DETROIT — The Kia Optima continues to be one of the most popular midsize sedans on the market. We had the 2017 edition but the basics of the sedan, the engine, transmission and sheet metal have not changed for the 2018 edition.
My test car was powered by a 2.0 turbocharged four-cylinder engine that made 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Fuel consumption numbers were 22 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg combined.
The car was quick, handled well and accelerated with some authority. It had an independent front suspension with MacPherson strut, coil springs and anti-roll bar. In the rear was an independent multi-link setup as well as coil springs and an anti-roll bar.
I found the Kia Optima to have a functional ride. In other words, it wasn’t harsh nor was it soft. The car smoothed out the bumps and asphalt lumps in the road when it needed to and there wasn’t much noise, vibration and harshness.
However, I did think there was a little too much wind noise going over the roof. But it was 5 a.m. and with the radio and climate controls off, it didn’t take much to break the silence.
At 3,500 lbs., the front-wheel-drive sedan was solid but wasn’t overbearing. The car felt pretty light on its treads and it was pretty nimble. I was impressed with the turning radius which was a relatively compact 35 feet.
The first thing that grabbed me when I opened the door of this test car was the rich chocolate brown quilted seats. It was something that I didn’t expect to see in this price range. They were comfortable front and rear. What’s more, the front pair were heated and cooled while rear outboard seats were heated.
The car had a panoramic roof, side window shades for the back windows and adaptive LED headlights.
There was practicality too. I had to take a side rail for a queen-size bed to a furniture shop for repair. I flipped down the rear seats and there was no problem getting it into the trunk and through the pass way of the 2017 Optima.
There was plenty of headroom in the back seats and hip room was ample. Leg space was adequate.
The Optima has a horizontal layout, one of the earliest vehicles to move in that direction. There was an infotainment touch screen for the satellite radio and the navigation system. There was a TFT screen between the odometer and speedometer.
There were other creature comforts that I was surprised to see in this car. This Optima had wireless charging, front collision warning, blind spot alert, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking and smart cruise control.
It had a rearview camera, with side traffic alert, rear parking assist, a surround view monitor, front camera and, of course, Bluetooth. There was a smart key with push-button start and stop. And it had Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
For $36,995, the Kia Optima is a well-equipped midsize sedan.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.