2019 Kia Optima Review: After a Week With the Vehicle

2019 Optima SX. Photo Courtesy of Kia Media
2019 Optima SX. Photo Courtesy of Kia Media /

Can a refreshed Kia Optima compete in a tough sedan segment when people are buying crossovers and SUVs?

Kia‘s Optima looked a little bit stale compared to the new for 2018 Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Even the Hyundai Sonata received some updates for the 2018 model year, so the Optima was left out. That changes for the 2019 model year.

The 2019 Kia Optima received some minor updates designed to keep the car relevant, including some new lights, some trim level interior upgrades, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, attention assist, and some infotainment upgrades.

I was able to take the 2019 Kia Optima for a week-long spin to see just how good the car was and if these changes would make much of a difference.

A Stylish Sedan with a Comfy and Sophisticated Interior

The Optima was never an ugly car, and the 2019 model year continues on as a stylish sedan. The car features good proportions, a sleek roofline, and Kia’s tiger nose grille. It’s a contemporary style that does a good job of standing out a little bit without looking too outlandish.

2019 Optima SX
2019 Optima SX. Photo courtesy of Kia Media /

The interior of the car features higher-quality materials than I expected. The red leather seats were comfortable and soft, there was plenty of soft-touch materials throughout the cabin, and even the plastic that was there felt solid and not too cheap.

The overall interior design is well-laid-out and the infotainment system is extremely easy to use. I think Kia and Hyundai are two brands that do an excellent job integrating features like Apple Carplay and Android Auto into their infotainment systems. All the features are easy to access and use.

Actually Fun to Drive Despite its Everyday Purpose

2019 Optima SX
2019 Optima SX. Photo courtesy of Kia Media /

If you want an everyday sedan that’s practical, looks good, and is comfy, the 2019 Kia Optima fits the bill. One thing that surprised me about this car is its performance. It’s actually fun to drive.

There are other competitors out there that do a little bit better of a job when it comes to performance. I’ve driven the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Hyundai Sonata, and they’re all probably a little bit better on the road than the Kia, but I might actually buy the key over them, especially in SX trim.

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The SX trim comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that makes 245 hp. It’s not a monster of an engine but it delivers power authoritatively and is plenty powerful enough for everyday driving. If you want a high-performance car, look elsewhere, but the Kia does a darn good job at providing plenty of power.

It handles well, too. It’s no Miata, and Honda’s Accord or Mazda‘s 6 do a better job in the twisties, but it feels good, and unless you overcook it into a corner you’re not going to be hit with horrible understeer. I found the Optima to be a really nice drive. I was sad to see it go.

If you looked at the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry and decided they weren’t for you, I’d give the Optima a serious look if you still want a midsize car. It’s a quality machine and one you can be proud to drive.

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It will be interesting to see if Kia can compete with Honda and Toyota due to all the press than the Accord and Camry have gotten in the past year.