2003 Kia Optima Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Kia Optima Sedan


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Kia Optima Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 138 hp @ 5500 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2003 Kia Optima

  • The Optima may trail Japanese competitors when it comes to overall polish, but those seeking a well-equipped sedan will find this Kia appealing.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Excellent warranty, pleasant highway ride, lots of bang for your family sedan buck.

  • Cons

    Noisy four-cylinder engine, some cheap interior bits, ABS isn't available on four-cylinder models.

  • What's New for 2003

    The Optima gets several revisions for its third year on the market. Most obvious is its new front-end styling, which replaces the…

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (20 total reviews)

If i could only have

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Kia Optima SE 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

I bought my KIA with only 3,000 miles on it in late 2004. It was great until I ran out of warranty time, once that happened the car started falling apart. The timing belt went at less than 70,000 miles causing me to replace the whole engine (in 2010). For the past 2 years the car has decided to cut down when I am driving. It spent 3 months in a KIA Dealership repair shop and they still do not know what is wrong with it. How can a KIA Repair shop not know how to fix its own cars? They now say I need to spend another $1200 just to see "If that is the real problem." I loved my car during the first 5 years, but I wish I could go back and traded it at 4 years.

Life saver

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Kia Optima SE 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

My Kia was my first car after turning 16. I liked he car a lot and it was very practical as a first car. The thing I will remember most is that this car saved my life. I totaled it through a light pole and into the trees at about 70 mph. I made out without a scratch because of the incredible safety of this car. I had heard that Kia's has low crash test ratings but this car proved them wrong by saving my life.

Great car - couple small

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Kia Optima SE 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A)

I love my car. In the 7 years I have had it there has only been a few issues. The alternator went, but that was covered. Same with the switch for my power seat. My biggest issue is with the locks! Had it fixed when the car was 5 yrs old. covered. But now the same issue. When I go to open the door (passenger) all the doors will lock. Now the door will not open at all. The dealer want $360. Guess my passengers will have to crawl through the window for now. Over all I have spent $500 in 7 years other than brakes and tires. Still have the original battery even.

Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2003 Kia Optima Review

What's New for 2003

The Optima gets several revisions for its third year on the market. Most obvious is its new front-end styling, which replaces the Optima's reserved countenance with a more upscale European look -- double light clusters call to mind the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Other changes include new wheel designs, and inside, a new center stack, new door panels and fresh seat fabric. A manual transmission will no longer be available on the four-cylinder SE model; all automatic four-cylinder models will offer Sportmatic manual-shift capability. The LX model now comes with cruise control and a CD player (at the expense of the cassette deck). The SE will include automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Homelink and Infinity speakers; a wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel is now part of the Leather Package. Lastly, engine horsepower ratings have been lowered following parent-company Hyundai's announcement that it had misstated outputs (the Optima is a corporate twin of the Sonata), but the engines themselves are unchanged.

Talk About The 2003 Optima

2003 Kia Optima Discussions See all Started By

Optima Reports Its Best Month Ever Leading Kia to a 51.3-Percent Increase In Month-Over-Month Sales...

I wanted a manual transmission and liked the Optima since seeing it at the 2010 S.F. Auto Show. Mostly, manual transmissions are only offered on base models with many manufacturers, including on th...

anyway. The engine in the prior generation Optima is the Hyundai "Delta" 2.7L all aluminum V6. I have no idea about the difficulty in changing out the Sonata/Optima's V6 engine timing bel...