How Does the Kia Optima Compare to Other Luxury Sedans?

By Scott KingLast Updated Sep 22, 2020 6:52:46 PM ET
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Photo Courtesy: Brantford Kia/YouTube

The Kia Optima has been around for almost two decades, and it has continued to serve buyers as an affordable luxury sedan. The roomy interior and gentle ride make for easy driving, and with excellent reliability ratings, you can rest easy in the knowledge that your vehicle will continue to get the job done even years after the purchase.

The 2020 Optima is a good fit for parents looking for a practical and comfortable choice for their families or a safe and dependable car for a new teen driver. However, with so many other options out there, is it really the best choice for you? Read on for a look at what you can expect from an Optima as well as how it compares to the other popular luxury sedans, like the Toyota Camry and the Honda Civic.

Comparing Specs

The 2020 Kia Optima gets up to 27 miles per gallon in the city and up to 37 mpg on the highway. It comes equipped with convenient features like an 8-inch touchscreen, remote commands, standard wireless charging on most models and a smart infotainment system. The latter system also connects Apple and Android phones to the Optima's six-speaker audio system.

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Photo Courtesy: Raiti's Rides/YouTube

Critics have praised the Optima for its attractive styling, diverse engine options and excellent safety ratings, including driver-assistance technology to keep you safe. With a heated steering wheel and front seats, plenty of legroom and a panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, it also offers passengers a quality riding experience. A 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission on even basic models ensures smooth and easy driving even over rough pavement.

Safety Features

Optimas have a reputation for safety, with the 2019 model earning an IHHS Top Safety Pick+ Award and the 2020 model winning U.S. News & World’s Best New Car for Teens award. Among other features, the Traction Control System (TCS) helps reduce or prevent wheel spin when the car accelerates, while its hill-start assist control (HAC) help to keep the vehicle in place as a driver moves off an incline.

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Photo Courtesy: Raiti's Rides/YouTube

Additionally, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) helps drivers with consistent braking in situations where the car's weight distribution changes. The brake assist system (BAS) provides automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping and high-beam assistance, pedestrian detection and more.

The Different Optimas

As with most car models, the 2020 Kia Optima comes with various trim levels. The base Kia Optima LX, retailing for $23,390, comes with the features mentioned previously along with rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors. The Kia Optima S is a little more sporty, with slightly different interior styling but the same powertrain as the LX. It also adds proximity keyless entry with a push-button start. The SE comes with those same features, along with a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower.

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Photo Courtesy: Sean McLaren P/YouTube

Starting at $27,190, the more luxurious Kia Optima EX has a unique powertrain (1.6-liter turbocharged engine), leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control, more charging ports and other nice features. The premium package, which adds on an extra $3,000 to the price tag, provides navigation with UVO link telematics, an upgraded 10-speaker stereo and ventilated front seats. T

Finally, the gas-powered Kia Optima SX Turbo is the most expensive model at $32,190, and it comes with the works. In addition to everything in the premium package of the Optima EX, the SX comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, heated & ventilated front power seats with driver's memory, sound-absorbing front door windows and a smart trunk that opens automatically with your smart key when the driver stands behind the car. It also has two-tone red and black seats available for those who need a flashier ride.


Sizing Up the Competition

The Optima does have some downsides that you should consider before purchasing. Although praised for its front space, the back seat of the Optima is smaller than some of its competitors, while hybrid Optimas have less available trunk space. The downward-sloping roofline that gives the Optima its distinctive shape also cuts into the headroom for passengers in the back seat, making it a more complicated choice for families with teenagers that will be in back. The low-positioned dash vents can also blow more air on the driver's hands than face, which can be a problem in the hot summer months.

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Photo Courtesy: TheVideopreneur/YouTube

While the Optima is a solid car, it also doesn’t have a monopoly on great features. For example, the Toyota Camry’s V6 engine is more powerful than the Optima’s, making it a better choice for drivers who care about performance. It also boasts a better fuel economy and an even smoother ride. Similarly, the Honda Accord also boasts 18-inch alloys in the wheel arches, two inches bigger than the Optima's, as well as a bigger multimedia touchscreen with better software.


Which vehicle is best for you will ultimately depend on your own needs and situation. While the Optima is an excellent car, you’re not without options.