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2015 Kia Optima Review

Despite its intuitive infotainment system and powerful engine lineup, the 2015 Kia Optima ranks in the bottom half of the midsize car class. It has tight rear headroom, uninspiring handling, and below-average fuel economy.

Pros & Cons

  • User-friendly infotainment features
  • Two powerful engine choices
  • Less nimble than rivals
  • Below-average fuel economy
  • Rear seats cramped for tall passengers




Critics' Rating: 8.5
Performance: 7.6
Interior: 7.6
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.9
Safety: 9.7
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2015 Kia Optima Overview

Is the 2015 Kia Optima a Good Used Car?

The 2015 Optima is a good used midsize car, but a lot of other competitors in the class are better. This Kia has two capable engine choices, but that doesn’t make up for its numb steering. Rear headroom can be cramped, and some rivals have more trunk space. Although the Optima has great safety scores for the class, many of its rivals have higher reliability ratings.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve researched 49 Kia Optima reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability scores and cost of ownership estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of automotive industry experience combined. While we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To ensure our reviews remain impartial, we refuse expensive gifts and trips from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2015 Kia Optima?

Prices for the 2015 Optima range from about $11,800 to around $20,000, with an average price of roughly $15,400. This data comes from more than 3,200 listings for the 2015 Optima on our site. The price you pay depends on the vehicle's features, mileage, condition, and location.

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How Much Does the 2015 Kia Optima Cost to Own?

The 2015 Optima is right in line with its rivals when it comes to gas, insurance, repair, and maintenance costs. You can expect to pay around $23,500 over five years for these expenses.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Optima?

A new 2019 Kia Optima is vastly different from a used 2015 model. Kia fully redesigned the Optima for the 2016 model year, which is when several new infotainment features and driver assistance technologies were first introduced. The 2019 Optima now boasts a standard touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and standard blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, forward collision avoidance assist, lane departure warning, lane change assist, lane keep assist, and driver drowsiness monitoring.

The Optima's powertrain lineup was also revamped for the new generation. The 2015 model featured a 192-horsepower four-cylinder engine or a 274-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder. Engine options in the 2016 Optima include a standard 185-horsepower four-cylinder, a 178-horsepower turbo-four, and a 245-horsepower turbocharged engine. The other main difference between a used Optima and a new model is price – the 2019 starts at about $23,000.

Read about the new Kia Optima »

There aren't any new midsize cars that you can get for the price of a used 2015 Optima, but you could consider stepping down to the compact car class. The fully redesigned 2019 Kia Forte starts at around $17,700. It comes standard with goodies like a touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, lane keep assist, automatic emergency braking, and driver attention monitoring. The Forte has a spacious back seat, and its trunk is almost as large as the Optima’s.

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Which Model Year of the Kia Optima Is Best?

The 2015 Kia Optima finishes out a generation that began with the 2011 model year. You can likely save lots of money by shopping for older cars in this generation, but you'll miss out on several changes made for the 2014 Optima. These include a refreshed interior and exterior design, newly available blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, and an updated infotainment system with touch-screen capability.

If you can drop a little more coin, consider the fully redesigned 2016 Kia Optima, which features a lineup of three new engines, a newly available seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and lots of new features. A rearview camera is standard in the 2016 Optima. Available upgrades include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights, a surround-view parking camera, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

Compare the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Optima »

How Reliable Is the 2015 Kia Optima?

J.D. Power gave the 2015 Kia Optima a reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average across the industry.

Read more about Optima reliability »

2015 Kia Optima Recalls

At the time of this writing, no open recalls apply to the 2015 Optima.

See more information on Kia Optima safety recalls »

Which Used Kia Optima Model Is Right for Me?

The 2015 Kia Optima comes in five trim levels: LX, EX, SX, SX Turbo, and SXL Turbo. The top SXL Turbo trim has the most standard features, making it the one to get if it fits in your budget. Otherwise, you can find many features you're looking for in lower trims.

See 2015 Kia Optima trims and specs »

What Does Kia's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Kia offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles five years old or less and with fewer than 60,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. Kia’s certified pre-owned vehicles receive the balance of the original 10-year/100,000-mile new-car powertrain warranty as well as a one-year/12,000-mile comprehensive Platinum warranty on non-powertrain parts. Every CPO Kia must pass a 164-point inspection. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Kia warranty page carefully.

According to our analysis, Kia has one of the best CPO programs among affordable car manufacturers.

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How Safe Is the Optima?

The 2015 Kia Optima has a high safety score for the midsize car class. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Optima a perfect five-star overall rating, with five stars in the frontal, side crash, and rollover tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2015 Optima the highest rating of Good in four evaluations and a score of Acceptable in the small overlap driver-side test. The IIHS named the Optima a 2015 IIHS Top Safety Pick, the second-highest accolade the organization awards to vehicles.

No driver assistance features come standard in the 2015 Optima. Rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert are available.

See Optima safety scores »

2015 Kia Optima Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2015 Kia Optima or 2015 Toyota Camry?

The 2015 Toyota Camry ranks near the top of the midsize car class because of its impeccable reliability rating. It bests the Optima in most other areas too. The Camry comes standard with a rearview camera and a touch-screen interface, which are optional in the Optima. You'll get slightly better fuel economy with the Camry, a spacious back seat, and an upscale interior. These two rivals offer comparable engine power and performance, but the Camry's handling is a little sharper. It's hard to argue against this Toyota in practically any situation.

Which Is Better: 2015 Kia Optima or 2015 Hyundai Sonata?

The fully redesigned 2015 Hyundai Sonata competes for a top spot in the class. It has an above-average reliability rating and great safety scores. Its cabin is replete with top-notch materials, and front and rear passengers will enjoy plenty of space. The Sonata is available with one of three engine choices, ranging from a fuel-efficient turbocharged engine to a much stronger turbo variant. User-friendly features round out the Sonata's appeal and make it a better choice than the Optima.

Compare the Optima, Camry, and Sonata »

2015 Optima Performance

How Does the 2015 Kia Optima Drive?

The 2015 Kia Optima comes standard with a 192-horsepower, four-cylinder engine that delivers brisk acceleration, even when passing and merging on the highway. A 274-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine is also available, and it makes the Optima feel as fast as some V6-powered rivals. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard.

The Optima has a pleasant ride and stable handling, but it’s not as nimble as some other midsize cars. Some critics chided the Optima's steering for its lack of feedback and numb feel.

Does the 2015 Kia Optima Get Good Gas Mileage?

The 2015 Optima gets 23 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway with its base engine, which are slightly below-average estimates for the class. The turbocharged Optima gets 20/30 mpg city/highway. By comparison, the 2015 Toyota Camry gets 25/34 mpg, and the 2015 Hyundai Sonata gets 24/36 mpg.

Read more about Optima performance »

2015 Optima Interior

How Many People Does the 2015 Optima Seat?

The 2015 Kia Optima sedan seats five. It comes standard with cloth upholstery and a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat. Available amenities include leather seats, Nappa leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats. There’s plenty of legroom in both the front and back seats, but the sedan’s sloping roofline cuts into rear-seat headroom, which may be a problem for taller folks.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2015 Kia Optima?

The Optima has two complete sets of rear-seat LATCH connections and a tether anchor for the middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for ease of use, citing lower anchors that are set too deep in the seats.

2015 Kia Optima Features

Standard features in the 2015 Optima include a USB port, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and a six-speaker stereo. Available features include a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a heated steering wheel, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start. You can also find models with an eight-speaker Infinity surround-sound stereo, navigation, HD Radio, and a touch-screen infotainment system.

The optional UVO interface is one of the most user-friendly infotainment systems on the market. The touch screen is easy to use, and there are lots of other clearly labeled buttons and knobs on the center stack.

See 2015 Kia Optima specs »

Read more about Optima interior »

2015 Kia Optima Dimensions

Kia Optima Cargo Space

The Kia Optima has 15.4 cubic feet of trunk space, which is about average for the class. A 60/40-split folding rear seat comes standard.

2015 Optima Length and Weight

The Optima is 15.9 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,237 to 3,468, depending on trim level and powertrain.

Where Was the 2015 Kia Optima Built?

Kia built the 2015 Optima in Georgia.

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