2008 Kia Optima Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2008 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 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 162 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 21/31 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2008 Kia Optima

  • Once a forgettable entry in the family sedan segment, the 2008 Kia Optima is now a solid choice thanks to many features, strong interior quality and impressive value.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Excellent crash scores, plenty of standard features at a low price, spacious backseat, generous warranty, surprisingly involving to drive around town.

  • Cons

    V6 offers little advantage over the more efficient inline-4, styling by the witness protection program, ABS not available on manual-shift LX model.

  • What's New for 2008

    An auxiliary audio jack is added to the 2008 Kia Optima.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (7 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

Great value!

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Vehicle: 2008 Kia Optima LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

Purchased the base Optima, 4 cyl., 5 speed manual. A lot of car for the money, purchased new last month, 6/2009, for $10,995! Sweet deal. Had 10 miles, now have 300, first tank of gas I received on 18 mpg! Mostly in town, getting use to manual transmission again! Previous review complained about passenger doors not operating from driver side. Turn key once to the right to unlock driver door, twice to unlock all doors! Small price to pay for an inexpensive, quality built vehicle!

New optima first 4 door

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Vehicle: 2008 Kia Optima LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

Well decided to try a KIA got my optima very base model only option "floormatts" so far I am impressed what you get as a base car,pwr windows, nice stereo w/cd player,pwr locks,a/c I just wish it had cruise control,I do not drive to much as I have a company car but I am in a new city and wanted a reliable car.I am suprised how peppy the car is and how the fit and finish seems above average.I expect this to be a great car excellent warranty I will be taking a 1000 mi trip soon and fully expect it will be a pleasure and very comfortable drive, I only have 195 mi on the car as of now BUT I expect to have the car for a long time to come and will report back. purchase price was 12,500 total

Wow, says it for me.

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Vehicle: 2008 Kia Optima LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

As with many people my bias toward Kia was negative based on second hand knowledge of prior year models BUT Wow, I am so far amazed. I gave the car a 9/10 on Interior only because I feel the plushness of the cloth seat fabric does not fully live up to the quality level of this car. I am impressed with how this car measures up to my test drives in similar Lexus, Toyota, Volvo, and Mazda vehicles. Sweet! The cabin is solid and quite. Rear seat leg room and comfort beyond expectation. Ride, Steering, and Handling ... ahhhh ... so good. Love the Deep Sea Blue paint. Trunk - Deep & Wide. Standard sound system, pretty darn good, and that's VERY important to me. A/C works very well even in Texas.

A great choice

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Vehicle: 2008 Kia Optima LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

After driving my used 2001 KIA Rio to 120,000 trouble-free miles, it was time to trade it in. The $3000 rebate and some research made the Optima an easy choice. Simply put I really love this car. Performance is excellent, the 5-speed manual is smooth as silk, the engine feels more powerful than the numbers would suggest. Handling is good and the interior is comfortable and quiet (a big change from my old Rio. It was a great little car, but let's face it, it was a go-cart with doors!). You could easily spend a lot more for a car with fewer features. The KIA brand may not have "status" but they do deliver a lot of value for the money.

My kia

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Vehicle: 2008 Kia Optima LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

When researching all the cars in the same class as my Optima I know I got more bang for my buck over every other car.

Great car

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Vehicle: 2008 Kia Optima LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5M)

I recently bought the optima because I needed something more fuel efficient than a Durango. I am very impressed with the car. Not only does it look good for the price but it drives great too. The inside has everything that a person could possibly need. Nothing extra that could just cause problems in the future. I don't care for 4 cylinders but with gas prices the way they are I couldn't pass this car up. If I didn't no that the car was only a 4 cylinder I would have never guessed it. Great car for the price. I would recommend it to anyone looking for something easy on gas and still have good style.

Full 2008 Kia Optima Review

What's New for 2008

An auxiliary audio jack is added to the 2008 Kia Optima.


The 2008 Kia Optima boasts an amazing feature normally restricted to Romulan warbirds and James Bond's Aston Martin from "Die Another Day." Yep, it comes with a cloaking device. Capable of rendering this Kia midsize sedan almost invisible to the naked eye, the Optima's anonymous styling allows it to blend seamlessly into any automotive crowd without the use of futuristic plasmonic materials or whatever the Romulans use. OK, so it's not really invisible, but the Kia's inconspicuous styling cloaks an otherwise admirable car from most of the car-buying public. With strong crash test scores, a lengthy features list and a well-crafted interior, the Optima deserves more attention than its designers saw fit to elicit.

Like most Kias, the name of the game is value, and the Optima delivers it in droves. Both trim levels offer an impressive level of standard equipment at a low price. In fact, a fully loaded EX V6 with leather, heated seats, premium audio and sunroof doesn't crack $25,000. That undercuts similarly equipped competitors like the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry. Of course, those models, as well as every other vehicle in the midsize class, offer a more powerful V6 engine than the Optima. At a mere 185 horsepower, the six-cylinder not only offers little advantage over the many four-cylinders in its class (including the Optima's own) but it produces as much as 85 fewer horses than competitor V6s.

With such modest power, the 2008 Optima is obviously not intended to be a sport sedan, but around town, it can feel a bit like one. Relatively quick steering, tight suspension tuning and an unexpectedly generous helping of road feel are rather surprising in a car styled with nuns in mind. It's not quite a wolf in sheep's clothing, though, as more serious twisting-and-turning driving quickly shows this Kia's humble family sedan intentions.

Overall, the 2008 Kia Optima ranks pretty high with us in arguably the most competitive automotive segment. It's cheaper than top choices like the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, but it lacks their levels of refinement, excitement and competitive V6 power. However, against second-tier four-cylinder models like the Ford Fusion, Saturn Aura and gradually slipping Toyota Camry, the Kia is a well-made, well-rounded candidate at a low price. For those who are seeking those attributes with a lot more visual excitement, though, the all-new Chevy Malibu is probably the better choice.

All these quality competitors go to show the difficulty in choosing a car in the family sedan segment these days and the importance of standing out in a crowd. The Optima literally doesn't, but if you couldn't care less (or you've just joined the witness protection program) this Kia is a clever, value-conscious buy. And besides, what other car comes with a cloaking device?

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Kia Optima is a midsize sedan offered in LX and EX trim levels. Standard equipment on the LX includes 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, tilt steering column, and a six-speaker sound system with single-CD player and auxiliary audio jack. LX models with the V6 engine or automatic-equipped four-cylinder gain keyless entry, cruise control and tilt-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls. The LX V6 also has alloy wheels. The LX Appearance Package adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, trip computer, and upgraded exterior and interior trim.

The Optima EX comes standard with these items while adding automatic climate control, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, HomeLink and further upgraded interior trim. The EX Appearance Package adds 17-inch alloy wheels, black leather seats and many of the LX Appearance Package's trim upgrades. The EX Convenience Package adds a four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, manual rear window sunshade and power-adjustable pedals. The EX Premium Package adds a sunroof and an upgraded Infinity sound system with subwoofer, cassette player and a six-CD/MP3 changer.

Powertrains and Performance

The base engine on the 2008 Kia Optima is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes a competitive 162 hp and 164 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the four-cylinder LX. Optional on the LX and standard on the four-cylinder EX is a five-speed automatic transmission. Optional on both trim levels is a 2.7-liter V6 that produces an unimpressive 185 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque; the five-speed auto is standard with this engine. Acceleration is sluggish with either engine, as the V6 produces a leisurely 0-60 sprint of 9.1 seconds. That's the same time needed for a much heavier four-cylinder Honda Accord. Fuel economy estimates for 2008 are 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway for the four-cylinder and 20/28 for the V6.


The Optima's standard safety equipment includes front-seat side airbags, full-length curtain airbags and 5-mph bumpers. Available on all but four-cylinder LX models with the manual transmission is the Electronic Stability Control Package, which includes antilock brakes, stability control and traction control. Crash test scores for the Optima are quite simply excellent. The government gave it a perfect five stars for front- and side-impact protection, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it the highest possible rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset crash test.

Interior Design and Special Features

Like the exterior, the 2008 Optima's cabin is hardly a vibrant environment. However, it counters any lack of character with a no-brainer control layout and very good interior materials. On both counts, it outdoes better-known competitors like the Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion. There's plenty of legroom up front, and the seats are well-shaped and supportive with nicely padded bottom cushions. Legroom is good in back as well, but the seat bottoms are a little short, offering less support for long-limbed occupants than many rivals' accommodations. Trunk capacity is 14.8 cubic feet, and all Optimas have a 60/40-split-folding rear seat.

Driving Impressions

Between stoplights the 2008 Kia Optima V6 feels plenty powerful, but that engine runs out of steam as the rpm climb. Passing power is adequate but unimpressive for a V6 in this class, and the five-speed automatic is reluctant to downshift. Thankfully, there is a manual mode when you want some extra punch. Given the V6's disappointing performance, we'd recommend that budget-minded buyers stick with the base four-cylinder engine, as it provides fully adequate performance while keeping the price tag and fuel consumption low. Thanks to its tightly tuned suspension and relatively communicative steering, the Kia Optima has a somewhat sporty feel around town. The trade-off is that this Kia ultimately doesn't feel as luxurious as other midsize sedans. In addition, if you start making considerable cornering demands on the car, that sportiness goes away quickly. Used as a daily commuter, though, the Optima can be more entertaining than its exterior would suggest.

Talk About The 2008 Optima

Gas Mileage


  • 21
  • cty
  • 31
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs