2018 Kia Optima Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
September 29, 2017


The 2018 Kia Optima returns with a new sportier trim and wide-ranging flexibility for a compelling price.

The 2018 Kia Optima plays to its base. It improves on all the things that we liked from last year—sharp-ish looks, great safety, and tremendous value—but it's still a sedan after all.

This year's sportier trim and common-sense safety features that help it ace our safety test may get lost on buyers who are racing toward crossovers. Slow down and look at sedans like the Optima, we'd say.

The 2018 Kia Optima earns a 7.4 on our overall scale, which reflects our high opinion of its safety and 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.) 

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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.

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October 27, 2017
2018 Kia Optima SX Automatic

Another great Optima from KIA

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I have had a 2004 Optima, bland styling but very reliable. I then had/have a 2011 Optima, great new style with all the bells and whistles...also very reliable and fun to drive. While still owning the 2011, I... + More »
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MSRP based on LX Automatic
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Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 10
Features 7
Fuel Economy 7
Best in Mid-Size Cars
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2018 Kia Optima Pricing Insights

  • 2017 Optima harder to find; 2018s are here
  • Bonus: Up to $4,000 cash back on 2017s
  • Finance: 0.0% plus $1,000 cash on 2017s
  • Lease: From $189 for 36 months on 2017s
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