Mid-size Refresh: 2019 Kia Optima

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
mid size refresh 2019 kia optima

In the midst of a market that apparently abhors the traditional four-door sedan, Kia showrooms are awash with them. The new K900 appeared in New York this week, the Cadenza occupies a sliver of segment, the Stinger is taking care of the sporty crowd, and the Optima goes head-to-head with Camcords.

For 2019, Kia has bestowed the latter with new driver assists, some infotainment tweaks, and a choice of no fewer than three different engines. If a sedan is on your shopping list, it would seem the Korean automaker has plenty of choices (and choices within those choices) from which to select. As for visual clues that you’re looking at a 2019, well, meet the new 보스, same as the old 보스.

On the decidedly non-Ace of Base SX 2.0T trim, buyers will find zooty “European-style” sport leather seats in two-tone red and black. A panoramic roof, Harman Kardon sound system, and exterior visual juju set it apart from its lower priced stablemates.

Cleaning up trim levels means the Optima will now be offered in LX, S, EX, and SX varieties. Base LX sedans earn LED daytime running lights, not unlike those found on the Stinger, plus a few other tweaks to the grille and rim design.

Three direct-injected engines are offered across the four trims — an engineering choice that cannot be cheap for the company. LX and S models have a familiar 2.4-liter inline-four which make 185 horsepower in 2018 models. A 1.6-liter turbo shows up on the EX with 178 horses, while the top-tier SX finds a 245 hp 2.0-liter turbo stuffed between its front fenders. Everything is four valves per cylinder, dual overhead cam, and regular unleaded friendly.

Bending this author’s (admittedly foggy) brain, Kia choose to pair a six-speed automatic with the 2.4 and 2.0T motors but hook a seven-speed dual-clutch unit to the 1.6T engine. I would have thought the DCT would appear on the S and SX trims, as they are sporty and most expensive flavors, respectively. This is why I am neither an engineer nor in product planning.

Kia’s UVO telematics system, whose name sounds like a bottled artisan water or overpriced vodka, shows up on all trims and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto — even on the base LX. Optima owners moving beyond the entry level will find UVO Link, technology which allows for maintenance reminders, plus geofencing and speed alerts so parents can annoy new teenage drivers.

Today’s Optima lineup starts at $22,600 for an LX model equipped with the naturally aspirated four cylinder. Expect prices to move northward slightly, as they do almost every year for almost every automaker, but Kia’s rep for value will likely ensure the Monroney won’t move too far.

Last year, the Optima sold 107,493 copies, about 24,000 units fewer than its cousin Hyundai Sonata first cousin. This pair, along with the Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion, trail the Nissan Altima and Honda Accord. The Toyota Camry, unsurprisingly, vanquishes all its rivals with total sales last year hitting 387,081 units.

[Images: Kia Motors]

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  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Apr 02, 2018

    If they put that interior in the Stinger I would look at one, as long as you can turn of the artificial engine sounds.

  • Bd2 Bd2 on Apr 02, 2018

    The next gen Optima needs to recapture the magic of its predecessor sheetmetal-wise, instead of existing in bland-ville. Should also get a major upgrade in driving dynamics and eventually power (with H/K's next gen turbo-4 engines). Surprised that for this refresh, Kia didn't opt to upgrade to the 8 spd AT for the top-level motor.

  • Kcflyer on one hand it at least wont have dirty intake valves like Honda's entire lineup of direct injection ice vehicles. on the other hand a CRV offers more room, more range, faster fueling and lower price, hmm
  • Tassos BTW I thought this silly thing was always called the "Wienermobile".
  • Tassos I have a first cousin with same first and last name as my own, 17 years my junior even tho he is the son of my father's older brother, who has a summer home in the same country I do, and has bought a local A3 5-door hatch kinds thing, quite old by now.Last year he told me the thing broke down and he had to do major major repairs, replace the whole engine and other stuff, and had to rent a car for two weeks in a touristy location, and amazingly he paid more for the rental ( Euro1,500, or $1,650-$1,700) than for all the repairs, which of course were not done at the dealer (I doubt there was a dealer there anyway)
  • Tassos VW's EV program losses have already been horrific, and with (guess, Caveman!) the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory growing by leaps and bounds, the future was already quite grim for VW and the VW Group.THis shutdown will not be so temporary.The German Government may have to reach in its deep pockets, no matter how much it hates to spend $, and bail it out."too big to fail"?
  • Billccm I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.