2018 Kia Optima Complete In-depth Review & Buying Guide
After receiving a fresh tweak in 2016, the Kia Optima arrived in 2017 with mild updates and some extra add-ons. For 2018, the Optima remains unchanged. The 2018 Kia Optima lies above the compact Forte and below the larger Cadenza. A new S trim has also been added alongside the LX 1.6T and the LX 2.4 with the Convenience package.
The LX 1.6T and the LX 2.4 trims get laminated front windows, auto up/down front windows, and a 10-way power driver's seat as standard. The SX Turbo model now comes with standard features like a panoramic sunroof, LED fog lights, UVO3 infotainment system, heated and ventilated front seats, and a 10-way power front passenger seat. The carmaker has discontinued the SX Limited trim and the optional package is introduced with the Optima SX trim.
The three engine options available for Kia Optima include a 2.4-liter I-4 with 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque, a 1.6-liter turbo-four with 178 hp and 195 lb-ft, and a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 245 hp and 260 lb-ft. A six-speed automatic transmission is mated to the base 2.4-liter I-4 and 2.0-liter turbo-four, while the 1.6-liter turbo-four cylinder powertrain is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
7.9/10 Fuel Economy
2018 Kia Optima Features
The 2018 Optima price starts at $22,500, which is exactly what you will pay for the majority of the mid-size sedans available in this segment. In addition to the base model, LX2.4, there are four upgraded trims: S 2.4 (priced at $23,500), EX 2.4 (priced at $25,600), LX 1.6T (priced at $24,300), and the top SX 2.0T (priced at $30,500). All the trims are relatively close to pricing. The SX trim is costliest because of the turbocharged engine and additional premium features.
10-way power adjustable driver’s seat W/sport black cloth
10-way power adjustable driver’s seat W/2 way power lumbar support.
Leather seat trim with heated front seats
Panoramic sunroof w/power sunshade and LED interior lighting
Rear Cross Traffic Alert(RCTA)
LED front fog lights and LED sport rear combination lamps.
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob.
Smart key w/push- button start and immobilizer.
10-way power- adjustable passenger’s seat and ventilated front seats.
UVO with 7” touch screen display W/android auto and apple car play.
We would recommend you to buy the SX trim because of its potent engine and reasonable price. You get all the top of the line features offered on each trim.
2018 Kia Optima Engine
“On the road, our Optima was exceptionally quiet, though the ride was somewhat firm. If you’re looking for comfort over performance, the smaller wheel/tire packages and more compliant suspension settings of the LX and EX trims might make a better choice.” — Autotrader (2017)
Engine and Transmission
The 2018 Kia Optima comes powered by a 2.4-liter engine that is optimized for perfect everyday driving. There are also two turbocharged options available for buyers looking for more performance. The 1.6-liter engine, on the other hand, offers exceptional fuel economy.
Moreover, the turbo 2.0-liter is best for enthusiasts looking for a top-level engine that can deliver superior power delivery via an automatic transmission. Only the 1.6-liter engine comes mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, while the 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter Optima models come paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
2.0L Inline 4
185 hp @ 6,000 rpm
160 hp @ 5700 rpm
192 hp @ 5500 rpm
245 hp @ 6000 rpm
178 Ib.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
184 ft-lbs. @ 2500 rpm
192 ft-lbs. @ 1600 rpm
260 ft-lbs. @ 1350 rpm
The base Optima 2018 model LX, S, EX all comes powered with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine is capable of propelling 185 horsepower. The LX trim is available with a low-end engine, a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.
For power lovers, the carmaker has introduced Optima SX 2.0L Turbo with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine which is paired with a 6-speed automatic. This engine offers a maximum power output of 245 horsepower.
On the other hand, the Optima hybrid trim combines a 2.0-liter I-4, an electric motor, a lithium-ion battery, and a six-speed automatic to churn out a combined output of 192 hp and 271 lb-ft. The Optima Plug-in delivers a maximum power of 202 hp and 276 lb-ft peak torque. The hybrid powertrain allows to cut cargo space down to 13.4 cubic feet.
On the acceleration front, the Kia Optima manages to do 0-60 MPH in 6.8 seconds, which is similar to the Hyundai Sonata. Rest of the rivals are slower comparatively. Chevy Malibu takes around 8.5 seconds to sprint 0-60 MPH.
Emission (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/yr
Braking and Handling
The brake pedal is soft which can make deceleration a bit harder at times. A panic stop from 60-0 MPH is 124 feet, which is longer than the average sedans in this segment. The Optima SX with wider tires manages to get a braking distance of 112 feet. Optima comes with different drive modes: Normal, Sport, and Eco.
Brake pads Rear(in)
60-0 MPH (ft.)
The driving dynamics of this sedan is not subpar and it may disappoint. The narrow tires make it harder to corner smoothly. The front-wheel-drive sedan misses the athletic composition.
2018 Kia Optima Fuel Economy
Almost all trims of the 2018 Kia Optima that comes with a 2.4-liter engine offer decent fuel economy than the majority of mid-size sedans in the segment. The base model delivers 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Moreover, the LX 1.6T models, deliver 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway.
2018 Kia Optima Interior
“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.” – Edmunds
Seating and Comfort
There is a space for five passengers inside Kia Optima and you will find a comfortable seating. The front area of the cabin is roomy and you’ll get several updates including heated and ventilated seats, and 10-way power adjustments. The rear seat legroom is, however, shorter than the Toyota Camry, which offers generous space for tall occupants.
The 2018 Optima comes with plentiful storage spaces to store small items. Each door has got cupholder and a small tray. There’s also a concealed bin under the center stack. You’ll get three tether anchors- for each rear seat. The hardware is easy to access and locate.
The mounted seat cushions are also comfortable and easy to use. The cabin is airy and roomy. The design too feels clean and offers plenty of space for storing small items. The premium material used in the top trims will offer a luxurious feel.
The Kia Optima infotainment is easy to understand and learn. It is integrated with plenty of features. In order to add more convenience, Kia has already included advanced smartphone integration into every Optima model.
With the presence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you can easily connect your smartphone and access your favorite apps on the 7-inch touchscreen. Satellite radio and Bluetooth Kardon surround sound audio system is available with EX and SX trims.
The cargo space offered by 2018 Optima is close to the competitors. With the 15.9 cubic feet trunk, the Optima can easily manage to store the grocery stuff and household equipment you shop every weekend.
Trunk volume (ft.cube)
2018 Kia Optima Exterior
The Optima is handsome and understated, but it’s overshadowed in the showroom by the sexy and sporty Kia Stinger. -Car and Driver
Dimensions and Weight
Undoubtedly, 2018 Kia Optima is a sharply styled sedan. The design language, however, is based on the last generation. The front fascia gets a “tiger-nose” grille that makes it aggressive and bold. The skin didn’t change and remain similar to the outgoing model.
The 2018 Kia Optima adapts the latest and next generation exterior style with more sharp and curvy design lines. It has got a coupe-like roofline that goes down toward the rear end, offering good head room to the rear seat occupants. The overall dimension of Optima seems elongated that gives the sedan a sportier stance.
Track width(in) F/R
The competitors to have similar dimensions, which means that Optima doesn’t stand out in this regard. The Kia Optima is available in eight exterior colors. There is a wide range of colors to choose from.
2018 Kia Optima Safety
“The Kia Optima has always offered a strong value proposition, but the current-generation model takes it a step further with an upscale cabin and all the latest driver aids and luxury features a buyer can expect from a midsize sedan. Competitive pricing, a host of new standard features and a robust warranty keep the Optima in the running for top-of-class honors.” — Edmunds
The 2018 Optima has received five stars safety rating overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The last year model received top safety scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It also comes with a superior front crash prevention and offers amazing autonomous emergency braking system.
On the warranty front, the 2018 Optima comes with a five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile limited engine warranty.
NHTSA Crash test results
Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Driver
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Passenger
Overall Side Crash Rating
Side Barrier Rating
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
Side Pole Rating Driver Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Rear Seat
Small overlap front
Small overlap front passenger side
Moderate overlap front
Side Impact Test
Head restraints & seats
Crash Prevention and Mitigation
Front crash prevention
Child seat anchors (LATCH) ease of use
The 2018 Optima comes loaded with hefty of standard safety features than before. Every Optima trims now gets a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors. Other top trims get advanced driver assistance technologies via add-on packages. The package includes autonomous emergency braking, a forward collision warning system, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and a surround-view camera.
Dual Front Advanced Airbags
Dual Front Seat Mounted Side Airbags
Full-Length Side Curtain Airbags
Driver’s Side Knee Airbag
Front Seat-Belt Pretensioners
Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), 4-Wheel Disc Brakes
Vehicle Stability Management (VSM)
Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)
Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH)
2018 Kia Optima Competition
Kia Optima vsChevrolet Malibu
The Chevrolet Malibu is stylish and sturdy. It provides a luxurious ride in all seasons. The hybrid version of the sedan offers better mileage, like 49 MPG city. It has got plenty of standard safety features. If you are considering a good mileage offering sedan then Malibu can be a good pick.
Kia Optima vs Honda Accord
Honda Accord has a good reputation under Honda leadership. The mid-sized sedan is a true family sedan with solid build quality but it failed to match Optima’s standard technology checklist. Accord has successfully managed to offer more safety tech and driver assistance features, such as adaptive cruise control and active lane assist in each model.
Kia Optima vsHyundai Sonata
Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata have many similarities. They share similar standard features, warranty, and comfort level. A low starting price gives Sonata an edge over Optima. Otherwise, both of these sedans are a good pick.
2018 Kia Optima Final Verdict
If you are seeking a comfortable and solid midsize sedan, you may consider buying Kia Optima. Families and commuters will love to find pleasure in the ride and above-average fuel economy. The spacious cabin is already a heartthrob. You get standard amenities across all trim level, which is rare to find across prominent rivals.
The 2018 Kia Optima has been ranked at sixth position among the midsize sedan cars in the U.S. It is a civilized sedan that offers appealing tech features (including user-friendly infotainment) and best-in-class gas mileage.