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2020 Kia Optima Review

The 2020 Kia Optima boasts a spacious, premium cabin, an intuitive infotainment system, and a smooth ride, which propel it to a competitive ranking in the midsize car class. However, its below-average predicted reliability rating and dull driving dynamics prevent it from challenging for the top spot in the segment.

Pros & Cons

  • Upscale cabin
  • Straightforward infotainment controls
  • Gentle ride
  • Subpar predicted reliability rating
  • Poor fuel economy estimates
  • Less agile than rivals

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Kia Optima's #3 ranking is based on its score within the Midsize Cars category. Currently the Kia Optima has a score of 8.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 35 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.0

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.5
Performance: 7.3
Interior: 8.1
Safety: 10.0
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Kia Optima a Good Car?

Yes, the 2020 Kia Optima is a good midsize car. This sedan has a serene ride, and it cruises over most road flaws. It has above-average trunk space, its cabin is full of quality materials, and the seats are roomy, even for taller occupants. However, some of its rivals are more athletic or have better fuel economy. Many of them have better predicted reliability ratings too.

Should I Buy the Kia Optima?

This Kia sedan is a well-rounded car with a lot of appeal, but there are some classmates that equal or surpass it. The Toyota Camry has similar interior quality and is more fun to drive, and the Mazda6 is one of the most nimble vehicles in the segment.

Compare the Optima, Camry, and Mazda6 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Kia Optima?

Kia last redesigned the Optima for the 2016 model year. Since then, this sedan has seen a few significant updates. The 2018 Optima gained standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. The 2019 Optima received more standard driver assistance features, such as forward collision warning, a driver drowsiness monitor, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and lane change assist.

The 2020 Optima sees no major changes. You may be able to find a similarly equipped older model for less money.

Be sure to read our 2017, 2018, and 2019 Optima reviews to help make your decision. You can also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Optima »

We Did the Research for You: 35 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make car shopping a breeze. You'll find everything you need to know about the Kia Optima in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data like fuel economy estimates and cargo space dimensions with professional evaluations from 35 automotive sources. This Kia Optima review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which includes the 2016 through 2020 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve been reviewing cars since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. We also award the Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands on an annual basis. To ensure our impartiality, a third party handles our advertising, and we don't accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Kia Optima Cost?

Kia hasn't released official pricing information for the 2020 Optima as of this writing, but we expect prices to be inline with those of the 2019 Optima, which started at $22,900. That's in line with the retail prices of many rivals.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia Optima Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Kia Optima or Hyundai Sonata?

The Hyundai Sonata is a great midsize car. Because Hyundai and Kia are corporate siblings, it’s no surprise that both vehicles have roomy cabins and similar features lists. Both also have passable base engines and more enthusiastic turbocharged options. The Kia does have nicer cabin materials, but the Hyundai's higher predicted reliability rating and solid safety scores give it the edge.

Which Is Better: Kia Optima or Toyota Camry?

The Toyota Camry is one of the best midsize sedans you can buy. It is surprisingly athletic and gets some of the best fuel economy estimates for a nonhybrid car of its size. The Camry has a potent V6 engine option that surpasses anything you’ll find in the Kia, and it’s one of the few cars in the segment that can rival the Optima's premium cabin design. Hands down, the Camry is the better vehicle.

Compare the Optima, Sonata, and Camry »

Optima Interior

How Many People Does the Optima Seat?

This Kia seats five people on standard cloth upholstery. Synthetic leather upholstery, genuine leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel are available.

Both rows have plenty of space, and even tall riders can stretch out in the back. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, especially in the SX trim, which has added seat bolstering.

Optima and Child Car Seats

The 2020 Kia Optima has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats, as well as a third tether anchor on the rear middle seat.

Optima Interior Quality

Few midsize cars can match the luxury of this sedan’s cabin. Soft-touch surfaces and high-end materials abound.

Optima Cargo Space

This Kia has a 15.9-cubic-foot trunk, which is above average for the midsize car class.

Optima Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the Kia Optima LX sedan include the UVO infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a USB port, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free, and a six-speaker sound system. Available tech features include a Wi-Fi hot spot, navigation, satellite radio, HD Radio, three additional USB ports, and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound stereo.

The UVO infotainment system is easy to use. There are physical controls for some functions, and the touch screen displays crisp graphics and responds quickly to inputs.

Read more about interior »

Optima Performance

Optima Engine: Turbo Is a Go-Go

The Optima comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. While this powertrain is fine for commuting and driving around town, it’s not especially potent.

For something more energetic, look to the higher trims. The EX comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 178 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. SX models feature a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine rated at 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and they come with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Optima Gas Mileage: Suboptimal

With its base engine, this vehicle gets an EPA-estimated 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. Most midsize sedans earn better ratings. The 1.6-liter turbocharged engine fares better, returning 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The 2.0-liter turbo-four trails the pack at 21/30 mpg city/highway.

Optima Ride and Handling: Comfortable and Poised

The Optima provides a gentle, composed ride over most roads. The SX comes with a sport-tuned suspension, which stiffens the ride a bit. Rivals such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are more agile. Front-wheel drive is standard.

Read more about performance »

Optima Reliability

Is the Kia Optima Reliable?

The 2020 Kia Optima has a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Kia Optima Warranty

The Optima is covered by a basic warranty lasting five years or 60,000 miles and a powertrain warranty lasting 10 years or 100,000 miles. Those are lengthier warranties than what many rivals offer.

Read more about reliability »

Optima Safety

Optima Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 Optima a perfect overall safety rating of five out of five stars. The Optima earned five stars in the frontal crash, side crash, and rollover tests. At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2020 Optima.

Optima Safety Features

The base Optima has a rearview camera, lane keep assist, lane change assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a driver drowsiness monitor. Available features include adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam headlights, pedestrian detection, and a 360-degree parking camera.

Read more about safety »

Kia Optima Dimensions and Weight

The 2020 Optima is about 15.9 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,230 to 3,558 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Kia Optima Built?

Kia builds the 2020 Optima in Georgia.

Which Kia Optima Model Is Right for Me?

Kia offers the Optima in four trim levels: LX, S, EX, and SX. The base LX comes with a generous helping of tech and safety features, and the S trim adds even more without drastically raising the price. However, if you’re after more engaging performance, look to either the EX or SX trims and their turbocharged engines.

Kia Optima LX

We estimate that the base Kia Optima LX will retail for around $23,000. It comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an 8-inch touch screen, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, a USB port, a rearview camera, forward collision warning with brake assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lane change assist, a driver drowsiness monitor, and rear parking sensors.

A Premium package is available. Likely costing around $2,000, it adds satellite radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a panoramic sunroof.

Kia Optima S

The Kia Optima S features the same powertrain as the base model. The S trim is expected to have a starting MSRP of around $25,000. It includes the contents of the Premium package (minus the sunroof), along with proximity keyless entry, push-button start, cloth seats with synthetic leather inserts, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a Wi-Fi hot spot.

Kia Optima EX

Kia Optima EX models are expected to retail for around $26,900. The EX gains a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, leather upholstery, heated front seats, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, and three additional USB ports.

Another Premium package is available. Expected to cost around $3,100, it adds navigation, a premium 10-speaker stereo, a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a panoramic sunroof.

Kia Optima SX

Expected to start at around $32,000, the Optima SX comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and many of the features in the Premium package that is offered in the EX.

The SX is the only trim with the available Limited package. Costing roughly $3,800, it features heated rear seats, upgraded leather upholstery, and a surround-view parking camera.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

See 2020 Kia Optima specs and trims »

The Final Call

In the highly competitive midsize car class, the Kia Optima merits a look. It has a luxurious interior, a smooth ride, and an intuitive infotainment system, as well as a decent amount of trunk space. However, some competitors have more dynamic handling and better fuel economy estimates. This is a great family vehicle, but there are rival sedans that deliver more.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2020 Kia Optima carries on as an attractive midsize sedan offering good fuel economy, technology, value and everyday ease of use." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Kia Optima might not be your first thought when it comes to midsize sedans, but with its good looks, strong turbo engine and huge smattering of onboard tech, it's certainly worth your attention. And with a number of updates for the 2019 model year, the Optima is better suited to battle fresh-faced competitors like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry." -- CNET (2019)
  • "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." -- Edmunds (2018)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: November 27, 2019

Slowing Demand: Sales of the Optima are down this year; dealerships have sold 4.8 percent fewer models so far in 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. The Optima sits in the middle of the midsize car sales rankings and is being outsold by dominant competitors like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord more than 2 to 1. 

Research more buying advice »
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