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2018 Kia Optima

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Used Car Price Range
$7,888 - $15,862
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2018 LX 4dr Sedan
most popular
Price:   -  From $22,600
2018 S 4dr Sedan Price:   -  From $23,600
2018 LX Turbo 4dr Sedan Price:   -  From $24,400
2018 EX 4dr Sedan Price:   -  From $25,700
2018 SX Turbo 4dr Sedan Price:   -  From $30,600
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Our expert ratings are based on seven comprehensive criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.

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The Kia Optima exemplifies the South Korean brand's transition from bargain-basement oddity to serious market-wide contender. And for 2018, the Optima continues to stand toe-to-toe with anything in the midsize sedan segment in exterior and cabin aesthetics, standard and optional equipment and on-road performance, feel, and fuel economy.

What's New for 2018

Kia is introducing a sporty Optima S with the base 2.4-liter engine and killing last year's range-topping model, the SX Limited, instead offering a Limited Package on the turbocharged SX. Lesser changes include a standard seven-inch UVO infotainment system, blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, and rear parking assist on all models. Individual trims receive minor equipment tweaks.

Kia Optima

Choosing Your Kia Optima

Apart from the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models that are covered elsewhere, the front-wheel drive Optima sedan is available with one of three four-cylinder engines coupled to either a six-speed automatic or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The base engine is a naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter inline-four that puts out 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed automatic. EPA ratings vary slightly over the three trim levels in which it’s offered, from 25 miles per gallon city, 36 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined in the entry-level LX and 24/34/28 in the better-equipped Optima S and EX trims.

Those seeking greater fuel-efficiency will find it in the center of the Optima range. As its name implies, the LX 1.6T features a 178-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The smaller, turbocharged engine and efficient seven-speed dual-clutch transmission return EPA ratings of 28/37/31.

The peak of the Optima line in both price and power is the SX 2.0T. While the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four coupled to a six-speed automatic loses in the EPA game at 22/31/25, it does so while producing an impressive 245 hp and 260 lb-ft. Unsurprisingly, it's the quickest and fastest of the bunch.

The Optima line comprises five trim levels:

Kia Optima

EX 2.4L

The $26,495 EX 2.4L marks the engine’s last appearance in the Optima hierarchy, and the only appearance of “regular” leather upholstery. Designed to serve as the most luxurious non-sporting Optima model, it fills the role well with a 10-way power driver’s seat with 4-way power lumbar adjustment, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear A/C vents, heated front seats, satin chrome inside door handles and accents, a pair of rapid-charge USB ports, and push-button start.

The frosting appears on the exterior as well, including 17-inch alloys, LED running lights and taillights, power folding exterior mirrors, the Smart Key keyless entry system and the perfectly-named Smart Trunk which will pop open on its own just by sensing you standing near it for a few seconds with the Smart Key in your pocket. But those aren't the only premium toys you can get on your Optima. The rest, however, costs dearly.

The EX Premium Package, for instance, is $2,300, but that adds a 10-way power front passenger’s seat with power lumbar adjustments to match the driver’s side, ventilation for both seats to supplement the heating, the previously-mentioned panoramic sunroof package, ventilated front seats, and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.

Once the Premium Package is paid for a $3,000 EX Technology Package can be had. It includes an eight-inch touchscreen navigation display unit with real-time SiriusXM traffic, a 630-watt, 10-speaker Harman/Kardon surround audio system, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, an electronic parking brake, and auto-dimming headlamps.

Kia Optima

SX 2.0T

The SX 2.0T starts at $31,395, although it starts with everything on the EX 2.4L and then adds the Premium Package. Beyond that, there's a sport-tuned suspension, unique 18-inch alloys, LED headlights that bend around turns, LED taillights, sport bumpers, chrome “Turbo” front fender garnish, paddle shifters, and black leather upholstery with red stitching.

Like the EX, there are only two options to choose from: the $3,000 SX Turbo Technology Package that's identical to the EX Technology Package and with that box checked, the $2,100 SX Turbo Limited Package, which offers three Nappa leather upholstery packages – Black, Ivory or Aubergine (a brownish purple) – with silver contrast stitching for the instrument panel and front and rear upper door trim, as well as a black suede headliner and pillar covers. Functional features include a leather-wrapped, D-shaped, heated steering wheel with perforated stitching and paddle shifters, heated outboard rear seats, rear side window sunshades, an around-view camera monitor and, since they apparently had some left over from last year’s SX Limited model, an “SXL” emblem.

CarsDirect Tip

Unsurprisingly, the range-topping SX 2.0T is the best of the bunch, and can be had with everything Kia offers, including many SX exclusives. But premium products come with premium price tags, and the SX is no different. Those looking to save money both at sale time and at the pump should look hard at the new S 2.4L model as for not much more than the base model you get access to its unique sport-oriented packages and features otherwise found only on the apex SX. As with last year, though, the EX remains the best value in the Optima range.

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Automotive Editor
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Expert Review

Expert Rating

Our expert ratings are based on seven comprehensive criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.

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Contributing Writer

The 2018 Kia Optima, last re-designed in 2016, is one of the better-looking offerings in the highly-competitive midsize sedan class. In addition to a list of standard features that continue to make it a solid value, the 2018 model gets a sportier-looking new S trim level.

Best Value

Kia Optima

Although it sits near the top of the lineup, the best Kia Optima value is the EX model that features a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder. The starting price of $31,395 includes leather seats (heated in front), dual-zone automatic climate control, LED daytime running lights and taillights, and 17-inch wheels.

Moving up to the EX also offers buyers the choice of two option packages that offer everything from a panoramic sunroof to a slew of advanced active safety features

  • Model: 2018 Kia Optima EX
  • Engine: 2.4-liter four-cylinder
  • Output: 185 hp / 178 lb-ft
  • MPG: 24 City / 34 Hwy
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Exterior color: Titanium Silver
  • Interior color: Black Leather
  • Options: Premium Package ($2,300, panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, power front passenger seat, LED front and rear reading lights, auto-dimming rearview mirror), Technology Package ($3,000, navigation, Harmon/Kardon surround sound, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams)
  • Base Price: $26,495 (including $895 destination charge)
  • As Tested: $31,795

Performance Pros

  • The Optima's balanced ride and crisp handling are above average for the midsize sedan class
  • All models feature three selectable drive modes – eco, normal, and sport.
  • A new steering system for 2018 offers better feedback – especially when cornering.

Performance Cons

  • The 1.6-liter turbo's seven-speed dual clutch automatic hesitates between gears and shifts roughly.
  • Softer ride translates into more body lean in corners than previous versions.
  • With a minimum EPA-estimated 25 miles per gallon combined the Optima, though hardly thirsty, isn't as fuel efficient as a number of its competitors.

Interior Pros

  • Interior fit and finish – even in base models – is above average for the midsize class.
  • The infotainment system, with a number of redundant knobs and buttons, is easy to operate, even for novice users.
  • The front seats offer good side support, plenty of leg room and, on some models, diamond-pattern leather that's typically found only on high-end luxury vehicles.

Interior Cons

  • All trims are quiet, but you have to opt for the most expensive SX model to get the best sound insulation.
  • Due to the sloping roofline, there's barely enough head room in back to accommodate six-footers.
  • The current dashboard layout isn't as driver-oriented as it once was, and reaching for the infotainment touchscreen might be a stretch for some drivers.

Our Favorite Thing

Kia Optima

Even as newer models come to market, the Optima's interior fit and finish remains well above average in the midsize class.

Our Least Favorite Thing

Although a rear view camera, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking assistance are all standard, advanced features like adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warning are only available as part of expensive option packages on the top two trim levels.

Right For

Families – In an era when families are flocking to crossover SUVs, the Optima's comfortable ride, wide variety of engines, quality interior, and budget-friendly fuel economy make it a compelling alternative choice for a family hauler.

Wrong For

Safety Focused – It's hard to justify paying for a top trim Optima, then an extra $3,000 or $5,000 just to get the same advanced active safety features that are now standard equipment on the Toyota Camry.

The Bottom Line

Slick styling, class-above interior quality, great value, and a smooth, quiet ride make the 2018 Kia Optima a solid offering in the midsize class.

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Specs & Features

Overall Crash Safety Rating
Engine - Cylinders/Horsepower/Torque
2.4L I-4 / 185 HP / 178 ft.lbs.
6-spd Sportmatic w/OD
Drive Type
Fuel Economy - City/Highway/Combined
25 / 36 / 30 Mpg
Passenger Capacity
Bumper to Bumper Warranty
60 Months / 60,000 Miles
Mechanical Specs
Engine - Cylinders/Horsepower/Torque
2.4L I-4 / 185 HP / 178 ft.lbs.
Drive Type
Fuel Economy - City/Hwy/Combined
25 / 36 / 30 Mpg
4-wheel Disc
Front Suspension
Rear Suspension
Independent Multi-link
Spare Tire And Wheel
Fuel Tank
18.5 Gal.
Recommended Fuel Type
Regular Unleaded
Average Cost To Fill Tank
Dimensions & Capabilities
Maximum Cargo Volume
15.9 Cu.ft.
Passenger Volume
105 Cu.ft.
Exterior Length
191.1 "
Exterior Width
73.2 "
Exterior Height
57.7 "
Front Headroom
39.8 "
Rear Headroom
37.8 "
Front Legroom
45.5 "
Rear Legroom
35.6 "
Front Shoulder Room
58.1 "
Rear Shoulder Room
56.4 "
Front Hip Room
Rear Hip Room
Curb Weight
3,219 Lbs.
Wheel Base
110 "
Turning Radius
Exterior Features
Door Count
4 Doors
16.0 " Silver Aluminum / 17.0 " Silver Aluminum
Clearcoat Monotone / Monotone / Pearlcoat Monotone
Exterior Mirrors
Dual Power Remote Heated
Grille Moldings
Black W/chrome Surround
Rear Spoiler
Stainless Steel With Chrome Tailpipe Finish
Interior Features
Passenger Capacity
Seat Trim
Yes Essentials Premium Cloth
Front Seat Type
Heated Front Seats
Front Driver Seat Direction Controls
6-way / (8-way Power)
Front Passenger Seat Direction Controls
Front Armrests
6-way / (8-way Power)
Rear Armrests
Rear Seats
60-40 Bench
Radio & Infotainment
Siriusxm Am/fm/satellite, Clock, Seek-scan / Clock
Radio Steering Wheel Controls
Apple Car Play
Android Auto
Bluetooth w/ Hands-Free Connectivity
Convenience Features
Steering Wheel Type
Telescopic Tilt
Climate Control
Cruise Control
With Steering Wheel Controls
Sun Roof
Rearview Mirror
Day-night / Auto-dimming Day-night
One Touch Open Window
Driver / Driver And Passenger
Tinted Windows
Vanity Mirrors
Dual Illuminated
Remote Keyless Entry
Keyfob (all Doors)
Power Outlets
Safety Features
Overall Crash Safety Rating
Overall Front Crash Safety Rating
Overall Side Crash Safety Rating
Rollover Crash Safety Rating
Front Impact Airbags
Driver And Passenger
Driver Side Impact Airbags
Seat Mounted
Knee Airbag
Passenger Side Impact Airbag
Seat Mounted
Rear Side Airbag
Seatbelt Pretensioners
Anti-Lock Brakes
4-wheel Anti-lock Brakes (abs)
Forward Collision Warning
Blind Spot Sensor
Blind Spot Detection (bsd) Blind Spot
Lane Departure Warning
Autonomous Cruise Control
Pedestrian Detection
Driver Attention Alert
Daytime Running Lights
Auto High Beams
Adaptive Headlights
Parking Sensors
Security Systems
Security System
Panic Alarm
Ignition Disable
Bumper To Bumper Months Miles
60 Months / 60,000 Miles
Major Components Months
120 Months / 100,000 Miles
Included Maintenance Months
Roadside Assistance Months
60 Months / 60,000 Miles
Corrosion Perforation
60 Months / 100,000 Miles
Accessories Months
60 Months / 60,000 Miles

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