2003 Kia Optima Review

Used Optima for sale
List Price Estimate:$956 - $2,363
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Excellent warranty, pleasant highway ride, lots of bang for your family sedan buck.
  • Noisy four-cylinder engine, some cheap interior bits, ABS isn't available on four-cylinder models.

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

2003 Highlights

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.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2003 Kia Optima.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

3.75 out of 5 stars
Life saver
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.
4.38 out of 5 stars
Great Used 2003 Optima
Ace Shot,05/08/2009
LX V6 4dr Sedan (2.7L 6cyl 4A)
Bought this car with 26,000 miles and 11 months left on the factory 5 year/60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty! It had only minor issues (power window switch and power locks) and the dealer made the repairs for free, under warranty. Fun to drive it with its "sportmatic" transmission. I like putting it in manual shift mode from time to time to pass slower cars, or to perform better on hills. I used to think it was a gas guzzler, until I changed my driving habits: If I don't stomp on the gas in the city, and on the highway I speed up slowly and drive 80 mph or less, I get very good gas mileage. Performs very well and looks very nice. I got a lot of bang for my buck with this car.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Great car - couple small issues
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.
4.63 out of 5 stars
Great Ride
LX V6 4dr Sedan (2.7L 6cyl 4A)
At 190000 miles has been a great reliable car. Standard maintenance and very regular oil changes. Today will buy 4th set of tires. Get 25-26 MPG mainly freeway driving.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2003 Kia Optima

Used 2003 Kia Optima Overview

The Used 2003 Kia Optima is offered in the following submodels: Optima Sedan. Available styles include SE V6 4dr Sedan (2.7L 6cyl 4A), LX V6 4dr Sedan (2.7L 6cyl 4A), LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 5M), and SE 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A). Pre-owned Kia Optima models are available with a 2.7 L-liter gas engine or a 2.4 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 170 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2003 Kia Optima comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed shiftable automatic, 5-speed manual. The Used 2003 Kia Optima comes with a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 10 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2003 Kia Optima?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2003 Kia Optimas are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2003 Kia Optima for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2003 Kia Optima.

Can't find a used 2003 Kia Optimas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Optima for sale - 6 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $22,432.

Find a used Kia for sale - 1 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $10,309.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Optima for sale - 1 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $25,117.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 11 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $21,081.

Should I lease or buy a 2003 Kia Optima?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Kia lease specials
Check out Kia Optima lease specials