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2018 Kia Optima Review

The 2018 Kia Optima's excellent safety scores, adult-friendly seats, and numerous standard features help place it in the top half of our midsize car rankings. Some of its competitors offer a more engaging ride, however.

Pros & Cons

  • Roomy seats
  • Lots of standard tech and safety features
  • Outstanding safety scores
  • Easy-to-use infotainment system
  • Bland driving dynamics

New for 2018

  • Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 7-inch touch screen became standard
  • Standard safety features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors




Critics' Rating: 8.6
Performance: 8.3
Interior: 8.6
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.9
Safety: 10.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Kia Optima Overview

Is the 2018 Kia Optima a Good Used Car?

Yes, the 2018 Kia Optima is a good used midsize car. It's a great option for families who need lots of cargo and passenger space.

The 2018 Optima has several strengths:

  • Seats five adults comfortably
  • Large trunk
  • Plenty of standard features, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Easy-to-use infotainment controls
  • Some of the best safety scores in the class

It doesn't have many weaknesses:

  • Not as fun to drive as some class rivals
Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve analyzed 25 Kia Optima reviews, as well as performance specs, interior dimensions, fuel economy ratings, and more, to give you all the information you need to make a smart car-buying decision.

U.S. News & World Report has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain impartial, we do not accept extravagant gifts from automakers, and an outside source handles our advertising.

How Much Is the 2018 Kia Optima?

Based on listings for the 2018 Kia Optima on our site, the average list price is $17,400, which is below average for the class. Prices range from $13,700 to $24,300 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Kia Optima Cost to Own?

The 2018 Optima's five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be about $22,520, or $4,504 per year. That’s slightly above average for a midsize car.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Optima?

The 2019 Kia Optima's starting price of $22,990 is near the top of a used 2018 Optima's price range, but the new model adds several standard driver assistance features. These include driver drowsiness monitoring, forward collision avoidance assist, lane departure warning, lane change assist, and lane keep assist. Stick with the 2018 Optima if you're satisfied with the solid list of safety features that it already provides. Shoppers interested in the latest safety tech should consider purchasing the 2019 Optima.

Read about the new Kia Optima »

The 2018 Optima is part of a generation that launched with the 2016 Optima. There were no major updates to the 2017 Optima, but substantial changes were made for the 2018 model year. The 2018 Optima gained a standard 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It also came with additional active safety features, including blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors. The 2018 model is the most well-rounded used Optima. Though you can save money by purchasing an older model, it won't be as well-equipped.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Optima »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Kia Optima?

J.D. Power gives the 2018 Kia Optima a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Read more about Optima reliability »

2018 Kia Optima Recalls

At the time of writing, there are no recalls for the 2018 Kia Optima.

See more information on Kia Optima safety recalls »

Which Used Kia Optima Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Kia Optima comes in five trims: LX, S, LX Turbo, EX, and SX. The base LX trim comes with a generous list of safety and technology features, making it a great pick for many shoppers. Standard features include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as blind spot monitoring. The base trim's engine has solid horsepower, provides decent acceleration, and delivers some of the best fuel economy figures in the class. For a peppier ride, consider the LX Turbo or SX trims. Both come with turbocharged engines that have deliver quicker acceleration.

  • Kia Optima LX 2.4: A 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine powers the base LX trim. This engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable front seats, and Kia's UVO infotainment system, which includes a 7-inch touch screen, six speakers, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and a USB port. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors are also standard.
  • Kia Optima S 2.4: The S trim comes with the same powertrain as the base trim, as well as cloth and synthetic leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. It also has sporty enhancements, including a rear spoiler and larger wheels.
  • Kia Optima LX 1.6T: The LX Turbo trim comes with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 178 horsepower and is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. In addition to the base LX trim's features, it comes with enhancements like a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
  • Kia Optima EX 2.4: The EX trim has the same powertrain as the base trim, as well as larger wheels, power-folding mirrors, LED daytime running lights and taillights, leather-trimmed seats, a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, a proximity key, and two additional USB ports.
  • Kia Optima SX 2.0T: The SX trim has a 245-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, sporty styling enhancements like exhaust chrome tips and red brake calipers, a sport-tuned suspension, Dynamic Bending Light headlights that improve visibility on winding roads, ventilated front seats, a 10-way power-adjustable passenger seat, and sport seats with black leather and red stitching.

See 2018 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.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the Optima?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2018 Optima the highest rating of Good in all crash tests performed, earning the midsize car a Top Safety Pick+ designation. Properly equipped Optimas earned the highest rating of Superior for front crash prevention. The SX trim with SX Technology package received the highest rating of Good for how well its headlights illuminate the road. The headlights in this trim without that package received the second-highest rating of Acceptable. The headlights in all other trims received the lowest rating of Poor.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 Optima an overall five-star rating out of five, with five stars in frontal crash, side crash, and rollover tests.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera
  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • rear parking sensors

Available advanced safety features:

  • autonomous emergency braking
  • forward collision warning
  • lane departure warning
  • adaptive cruise control
  • automatic high-beam headlights
  • surround-view camera

See Optima safety scores »

2018 Kia Optima Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Kia Optima or 2018 Honda Accord?

The completely redesigned 2018 Honda Accord is a more modern and well-rounded midsize car than the Optima. While both cars have ample passenger and cargo space, the Accord beats the Optima when it comes to performance, with a more fuel-efficient base engine and a more powerful available turbocharged engine. The Honda also has more agile handling and sharper steering. The Optima does have more standard tech features like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but the Accord has more standard safety features, including adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist.

Which Is Better: 2018 Kia Optima or 2018 Toyota Camry?

The redesigned-for-2018 Toyota Camry is one of the best midsize cars you can buy. This sedan's comfortable, yet agile ride makes it a joy to drive. It has great fuel efficiency and one of the most powerful base engines in the class. The available V6 engine also is one of the most potent in the segment. The Camry comes with a user-friendly infotainment system and more standard safety features than the Optima, such as lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. The only real downsides to the Camry are its small trunk and the absence of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Compare the Optima, Accord, and Camry »

2018 Kia Optima Performance

How Does the 2018 Kia Optima Drive?

The 2018 Optima's base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine has a good amount of power for most drivers. For shoppers seeking more power, there are two available turbo four-cylinder engines to choose between. The midlevel 1.6-liter four-cylinder offers a little more pep while also providing slightly better fuel economy figures than the already fuel-efficient base engine. The top-of-the-line 2.0-liter gets the most out of the Optima, but it doesn't compare very well to the top powertrains in the Accord and Camry. Both of those cars also have more engaging handling than the Optima.

  • Base engine: 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder
  • Available engines:
    • 178-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder
    • 245-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
  • Transmission: standard six-speed automatic; available seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Does the 2018 Kia Optima Get Good Gas Mileage?

The 2018 Kia Optima has great fuel economy figures among the midsize car class.

  • 2.4-liter four-cylinder: 25/36 mpg city/highway
  • 1.6-liter four-cylinder: 28/37 mpg
  • 2.0-liter four-cylinder: 22/31 mpg

Read more about Kia Optima performance »

2018 Kia Optima Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 Kia Optima Seat?

The 2018 Kia Optima sedan seats five people in two rows. There's plenty of space for adults in both rows, and the seats are comfortable and supportive. The Optima's cabin is made up of sturdy plastic and soft-touch materials. Comfort upgrades like heated and ventilated front seats are also available.

Standard seating features:

  • cloth upholstery
  • six-way manually adjustable front seats

Available seating features:

  • cloth and synthetic leather upholstery
  • leather-trimmed seats
  • 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat
  • 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat
  • 10-way power-adjustable passenger seat
  • heated front seats
  • ventilated front seats
  • sport seats with black leather and red stitching
  • leather-wrapped steering wheel
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Kia Optima?

The 2018 Kia Optima has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the system the second-highest rating of Acceptable for ease of use. The upper tethers are easy to access, but the lower anchors may be too deep in the seats.

2018 Kia Optima Features

The standard UVO infotainment system is easy to use. It comes with an intuitive touch screen, and traditional knobs are logically arranged on the center of the control panel.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, six speakers, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and a USB port
  • Available infotainment features: a Harman Kardon premium 10-speaker audio system and two extra USB ports
  • Other available features: dual-zone automatic climate control, a proximity key, and push-button start

See 2018 Kia Optima specs »

Read more about Kia Optima interior »

2018 Kia Optima Dimensions

Kia Optima Cargo Space

At 15.9 cubic feet, the 2018 Optima has one of the largest cargo capacities in the midsize car class. It comes standard with split-folding rear seats. An available proximity key opens the trunk automatically when you stand behind it with the key on your person.

2018 Kia Optima Length and Weight
  • Length: about 15 feet, 11 inches
  • Curb weight: about 3,220 to 3,360 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Kia Optima Built?

Kia built the 2018 Optima in Georgia.

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