- Roomy interior
- Spacious trunk
- Easy maneuverability
- Conservative, anonymous styling
- Dull interior materials
- Anti-lock brakes not available on the base model
- No satellite radio or Bluetooth interface
The 2008 Kia Optima doesn't perform as well as other mid-size sedans, but its roomy package and generous features make it a strong practical choice.
The 2008 Kia Optima is a mid-size sedan slotting into the automaker's lineup between the Spectra small sedan and larger, more luxurious Amanti. Redesigned in 2006, the front-wheel-drive Optima sedan carries through into 2008 with both four- and six-cylinder models.
The standard 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine produces 161 horsepower, while the optional 2.7-liter V-6 is good for 185 hp. A five-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic manual shift capability is standard on most 2008 Kia Optima models.
An improved, smoother-shifting five-speed manual transmission is standard on the base 2008 Kia Optima LX four-cylinder model. With the automatic transmission, there's not much of a difference in performance between the two models, except the four-cylinder engine can get coarse under hard acceleration. At 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, its fuel economy is also slightly better than with the V-6.
The 2008 Kia Optima has a pleasant ride, though larger bumps can be jarring; it also handles well in routine city driving, with a crisp, responsive steering feel, but it doesn't maintain its poise on fast, curvy back roads.
Even though it's a bit shorter overall than many other mid-size sedans, the 2008 Kia Optima has one of the roomiest cabins in its segment, with good backseat legroom and headroom. The big 14.8-cubic-foot trunk has a wide opening.
The base LX comes standard with cruise control, keyless entry and alarm, manual tilt and telescopic steering column, audio system controls on the steering wheel, and floor mats. The 2008 Kia Optima LX V-6 model adds dual exhaust outlets and alloy wheels.
Top-of-the-line 2008 Kia Optima EX models (four-cylinder and V-6 versions) feature alloy wheels, fog lights, solar glass, an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, automatic temperature control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a trip computer, metal door scuff plates, chrome-accent outside door handles, and an Infinity AM/FM/six-disc CD/MP3 premium audio system; the EX V-6 adds dual exhaust outlets. An iPod jack is new for the Optima's sound systems.
The 2008 Kia Optima has top five-star results from the federal government in both frontal and side impact tests, along with a "good" rating in frontal impact and an "acceptable" rating in side impact from the insurance-affiliated IIHS. Standard safety equipment includes front and front seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and active front headrests. Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control are available together as a packaged option on all but the base model.