Want value? Find a sedan. The 2020 Kia Optima is here to convince you that crossovers aren’t the answer to everything. The mid-size sedan does a great deal well, and often for less than an equivalent crossover.
The lineup starts under $25,000, and many buyers would be comfortable in the base Optima LX, which comes nicely equipped.
The Optima will look better than most crossovers, too. It was one of the early adopters of the fastback shape in a sedan. Although the market has caught on, the look still works here.
Features for all. The base LX is far from the only option – the Optima covers a wide range up to the luxurious SX. Buyers don’t need to spend too much to get features like heated seats and leather upholstery, and there’s a trim level for most everyone.
The Optima’s safety features further broaden its appeal. Every trim comes with a full suite of active safety tech, including automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane keeping assist. Even better, the Optima was awarded a Top Safety Pick Plus award from the IIHS, as long as it’s equipped with LED headlights.
To round things off, the infotainment comes with an 8-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Powertrains for all, too. One of the Optima’s biggest assets is the breadth of powertrains. In addition to the three gas-powered choices, the Optima can have come as a conventional hybrid or a plug-in. Either one will push efficiency above 40 miles per gallon combined, according to the EPA, and the plug-in hybrid has an electric range of 28 miles.
The downside is that hybrid variants are only available in the western U.S., and they’re still outpaced by thrifty rivals like the Honda Accord Hybrid.
But the gas engines aren’t shabby either. The base engine is quiet and smooth, and the 2.0-liter turbocharged unit found in the SX is a treat. We’re less thrilled with the transmission in the EX trim, but it does give extra passing power over the base.
All versions come with Kia’s long powertrain warranty. The one thing we miss? An all-wheel drive option.
Comfort and space (mostly). The Optima may not be able to match hatchbacks or utility vehicles in all aspects, but it’s practical enough for a sedan.
The front seats are spacious and supportive, and rear-seat passengers get a respectable 35.6 inches of legroom. That’s not quite as much as the Honda Accord, and the Optima’s racy roofline does cut into rear headroom slightly.
Cargo capacity is a strong 15.9 cubic feet, but that only applies to gas-powered Optimas. The hybrid cuts trunk space to 13.4 cubes, while plug-ins must make do with a measly 9.8 cubic feet
Final thoughts. With a few minor exceptions, the 2020 Kia Optima is firing on all cylinders. It covers a broad range of trims and powertrains, and nearly all of them offer excellent value.
Buyers who need all-wheel drive will have to look elsewhere, and rivals like the Honda Accord remain strong competitors. But with its good looks and excellent feature set, we think many buyers will enjoy the Optima.
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