Used 2003 Kia Optima Review

Edmunds expert review

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

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.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.