2018 Kia Optima Review

2018 Kia Optima
2018 Kia Optima

Pros & Cons

  • More features for the money than most rivals provide
  • Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear parking sensors
  • Classy interior with plenty of small-item and cargo storage
  • Infotainment system is easy to use
  • Optional 1.6T powertrain's sleepy responsiveness can get annoying
  • Sloping roofline cuts into rear headroom
  • Hard to see out the back

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Which Optima does Edmunds recommend?

Three of the Optima's five trims stand out for being an exceptionally good value. The LX is loaded with many features that buyers will want, including several advanced safety aids, a touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The EX doesn't cost much more and adds leather, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry, among other upgrades. The SX is our choice because of its strong turbocharged engine and modest price bump compared to the EX with Premium package.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

7.2 / 10

The Kia Optima has always offered a strong value proposition, but the current-generation model takes it a step further with a upscale cabin and all the latest driver aids and luxury features a buyer can expect from a midsize sedan. Competitive pricing, a host of newly standard features and a robust warranty keep the Optima in the running for top-of-class honors even as Honda and Toyota are coming out with redesigned models of the Accord and Camry this year.

Navigating last year's numerous trim levels and packages required a sextant and star chart, though Kia has wisely consolidated selections for this year. Pricing on the base LX model has barely changed, but a touchscreen, rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring have all been added to the standard features list. In fact, most trims received an additional feature or two for 2018. There are even enhancements for the top-trim SX model; it now counts a panoramic sunroof and ventilated seats among the included upgrades.

As value-rich as the Optima is, there are a few drawbacks. Headroom is tight all the way around because of the car's sleekly styled roofline, and passengers will feel the pinch even more with the sunroof specified. Visibility out the back is compromised by the roof, and non-SX models aren't much fun to drive. That said, we wouldn't hesitate to recommend the 2018 Kia Optima to anyone looking for an affordable, roomy family sedan with eye-catching good looks and a ton of features.

What's it like to live with?

To learn more about the Kia Optima of this generation, read about our experiences from a full year of living with a 2016 Kia Optima. We cover all the aspects of Optima ownership, from seat comfort and cargo space to real-world fuel economy and in-car tech. Notable updates in the 2018 Optima include changes to option packages and the addition of smartphone integration capability (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). But the 2018 is in the same generation as the 2016 we tested, so most of our observations still apply.

2018 Kia Optima models

Kia has simplified the trims and features list for 2018, making it easier for buyers to find the right model. The base LX is loaded with goodies such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which were optional on last year's Optima. Even better, the price increase is negligible. The LX 1.6T adds a bit more, but its unique powertrain combination is tough to live with. The S is a sport-themed version of the LX, while the EX doubles down on luxury items. These models are all relatively close in price. The SX is more expensive, but its powerful turbocharged engine and additional features are enticing.

Under the hood of the front-wheel-drive Optima in its base LX form is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (185 horsepower, 178 pound-feet of torque) matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, remote locking and unlocking, cruise control, a driver information display, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable front seats (with two-way power lumbar adjustment for the driver) and a 60/40-split rear seat.

Also standard for the LX are Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker audio system with a USB port, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and HD and satellite radio. Standard advanced safety equipment includes a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

The optional Convenience package adds noise-reducing front window glass and a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat (with two-way power lumbar).

Stepping up to the LX 1.6T adds a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine (178 hp, 195 lb-ft) paired to a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. This powertrain is unique to the LX 1.6T. Additional features include unique wheels, the contents of the Convenience package, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

The S combines the features of the LX 1.6T with the engine and transmission of the LX. You also get 17-inch wheels, foglights, LED taillights, a rear spoiler, and cloth and leather upholstery. The optional Panoramic Sunroof package includes a panoramic sunroof and gloss black exterior accents, with the Panoramic Sport package consisting of these features, plus 18-inch wheels and larger front brakes.

The EX does without the foglights and spoiler, but it adds LED daytime running lights, power-folding mirrors, illuminated door handles, keyless entry and ignition, a hands-free unlocking trunk, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air vents, heated front seats, four-way power lumbar for the driver, driver-seat memory settings, interior chrome accents, leather upholstery and two charge-only rear USB ports.

Two packages are available on the EX. The Premium package adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 10-way passenger seat (with two-way power lumbar), ventilated front seats and the panoramic sunroof. The Technology package builds on top of the Premium pack with a sport body kit, LED foglights, larger front brakes, an electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control, an 8-inch touchscreen, navigation and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. A lane departure warning system and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking are also included.

The range-topping SX is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (245 hp, 260 lb-ft). It is equipped similarly to the EX with Premium package, with upgrades that include 18-inch wheels, adaptive LED headlights, LED foglights, a rear spoiler, dual exhaust tips, a sport-tuned suspension, a flat-bottom steering wheel with wheel-mounted shift paddles, and a larger driver information display. It also adds a temporary spare tire compared to the tire repair kit on other trims.

The SX is available with a Technology package that closely mirrors the EX's Technology package, but it also includes automatic high-beam control. Selecting this package opens the door to the Limited package, which adds chrome wheels and exterior trim, a premium headliner, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, upgraded leather upholstery, rear window sunshades and a 360-degree parking camera system.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Kia Optima LX 1.6T (turbo 1.6L inline-4 | 7-speed dual-clutch automatic | FWD).

Driving

6.0
Unlike the 2.0 turbo, the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and its unconventional seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission suffer from a disappointing lack of responsiveness when accelerating and driving at low speeds. The brakes can be a bit touchy, but handling is decent for the class.

Acceleration

5.5
The turbocharged 1.6-liter has plenty of power available, but the shift-happy transmission makes it difficult to tap into the power at most speeds. A zero-to-60-mph sprint takes 7.7 seconds, a bit quicker than average. The more powerful 2.0-liter turbo takes 6.7 seconds.

Braking

6.0
The brakes are overly grabby, yet the pedal is fairly soft, which can make it difficult to slow smoothly. A simulated-panic stop from 60 mph required 124 feet, a few feet longer than average in this class. The Optima SX Turbo has wider tires and came to a stop in a very short 112 feet.

Steering

6.0
Steering is predictable, but there is very little feedback or feel. The LX 1.6T's low-rolling-resistance tires are prone to causing a slight squirm on highways with rain grooves.

Handling

7.0
The Optima corners with surprising competence compared to its otherwise unimpressive driving dynamics, even though handling limits are rather low on paper. The narrow tires howl loudly, but the car remains composed and predictable.

Drivability

6.0
The 1.6T's transmission causes considerable hesitation when coming away from a stop, and it tries to shift into the next highest gear at all times. At low speeds the powertrain feels jumpy and awkward, too. The 2.0T, with its conventional automatic, is smoother and shifts more naturally.

Comfort

7.0
In humble base LX trim, the Optima provides a good amount of comfort, and midlevel trims further benefit from features such as heated and ventilated seats. Long-distance road trips shouldn't be a problem for a variety of body types thanks to the roomy seats and smooth ride quality.

Seat comfort

6.5
The front seats are decently comfortable for long drives. Some people might take issue with the lack of lateral support and the forward-canted head restraints, though. The rear seats are spacious, but the low-mounted cushion might lack support for the average-size adult.

Ride comfort

7.0
Small, high-frequency bumps are absorbed well for a decent, smooth ride. Larger undulations cause some jostling, but not significantly more than what you'd experience in other cars in this class.

Noise & vibration

7.0
The 1.6T is quiet while cruising but sounds coarse and loud under full throttle. Road noise is ever present but never intrusive, and wind noise is barely detectable.

Climate control

Overall climate control performance is adequate. The fan might not blow hard enough to heat or cool some people to their satisfaction.

Interior

8.0
There isn't a lot of visual excitement inside the Optima, but it is smartly designed for function. The quality of materials and available features make you feel as if you're getting just a bit more for your money. The only major drawback is the compromised rear visibility.

Ease of use

8.0
The Optima gets high marks for its legible physical buttons that are logically placed. Primary controls fall right to hand as they should, and there's no guesswork with the others.

Getting in/getting out

7.0
Tall door openings free from obstructions allow passengers to access their seats with no more effort than required in other sedans. The doors are adequately short in length to provide access in tight parking spots. Getting into the back requires a slight duck to clear the sloping roof.

Driving position

The steering wheel offers plenty of reach travel and height adjustment. There's a good range of motion for all adjustments, but it would be nice if the front of the seat bottom angled up more. Four-way lumbar adjustment is greatly appreciated and not entirely common in this segment.

Roominess

8.0
The front seats have plenty of space for larger passengers, and the range of adjustments will cover short and tall occupants. The rear seats benefit from an abundance of legroom, but headroom is merely adequate for the average adult.

Visibility

6.5
The Optima's cabin feels big and airy thanks to large windows and narrow roof pillars, but the high decklid and rear-seat headrests obscure the view out the back. The standard rearview camera and optional parking sensors eliminate the guesswork.

Quality

7.0
There is plenty of plastic used inside the Optima, but it's sturdy and attractively grained. Creaks and squeaks are nonexistent, and the car feels as solid as any other sedan in the class.

Utility

8.0
The Optima's carrying capacity is about as good as it gets in this class. The trunk is expansive, with a low load height, tall roof and wide opening. It also opens automatically after a few seconds if you have the key in your pocket. There's ample interior storage as well.

Small-item storage

Storage spaces for small items are plentiful throughout the cabin. Each door has a cupholder and a small tray under the grab handle. There's a small, concealed bin under the center stack and a good amount of space under the center armrest.

Cargo space

Like most midsize sedans, the Optima offers a large, spacious trunk with unintrusive wheelwells. It is appropriately sized for the segment at 15.9 cubic feet. We give it extra points for remote seatback releases, but the trunk hinges would ideally hide in recesses so as to not crush cargo items.

Child safety seat accommodation

Four LATCH anchors are accessible under plastic covers that fold down when pressure is applied. Just push aside a bit of seat cushion and you're set to hook up. Anchor access is easier than in most cars but not as good as in those with removable LATCH covers.

Technology

Our tester's 8-inch touchscreen is bright and attractive, with a legible font and redundant physical buttons that make it easy to find what you need. The only exception is the smartphone interface menu, which is tough to find. The navigation system is slow and can't be programmed while traveling.

Audio & navigation

The Uvo system is a cinch to use, with a logical menu structure and physical volume and tuning knobs. The standard six-speaker audio system won't win any awards, and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon system is a worthwhile addition on upper trims.

Smartphone integration

Any model equipped with a touchscreen will have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. There are two USB ports, one in the front and one under the armrest. Two rear charge-only ports come with the Technology package.

Driver aids

We like that advanced safety features including blind-spot monitoring, rear parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert come standard on what is otherwise a lightly optioned sedan. Other features, including automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning, are not available on the LX 1.6T.

Voice control

Standard voice controls work reasonably well, enough to distinguish unusual street spelling (Hyland Avenue rather than Highland Avenue, for example). One instance of address input bizarrely changed the address numbers. Siri and Google's voice assistant are available and will be more accurate.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall7.2 / 10
Driving6.0
Comfort7.0
Interior8.0
Utility8.0

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2018 Kia Optima.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Great Value
Happy Driver,01/19/2018
SX Turbo 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Traded in my 2012 Mercedes C-Class for the 2018 Optima SXL. We purchased the 2017 Sorento SXL last spring after considering many other luxury brand SUV's and have been truly impressed. Decided it was a safe bet to trade the C-Class for the Optima. We've been very happy with the Optima thus far. It's a very quiet, comfortable vehicle with more than enough space for a family of 4. (It's not as quiet on the freeway as my Mercedes, but I don't expect that at $20K less than the 2018 C-Class comparably equipped.) You get a lot for the money, especially the SXL trim package, made better by the great deal we got on the purchase price... $4000 below MSRP. Kia's brand reliability (see Consumer's Reports) combined with the value for the money should make other car brands like Honda and Toyota take notice.
Keeping up with Honda and Toyota
Viper122,03/12/2018
SX Turbo 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
I've owned this car for about 2 months now (1500 miles) so here are some little observations and quirky things I've noticed. First, the car is great and I'm amazed this is a Kia. I opted for the Limited package because I wanted the nice seats and I do love the heated steering wheel. The car is gorgeous. By comparison, I do believe an Accord Touring or Camry XSE would have cost me more. Without the Limited package, the Kia SX is a steal. A big part of my decision was the 10yr/100,000 powertrain warranty and I did extend the basic warranty from 5yr/60,000 to 10 yr/100,000 to match the powertrain. That's a win in my book. Now for the car. Engine is fairly strong. Sound isn't inspiring--just a 4-banger chugging along. One note about gas mileage and turbos: If you're on the gas, you're mileage is not great. I'm coming from a 470hp car and while I'm not crazy on the gas pedal, city driving is getting me about 20mpg. Highway in Eco mode I got 32mpg. Also, in Sport mode there is a noticeable difference in the throttle response (touchy), shifting and steering and I'm sure the mpg would take a bit more of a hit. The brakes on this car can be grabby at times, but according to tests, are excellent in stopping. Acceleration is smooth--it's a quick car. As far as interior goes, it's great. Pretty close to entry-level luxury really. No issues with the infotainment or navigation. Car play works fine, though loading iHeartradio can lag. One unfortunate thing is if you use CarPlay with Google maps, you give up the turn-by-turn directions in the center display from the Kia navigation. There is some minor ambient lighting in the car: One small pinhole-type LED light from the sunroof console and two low-watt red lights shining into the door pockets. Headlights are superb with the SX LED headlights and the beams turn with the car. Adaptive Cruise control is great; however, if you don't pay attention to your speed, you'll end up driving behind someone doing say 60 when you're cruise is set at 70. Car will automatically speeds up when you change lanes and get out from behind the slower car. And allegedly, this car is capable of coming to a complete stop with the cruise/collision avoidance system. I did have the collision avoidance kick-in on me once on the highway. I was traveling about 70 and came around a curve on a truck probably traveling about 50 and the front radar "sensed" the closing speed and I felt the car start braking and watched the speed start dropping in anticipation of a collision. Pretty neat safety stuff right there. Blind-spot/Lane Change Warning is great. Lane keeping assist is good, though if you are a driver that is close to or hits the lane lines alot, you may want to turn it off. It beeps on the side of the car for the respective lane you veer out of. Rear-collision avoidance is a plus; has kicked in on me a couple times while backing out of parking spaces. "Birdseye" camera view is awesome to assist in parking. As far as quirky things, when you walk up to the car the mirrors will fold out and the door handle "pocket lights" come on. That's fine, but if you're outside the car (with car locked), everytime you get close this will happen: they'll fold in, then sense you close again and fold out. You can, however, turn off the mirrors in the car. The mirrors fold in when you lock the car. Also, the "Smart trunk" can be an issue if you don't pay attention. If you walk to the back of the car and stand a couple feet away, the car will start beeping and the lights will flash 4 times. Then the trunk will pop open. It's nice, but incomplete because you still have to reach down to open trunk completely (they should have some mechanism to do that). Problem is if you go around the back of your car and stop for more then 4 seconds, that trunk is popping open. I did this once while talking to my GF and got in the car and trunk was open. Whoops. What's missing: No remote start. You can purchase and with a dealer install probably about $800-1000. And you have a separate remote. Should be integrated and included in a package. Nitpicky items: Car has no "puddle lights" that shine on the ground when you approach/open car. And my car did not have the "sport pedals" which I thought were standard in the SX. I purchased them separately and it took all of 15 minutes to install. And after the first washing, my realization that the Limited wheels would be a pain to clean are true. You need a soft brush to get in between the spokes of the wheel. Most of what you find in the SX Limited is available in other top-of-the-line midsize sedans so for me it came down to styling and warranty. I do like the new Camry, but not worth the extra money and factor in a warranty and the decision was easier. Lots of great mid-size cars out there so it really comes down to what you like. Kia's done a fantastic job with their cars and it shows in their rankings. I'm super happy with this car.
Love Love Love my car!
Danell,11/05/2018
S 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
This car is super spacious, great on gas, and has a great exterior look to it! I receive so many compliments on my car and I love taking it for a drive. Sometimes the USB port for ApplePlay acts a little funky but I usually unplug and plug my USB charger right back in and it works fine after that. My last car was a Kia Forte which I loved as well but the Optima was the perfect upgrade for me. Overall, Kia has treated me great :)
7000 miles engine blows
Wil,02/27/2019
S 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
I only had my 2018 Optima 2.4 engine for 7000 miles and then the engine needs replaced. Service said Kia having alot of trouble with that particular motor.

Features & Specs

MPG
25 city / 36 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
185 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
24 city / 34 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
185 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
23 city / 32 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
185 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
22 city / 31 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
245 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2018 Kia Optima features & specs

Safety

Our experts like the Optima models:

Dynamic Bending Light
Swivels the headlights to provide illumination around a corner while turning. Also adjusts the tilt to account for passenger weight.
Autonomous Emergency Braking System
Automatically applies the brakes if advanced safety systems determine a front collision is imminent.
Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
Sounds an alert if a vehicle is passing or about to pass behind you as you back up.

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover9.8%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2018 Kia Optima
Used 2018 Kia Optima Overview

The Used 2018 Kia Optima is offered in the following submodels: Optima Sedan. Available styles include LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), EX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), S 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SX Turbo 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and LX Turbo 4dr Sedan (1.6L 4cyl Turbo 7AM).

What's a good price on a Used 2018 Kia Optima?

Price comparisons for Used 2018 Kia Optima trim styles:

  • The Used 2018 Kia Optima LX is priced between $10,991 and$16,872 with odometer readings between 12090 and61050 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Kia Optima EX is priced between $12,495 and$19,800 with odometer readings between 14023 and74966 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Kia Optima S is priced between $14,509 and$16,998 with odometer readings between 19635 and33214 miles.
  • The Used 2018 Kia Optima SX Turbo is priced between $21,507 and$23,900 with odometer readings between 27545 and29413 miles.

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 2018 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) 2018 Kia Optima for sale near. There are currently 52 used and CPO 2018 Optimas listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $10,991 and mileage as low as 12090 miles. 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 2018 Kia Optima.

Can't find a used 2018 Kia Optimas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Kia Optima for sale - 2 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $14,110.

Find a used Kia for sale - 6 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $19,775.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia Optima for sale - 12 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $11,148.

Find a used certified pre-owned Kia for sale - 2 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $19,406.

Should I lease or buy a 2018 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