By on March 30, 2018

2019 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.

2019 Optima

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.

2019 Optima

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.

2019 Optima

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.

2019 Optima

[Images: Kia Motors]

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27 Comments on “Mid-size Refresh: 2019 Kia Optima...”

  • avatar

    DCT Trans in the Kia and Hyundai stink as far as a trans. is concerned

    • 0 avatar

      Lousy shifting transmission, not durable, or both?

      My SIL has a 2012 Optima (off warranty) where the audio system amplifier failed and it cost him $800 in parts and $200 labor to fix. Mfgrs need to realize one incident like this that they won’t give some help on financially, and the customer is likely gone for good.

    • 0 avatar

      Lousy shifting transmission, not durable, or both?

      Trans failures later in life seem to be leading cause of scrappage these days.

    • 0 avatar

      Been improving the programming every year; hardly a complaint about the DCT doing its job in the Kona.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    What happened to Deadweight? Anybody know? He get banned for something crazy?

    How about the ‘do more drugs’ guy. No video postings from him.

  • avatar

    I’m not an L.A. or Kia fan, but I like the Dodger Blue paint.

  • avatar

    I have a 2012 Optima SX and it was my first foray into the Kia brand. 62k trouble-free miles to date and I am impressed with the brand that has come so far from their meager beginnings. I have not driven this new model but visually it is too similar to the model I own and unless they improved the driving dynamics (which can use some improving) I see no reason to consider this model when compared to its competitors like the newly released Accord. Honda took more of a risk with their redesign and I think to standout in this declining market you can’t play it so safe with styling.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Same here (13 Optima Hybrid), 69k miles, but nothing about this new model speaks to me.

      I will give good marks to the Hyundai Kia regular automatic, however.

    • 0 avatar

      This is a refresh, not an all-new model like Accord.

      • 0 avatar

        Think Coolcar meant this gen in comparison to his ’12MY.

        Going to disagree with Coolcar in some respects – there have been noticeable changes to the design when it comes to the headlights, taillights and greenhouse – all for the worse compared to the previous generation.

        The changes turned what was a “stunner” (for a midsize family sedan) into another rather drab midsize family sedan.

  • avatar

    Hmm not keen on two tone leather seats with pano roof. I whiff split n’ fade with age.

    Providing Altima all drive & CVT have no inherent weaknesses. It’s still gonna be a tough race here for KIA.

  • avatar

    The Chevy Malibu still exists, wow!

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    Not sure, so many great GM vehicles its hard to keep track of them all.

  • avatar

    It’s novel to see a car in this class that is colorful. Heck, it’s novel to see a car in any class that isn’t some shade of bleak despair.

  • avatar

    It’s nice to see that some manufacturers still have the “brow” on top of the windshield, not to mention an auto-dimming inside mirror which won’t conjure up visions of sicko, Stephen King-meets-Bozo clown faces staring down from the windshield!

    That said, I will still have sunglasses ready for instant deployment, and buy a HomeLink-equipped Gentex mirror with a rim and a normal shape to take with me into my next new car, and subsequent ones, before I risk HyundKia ownership — just a fear of the unknown, and from anecdotal evidence on here suggesting that interior durability is still a bit of a crapshoot.

  • avatar

    Nice to see some actual color to the exterior and interior. The 50 shades of gray and black lung interior insanity that we have been living with (suffering through) the past 18 miserable years is really getting old.

  • avatar

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

  • avatar

    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.

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