Danielle Villeneuve

Revitalized: 2019 Kia Optima SX

In a period where most buyers opt for crossovers big and small, Kia has refreshed their most popular sedan, the Optima. Although this generation debuted with its play-it-safe appearance in 2015, the 2019 shows a lot of promise with revitalized style.  A mid-cycle refresh may have been exactly what the doctor ordered.

2019 Kia Optima SX 1

Kia has been at the top of their game when it comes to styling. Their design department has placed emphasis on a sleek and distinctive look which after it’s redesign in 2015, it was certainly lacking. For 2019, the Optima was given redesigned front and rear bumpers, Stinger-like LED DRLs, updated headlights and taillights. Our tester, the most expensive and sportiest SX trim adds 18-inch wheels with black accents. The wheels along with the front splitter, rear spoiler and red brake calipers give off sporty vibes. The SX also adds black trim accents and a black roof. We could do without the “turbo” fender badges, however. Although sedans may not be the most popular thing going right now, the Optima is certainly one of the attractive options out there. It reminds us of another refreshed sedan with a more assertive style, the VW Passat GT.

2019 Kia Optima SX 7

Moving onto the interior of the Kia, you’re surrounded by the latest technology with convenient and easy-to-use controls. One thing that I’m always sure of when I get into a Kia is that I’ll know how to use the infotainment system. It’s straightforward and easy to use without having to navigate menu after menu. You’ll also find plenty of hard plastics, which cheapen the experience somewhat. Understanding that this is the top trim of a fairly affordable sedan and that most of the material were developed in 2015, it makes complete sense. The fact that I noticed at all is a testament to how upscale the rest of the car feels. Our tester even came with the optional black and red interior. Again, following through with a sporty feel, the Optima is equipped with sport seats, paddles and a flat bottomed steering wheel. If there is one true oddity, it’s that the driver and passenger windows are advertised as automatic, but they only go down automatically, not up. Nowadays the driver window is at least automatic both ways. It’s a tiny fix, Kia, but it’s 2019!

Although refreshed for 2019, the Optima still makes due with a six speed transmission. It’s a bit surprising they haven’t upgraded it to an eight speed yet. I tried the Optima in Sport mode and my fun balloon deflated rather quickly. The transmission cannot keep up; the shifts are too slow to make the turbo engine any fun. The 245hp and 260lb-ft of torque from it’s 2.0L turbo provide plenty of power. Despite its transmission, shifts are smooth and the Optima can get up and go when needed. Fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. It faired quite well throughout the week, getting on average 28 mpg with several stints nearing 31 mpg on long highway drives. When driving the new Optima, there’s no need to switch between driving modes. 2019 now adds a “Smart” driving mode. It monitors the person’s driving style and switches automatically between Sport, Comfort and Eco modes in order to provide the best balance between fuel economy and performance. We found it actually did a decent job, making it one of the smartest additions for this year.

2019 Kia Optima SX 3

The 2019 Optima SX is a nice blend of stylish and sporty daily driver for the person that has a family, but still like to have a little fun. Kia typically gives consumers a lot of bang for their buck and that’s no different here with the Optima SX. You get a lot of car for under $33,000, include everything from technology to creature comforts and safety features. The Optima has come full circle and although there are little things here and there that could benefit from some improvement, the pros list certainly outweighs the cons.

-Danielle Assenheimer

2019 Kia Optima SX
Destination Charges $920
As Tested MSRP $32,820


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