price range would indicate. It also offers a powerful turbo powerplant. Photo by Matt Myftiu/Autotechreviews.com



It’s no secret that the market for sedans is on the decline, as the public’s demand for SUVs and crossovers has soared, and some automakers are decreasing their sedan offerings.

But the sedans that are available are still duking it out for control of that remaining market share, and within that fight there are many tactics that can be taken. One of those tactics is to offer an upscale design and high-tech offerings to help draw customers.

One sedan offering that takes this path is the 2019 Kia Optima, a midsize sedan that puts in a strong effort and competes well in the segment. I recently spent some time in an Optima, and I’m back with a full report.


First impressions are important, and the Optima’s exterior design makes a strong one. My test vehicle featured a sharp ”Snow White Pearl” paint, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The swooping design of the Optima is very attractive, and the updates to the wheel and headlamp designs flow well with the overall look of the Optima.

Inside, you will get one of the roomier back seats offered in any midsize sedan, and also a spacious trunk. Front passengers have excellent headroom and legroom, and rear leg room is excellent (though head space might be tight for taller passengers in the rear)

The Optima SX Turbo I tested featured a beautifully designed interior with two-tone red and black leather seats. In comfort, look and feel, the design of the Optima interior blows away most of its competition and shines more than you would expect from a non-luxury ride.

There are well-placed controls on the steering wheel and dashboard, and you can turn easily some of the safety features on and off in scenarios where they are not needed. Front seats were both heated and ventilated.

The 2019 Optima features push-button start, LED headlights, fog lights and taillights.

It also offers a very nice full-length panoramic sunroof if you want to let in some Vitamin D while you enjoy your ride.


There are a several powerplant options offered on the 2019 Kia Optima. I tested the most powerful option, which comes on the SX trim level — a 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine that was paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Numbers were 245 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, and paddle shifters are included.

Other options include a 1.6-liter turbo (on EX trim level), which offers 178 horsepower, and a 2.4-liter non-turbo engine (on LX and S trim levels) with 185 horsepower. If you like power, go with the SX trim level. The Optima is a front-wheel drive-only vehicle; with no AWD available.

Overall, the 2.0 turbo provides a fun and responsive ride in a class where competitors are mostly ho-hum. You often don't even realize how fast you are going. Drivers can opt to select either Eco, Sport or Smart drive modes. Sport is the most fun but worst on mileage.


Kia comes strong in the tech arena, both with its infotainment system and by offering a strong slate of safety features on all trim levels.

For starters, drivers will have anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability management, hill start assist, and a tire pressure monitor.

Then we get to the good stuff — A full array of safety features to keep you from hitting anyone or anything with the Optima. These include: Blind Spot Collision Warning; Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (pedestrian); Forward Collision Warning; Lane Departure Warning; Lane Keeping Assist; Rear Cross-traffic Collision Warning and Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go.

Add all of that up and it means one thing: You’ll always feel safe in the Optima, as it has you covered from every angle.

Inside, a powerful Harman Kardon premium audio system with Clari-Fi did not disappoint, and the center of attention is the UVO infotainment system with its 8-inch touchscreen, navigation and rear camera. The UVO system worked very well in my experience, via both touch and voice commands. The navigation proved highly efficient at finding POIs during a route, too.

The Optima also features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. And you get three months of satellite radio for free before you have to pony up the monthly fee.

Bluetooth connectivity is featured for streaming audio and phone calls.

The official fuel mileage numbers on the Optima SX with the 2.0 turbo engine are: 21 city/30 highway/24 combined. During my time in the car, I averaged about 25 mpg without using conservative driving methods. These numbers are a bit lower than competitors with similar engine offerings, such as the Hyundai Sonata and Honda Accord, but the difference isn’t massive enough to make this a deciding factor.

The Optima I tested was loaded and came to just over $33,000. Base price starts about $23K. These amounts are consistent with the segment, where most options are pretty evenly priced.

On the plus side, you get great warranties, which allow the Optima to stand out from its competition in a good way. These include:

  • 10 year, 100K limited powertrain warranty  
  • 5 year, 60K limited basic warranty 
  • 5 year, 60K roadside assistance 



Kia continues to impress across its lineup, and the 2019 Optima is a bold statement in the midsize sedan category that is becoming more and more upscale each year. It offers sharp design inside and out, strong tech offerings, and a ride you can truly enjoy — a combination of traits you won’t find often when sedan shopping.

AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2019 Kia Optima   
  • Price as tested: $33,315 (starts about $23K)
  • Best feature: Sharp exterior, high-quality interior, strong performance from 2.0-liter turbo engine
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Midsize sedan buyers seeking a spacious, upscale ride and some turbo power to spice up the drive
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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