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Kia Optima and Optima Hybrid: Jalopnik's Buyer's Guide

Illustration for article titled Kia Optima and Optima Hybrid: Jalopnik's Buyer's Guide

The Kia Optima upholds Hyundai-Kia’s newfound reputation for building solid, feature-rich cars that offer true value. What do you need to know before you buy a Kia Optima? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in our Buyer’s Guide.

The third generation Optima is on its way out, with an all-new model ready to rock ‘n roll in 2016. And in a few paragraphs, we’re going to tell you to either wait for next year’s model, or score a great deal on the current one.

The latter suggestion will put you in a technically “out-dated” Optima, but that’s nothing to be ashamed of, because the Optima is good. Heck, almost everything from the Hyundai-Kia stable is good these days, so if you can score a great deal on the outgoing Optima (it’s a good deal even at full sticker price), it’s worth a look.


What’s New About The 2015 Kia Optima

Illustration for article titled Kia Optima and Optima Hybrid: Jalopnik's Buyer's Guide

The year was 2010 and Kia was nervously waiting at the New York Auto Show for the public’s reaction to their all-new 2011 Optima. The veil slowly lifted, Kia looked out at the crowd wondering what they would think. You could cut the tension with a knife. Then the car was completely exposed and the crowd went wild.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the 2011 Optima was a pretty darned good looking car, offering new powertrain options, new interior and exterior styling, and lots more tech. It had a lot to offer for its class, and it still does.


Changes to the Optima have been slight. 2012 saw changes to lighting, infotainment and audio options and 2013 brought changes to trim levels. But 2013 was a sad year for the Optima, as it brought the demise of the manual transmission option.

Kia made some changes to the front and rear fascias in 2014, and the interior also received a refresh and some new gadgetry. Not much is new for 2015.


Which One We’d Buy

There’s a new Optima out for 2016, so it’s worth waiting on that one unless you can get the current model for pennies.


The current Optima comes in five trims: LX, EX, SX, SX Turbo and SXL Turbo. The Optima hybrid comes in Hybrid and Hybrid EX trims. So if you’re looking to buy an Optima, you’ve got a total of seven Optima trims to choose from.

While the hybrid trim offers a humongous 11 MPG better than the gas-only four cylinder models in combined city/highway driving, we think the EX trim offers great value.


The EX costs $24,340, about $2,500 more than the base LX, but still over $1,500 less than the base Hybrid trim. But the EX is much better equipped than either of those models. It gets 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver’s seat, push-button start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and, most importantly, leather seats.

Yes, leather seats for 24 grand. Not bad at all.

[Build Your Own] [Build Your Own Hybrid]

Important Facts At A Glance:

MSRP: $21,840 - $32,150 Top Speed: ~150 MPH (2.0L turbo estimated)

Acceleration: ~6.0s to 60 [2.0L Turbo]

MPG: 36 city/ 40 hwy / 38 combined [Hybrid trim]

Engines: 2.0L turbo, 2.4L I4, 2.4L Hybrid I4

Max Horsepower/Torque: 274 hp/269 lb-ft [2.0L Turbo]

Curb Weight: ~3,237-3,622 pounds IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick

Transmissions: 6-speed Automatic

Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, FWD

Photo credit: Kia


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