2019 Kia Optima Introduction

The 2019 Kia Optima is the brand’s family-sized sedan. Now in its fourth year on the road in its current version, it’s updated this year with new bumpers and wheels. Inside, the Optima SX offers optional red-and-black leather upholstery, while the SXL is available with bronze-and-black Nappa leather. More significant is the addition of automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and lane-departure warnings as standard equipment on every model except the two hybrids.

There are four available gas engines, one coupled to hybrid technology. The LX and S models use a 2.4-liter 185-horsepower 4-cylinder mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The EX takes a 1.6-liter turbo-4 making 178 hp with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, while the SX comes with a zippy 2.0-liter turbo and 6-speed automatic.

The Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid come in EX trim only, using a 4-cylinder engine paired with batteries and an electric motor. They are only sold in the western states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

The 2.4-liter engine is the most popular, with an EPA rating of 24 mpg city, 33 highway, 27 combined in the S model. With more efficient tires and less standard equipment, the Optima LX gets better fuel economy, at 25/35/29 mpg.

The 1.6-liter turbo in the EX earns EPA ratings of 27/37/31 mpg. The 2.0-liter turbo in the SX makes more horsepower, and its fuel economy reflects that, dropping to 21/30/24 mpg.

Naturally the hybrids do better. The Optima Hybrid delivers 39/45/41 mpg, while the Plug-In Hybrids are rated at 40 mpg combined, or a better 103 MPGe with a full battery charge. In electric-only mode the Plug-in Hybrid delivers nearly 29 miles of battery-only driving range.

The safety scores are impressive. The NHTSA gives the 2019 Optima five stars overall for crash protection, with five stars in every test save four stars for front passengers. The IIHS gives it the top “Good” score in every test, including (importantly and rarely) headlight performance, which makes the 2019 Optima a Top Safety Pick+.

Kia fits every non-hybrid Optima with forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, parking sensors, active lane control, and automatic high beams. Adaptive cruise control is standard on EX and SX, while a surround-view camera system is optional on the SX.

The Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid leave automatic emergency braking on the options list.

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