The Kia Optima always offers a strong value proposition, but the current generation model takes it one step further with an upscale cabin and all the latest luxury features that buyers can expect from midsize sedans. Competitive prices, strong warranty, a number of new standard features keep the 2018 Kia Optima competing for the top-class even when Toyota and Honda coming out with redesigned Camry and Accord this year.
Arranging last year’s trim level and package requires a lot of charts and stars, but Kia has wisely consolidated the options for this year. Prices on the LX base model have hardly changed, but blind-spot monitoring, rear parking sensors and touchscreens have all been standard features. In fact, most trims receive additional features for 2018. There are enhancements for the top-trim SX, which now adds a panoramic sunroof and ventilated seats among available upgrades.
Apart from its rich value, the 2018 Kia Optima still carries some drawbacks. Headroom is tight because of the car’s sloping roofline, and passengers will feel more pinched with the sunroof. Rear-out visibility is compromised by the roof, and the non-SX model isn’t much fun to drive. However, we strongly recommend the 2018 Kia Optima to anyone looking for an affordable family sedan with an attractive look and abundant features.
For 2018, the Optima has reduced its dizzying list of trims and packages. Blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, a 7-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now standard on all 2018 Kia Optima. A new, sport-themed S trim stand between LX and EX models. The SXL trim has been discontinued, but buyers can pick the SX with the Limited package to re-create the experience.
Trim levels and features
The 2018 Kia Optima is a five-passenger midsize sedan that offered in five trim levels: the base LX, LX 1.6T, S, EX and SX.
Standard equipment for the base LX includes 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, remote locking and unlocking, heated mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, height-adjustable front seats with two-way power lumbar adjustment for the driver, a driver information display, a 60/40-split rear seat, a 7-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, a USB port, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, HD and satellite radio, and a six-speaker audio system. Standard safety features include blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera.
The optional Convenience package adds noise-reducing front window glass and a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat with two-way power lumbar.
The LX 1.6T adds a turbocharged engine, unique wheels, a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel and the Convenience package contents.
The new S trim combines the LX 1.6T features with the engine and transmission of the LX. It also adds 17-inch wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler, LED taillights, cloth and leather upholstery. The optional Panoramic Sunroof package adds gloss black exterior accents and a panoramic sunroof, while the Panoramic Sport package includes these features plus larger front brakes and 18-inch wheels.
The 2018 Kia Optima EX lost the spoiler and foglights, but it adds keyless entry and ignition, LED daytime running lights, illuminated door handles, power-folding mirrors, a hands-free unlocking trunk, interior chrome accents, dual-zone automatic climate control, driver-seat memory settings, four-way power lumbar for the driver, heated front seats, leather upholstery, rear air vents, and two charge-only rear USB ports.
The EX optional Premium package adds a panoramic sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, ventilated front seats and a 10-way passenger seat with two-way power lumbar. The Technology includes the Premium pack items plus a sport body kit, larger front brakes, LED foglights, adaptive cruise control, an electronic parking brake, an 8-inch touchscreen, navigation and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning system is also included.
The 2018 Kia Optima SX has a more powerful turbocharged engine and equipped similarly to the EX with Premium package. It also gets some upgrades such as 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, dual exhaust tips, a rear spoiler, LED foglights, adaptive LED headlights, a flat-bottom steering wheel with wheel-mounted shift paddles, a larger driver information display and a temporary spare tire.
The SX Technology package basically mirrors the EX Technology package, but it also includes automatic high-beam control. The Limited package adds a 360-degree parking camera system, chrome wheels and exterior trim, a heated steering wheel, a premium headliner, upgraded leather upholstery, heated rear seats, and rear window sunshades.
Every 2018 Kia Optima is front-wheel drive. The base LX, S and EX is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting mode is standard. In performance testing, the Optima EX accelerates from zero to 60 mph in a respectable 7.5 seconds. EPA fuel economy rating at 28 mpg combined (24 city/34 highway).
The LX 1.6T comes standard with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 178 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. It’s paired to a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission, which effectively operates as an automatic. In track testing, the 2018 Kia Optima LX 1.6T went to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, a bit quicker than average. Fuel economy is impressive, at 31 mpg combined (28 city/37 highway).
The 2018 Kia Optima SX get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 245 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Kia pairs this engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. In performance testing, the Optima SX hit 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, which is a slightly below-average time for a midsize sedan with an upgraded engine. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 25 mpg combined (22 city/31 highway).
Go inside, you will find a handsome, spacious interior that, although not too impressive, is very functional and accessible. Like other vehicles in this segment, there are many soft-touch plastics, but there are still hard touch points around the central stack and the door armrests. Front seats are comfortable, although they don’t offer much lateral support. The SX model features quilted leather upholstery with a quality that clearly aims higher than typical midsize sedan offerings
Taller passengers may have difficulty finding a comfortable sitting position in the back, since the dashing roofline reduces the headroom. The panoramic sunroof available on upper trim allows taller front passenger to sympathize with those in the back, as it also cuts into the headroom. On the good side, there is a lot of legroom around and the seats are wide enough. The trunk capacity is 15.8 cubic feet, which competes with the Optima closest rivals
The 8-inch touchscreen has large, easy-to-press virtual buttons and sharp, readable graphics. The 2018 Kia Optima also uses physical buttons to navigate top-level functions, since they require less concentration to operate accurately and safely on the road. Smartphone integration comes thanks to Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Release Date and Price
The official price for the base Optima LX starting at 23,395 (including $895 destination charge). The S carries a price-tag of $24,395, while the LX 1.6T cost $25,195. The EX beginning at $26,495 and the range-topping SX starts at $31,395.