$15,182 - $24,708

2017 Kia Optima Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Kia Optima was new.


Performance: 8.4

The 2017 Kia Optima offers three engines, but the 2.0-liter engine provides the most power. The Optima has a comfortable ride, though its brakes are overly sensitive and its steering can be a bit dull. However, putting the car in Sport mode can improve that. Additionally, it can handle twists and turns with confidence.

  • "While we would never confuse this midsize family sedan with a BMW, Audi or Cadillac sports sedan, the 2017 Kia Optima delivers performance and ... handling a cut above most of its peers." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Stoplight acceleration is smooth and lag-free, while highway comfort is superb, thanks to well-controlled tire and wind noise. The effect is more pronounced due to the near-luxury surroundings Kia has conjured up for the SX-L, but they've also managed to exorcise the powertrain harshness (especially at lower engine speeds) with which we've long associated four-cylinder Korean cars. In all, it's a far more refined package than even the previous well-mannered Optima." -- Autoweek (2016)
  • "Rather than the sportiness that its sharp design suggests, we come away more impressed with the Optima SXL's quiet and refined demeanor that falls more on the luxury side of things." -- Automobile Magazine (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Kia Optima comes standard with a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. A turbocharged 178-horsepower 1.6-liter engine paired to a seven-speed automatic transmission is available, as is a turbocharged 245-horsepower 2.0-liter engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Optima's base 2.4-liter engine gets 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, which is about average for the class. The Optima's turbocharged 1.6-liter engine gets 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Lastly, the Optima's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine returns 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

The base 2.4-liter engine has enough power to satisfy drivers and the standard six-speed automatic transmission has smooth and quick shifting. The turbocharged 1.6-liter engine has some turbo lag and the most powerful 2.0-liter engine has impressive, powerful acceleration. 

  • "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." -- Edmunds
  • "We love the 2.0-liter turbo's robust boost and ample low-end torque, made all the more enjoyable by an excellent 6-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The six-speed auto handled its duties well, providing smooth shifts up-or-down through the rev range. The Optima is equipped with paddle shifters, but they weren't as responsive as we would've liked." -- Left Lane News (2016)

Handling and Braking

The 2017 Optima comes standard with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is not available. Overall, the Optima handles well, taking on winding roads and providing a comfortable drive. However, its brakes are overly sensitive and its steering lacks feedback. It comes standard with Drive Mode Select, with three modes to choose from: Normal, Eco, and Sport. Sport mode improves steering a bit, providing a little more response.

  • The brakes can be a bit touchy, but handling is decent for the class." -- Edmunds
  • We found the ride and handling of the Optima to be just OK. The ride in Optima manages to be firm without feeling all that sporty. Even over relatively smooth road surfaces the Optima managed to find rough patches that jittered the entire car." -- Left Lane News (2016)
  • Steering was noticeably better in Sport mode, killing some of the numbness that cropped up on center in the other modes. Handling on the whole is better than before, regardless of mode." -- Autotrader (2016)

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