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- Comfortable ride
- Numerous engine options
- Straightforward interior layout
- Compelling value
- Perfect safety scores
- Competitors are starting to look better
- Lagging 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
- Compromised rear-seat head room for some
- We’d like better fuel economy
The 2018 Kia Optima returns with a new sportier trim and wide-ranging flexibility for a compelling price.
The 2018 Kia Optima represents what we like best in mid-size sedans: good features, handsome styling, admirable safety, and compelling value. Yeah, we don’t know what’s not to like either.
This year, Kia added a sportier trim level to the Optima and made standard some common-sense safety features that boost its already impressive official scores.
The 2018 Kia Optima earns a 7.4 on our overall scale, which reflects our high opinion of its safety performance (it’s one of the few cars to ace our scale), and its overall style. Its performance and comfort are the only places for improvement, but it’s worth noting that the Optima is still above average in both respects. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Take a walk around a Kia lot and you’re likely to find the usual suspects for the Optima—a budget-friendly Optima LX that starts at $23,395, including destination, all the way to the fully loaded Optima SX for $31,395.
Wedged in the middle for this year is a new Optima S trim that adds a sportier look: a new front bumper, rear decklid spoiler, 17-inch wheels, and a dual-pane sunroof for $24,395.
Across all models this year, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking assistance are now standard, which shore up some of our concerns that active safety features were being kept from all but the most expensive models.
A relatively large number of powertrain options await Optima shoppers, not including Optima Hybrid models that we cover separately.
Up and down the range, the 2018 Kia Optima is powered by a bevy of inline-4 options, including some turbocharged options. The base 2.4-liter inline-4 is found on Optima LX and the new S trim level, a 1.4-liter turbo-4 is optional on the LX trim, and a 2.0-liter turbo-4 is found on pricier SX trims. All models are front-wheel drive and manage combined fuel economy at 25 mpg or higher.
All models benefit from a good ride and handling setup, which makes the Optima comfortable, if not particularly sporty.