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2019 Kia Optima SX Review by John Heilig - It's E15 Approved

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2019 Kia Optima SX
ENGINE: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 245 hp @ 6,000 rpm/260 lb.-ft. @ 1,350-4,000 rpm
WHEELBASE: 110.4 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 191.1 x 73.2 x 57.7 in.
TIRES: P235/45R18
CARGO CAPACITY: 15.9 cu. ft. 
CURB WEIGHT: 3,558 lbs.
TOWING CAPACITY: Not recommended
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Compare Side By Side Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat, Mazda6, Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Buick Regal, Acura ILX
STICKER: $32,820 (includes $920 delivery)
BOTTOM LINE: Except for a noisy engine at all speeds, the Kia Optima is a quality mid-sized sedan.

There’s a slew of mid-sized sedans on the market, some of which are really extended compact sedans. The Kia Optima, virtual brother to the Hyundai Sonata, is one of the true mid-sizers. The Optima has  plenty of interior room and is a nice driving car.

Up front, let me say that I was disappointed in the engine. It seems every manufacturer these days is using 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines, either turbocharged or naturally aspirated. This makes it easy to compare apples and apples.

Well, the Optima’s apples make a lot of noise, especially on acceleration. The engine emits a constant low roar that can be very annoying. That, combined with significant road noise that creeps into the cabin can be tiring. For example, the Optima is not designed for concrete road surfaces. Asphalt, especially new asphalt, is fine.

That said, the Optima is a good mid-sized sedan with all the amenities you’d expect from a vehicle in this segment. Ride quality is good for its class.

Front seats are comfortable with some side support. The SX trim level we tested had “European-style sport leather seating,” with red and black trim. In addition, the SX has power adjustable front seats standard, so finding the perfect comfort level is easy. 

Rear seats offer excellent leg room. The seats echo the front seats’ red-and-black trim. A low center hump makes it possible for a passenger to sit in the middle of the rear without too much discomfort. 

Kia’s UVO telematics and infotainment system makes it easy to stay connected. UVO includes Apple Car Play and Android Auto. As installed on the SX, UVO link with navigation adds My POIs and Map Care which allows for two free map updates per year. The infotainment system includes the standard assortment of choices. The default screen is a map on the left and audio/visual on the right with a digital clock and calendar across the top and menus on the bottom.

Additionally, Kia’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) include a forward collision warning system that is designed to detect potential collisions with vehicles in front of the Optima. Driver Attention Warning monitors the driver and will provide visual and audio alerts if it senses that the driver’s attention level has been reduced. Lane Keep Assist can apply corrective steering, and Lane Departure Warning warns the driver if it detects that the vehicle is deviating from the intended lane. There is also a blind spot monitor and a rear cross traffic alert.

The instrument cluster is clear with white and black instruments and red pointers. The wheel is busy with controls, but is easy to use. 

Interior storage consists of, among other things, a large cubby at the base of the center stack with two 12-volt outlets plus AUX and USB. there’s an additional square cubby next to the shifter that is ideal for keys and/or a phone.

In the rear is a good trunk. Rear seat back releases are in the trunk and create a flat cargo area when lowered. Plus, with the good leg room there is room for additional storage on the rear floor.  Optima is a good mid-size sedan with the advantage of great rear leg room . Even teenagers don’t complain. Sadly, it suffers from a noisy engine.

(c) 2019 The Auto Page Syndicate

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