The Optima may not have the most powerful lineup of engines, but the mid-size sedan impresses with above average handling and a smooth ride. And it’s not like the engines are underpowered either. The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission and is a fine engine, producing 185 hp. While the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder is geared toward fuel economy, it’s 178 hp is nothing to sneer at. For maximum performance, the SX’s bespoke turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is the best bet, generating 245 hp. Despite being the most powerful motor in the lineup, the engine doesn’t require a lot of compromise at the pumps, capable of getting up to 21/30/24 mpg (city/highway/combined).
Sure, the Optima has a more aggressive look for 2019, but don’t expect to get into the vehicle and be treated to a sporty ride. The sedan still errs toward being a comfortable daily-driver, which isn’t a bad thing – it’s just that the more athletic exterior design makes you yearn for a sportier ride. Every Optima comes with a drive select mode that lets you choose between Comfort, Eco, or Sport, but that mainly alters the powertrain and steering feel. The ride remains comfortable regardless of what mode you’re in.
Handling is better than the majority of other mid-size sedans, as the Optima, especially in the range-topping SX trim, exhibits minimal body roll and a decent amount of feedback through the steering wheel. The transmissions also help the Optima’s case, as both gearboxes offer quick shifts. Opting for the EX brings the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, which has some tendencies to hesitate at low speeds.