Published in CAR REVIEWS

2017 Kia Optima boasts impressive turbo power

Oct 30, 2017 Hit: 320 Written by 
The interior of the 2017 Kia Optima SX Limited is near luxury level.
The interior of the 2017 Kia Optima SX Limited is near luxury level. Photo courtesy of Kia

Despite the continuing rise of SUVs, to many carbuyers a sedan is still what they crave. So automakers can not afford to ignore this segment.

Kia recognizes that, and has paid close attention to its recently redesigned Optima sedan, which is larger than its compact Rio and Forte options, but just shy of the full-size Kia Cadenza sedan.

Kia needs to turn heads if it’s going to take a bite out of the top sellers in the segment. I recently spent some time in a 2017 Optima, and I’ll let you know how it holds up.


Standing out in this segment is hard, but Kia puts in a strong effort, particularly on the interior. You’ll find high-end stitched leather seating offered, and an overall roomy and comfortable interior that borders on a luxury feel.

The trunk space is quite generous, rear legroom is strong for the class, and front seats provide comfort even on long rides.
On the exterior it’s a decent effort too, though probably not best in class. I like the front of the vehicle and its grille and headlight design, but the remainder of the vehicle sort of blends in with the competition.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2017 Kia Optima SX Limited
  • Price as tested:: $36,985 (base price is $22,200)
  • Best feature:: High-powered turbo engine
  • Rating:: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Sedan buyers who want a bit of a boost from the norm in this segment.


My test vehicle was the top trim level of the Optima, an SX Limited, and featured a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine that offers 245 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque.

This is the top selling point of the Optima, the powerful turbo engine that gets you moving faster than most sedans on the market. I was genuinely surprised by the power it offered, in a pleasant way, as you don’t see that often in this segment. Handling and overall quietness of the ride also impressed.

Only concern was that I did find the Optima to be a bit jerky at times when I first got moving from a stop. The Optima is a front-wheel drive vehicle, and no all-wheel drive option is available.

The option of this powerful turbo engine makes it a standout in the midsize sedan segment, at least if power is what you’re looking for. Lower trim levels’ engine options include a 1.6-liter turbo (178 hp) and a 2.4-liter non-turbo (185 hp).


Kia’s UVO eServices infotainment setup in recent years is one of the most easy-to-use and user-friendly options on the market, and the setup on the Optima was no exception. Not only were physical buttons and the touchscreen easy to use, but voice commands also worked very well for navigation, phone and radio.

I also had the security of safety features such as: Front Collision Warning System, Blind Spot Detection System, Rear Parking Assist System, Lane Departure Warning System, Autonomous Emergency Braking System, Advanced Smart Cruise Control (one of my favorites, slowing the vehicle down if a car gets in your lane while you are using cruise control),  and Surround View Monitor, which shows an excellent view of what’s going on when you are backing out.

A Harmon Kardon premium surround sound system is also offered. And headlights on upper trim levels are now LEDs.

Official fuel mileage numbers on the Kia Optima are 22 city/31 highway/25 combined. In my experience in the Optima, I averaged 22.4 mpg.

This is one area where much of the competition does have the Optima SX Limited beat by a few mpg, but that’s not a surprise given the performance of the Optima’s turbo engine. Also, if you ditch the turbo on the Optima, and you are in the fuel mileage range of the competition.

It’s one of the scenarios where you may have to choose between the higher mpg and the more enjoyable ride the turbo would offer.

My test Optima came in just under $37,000 and was the top trim level; Base price for the Optima starts at just over $22,000, so there is definitely some range there depending what engine, options and trim level you choose. The price on the lower end is on part with most rivals, but the top trim level is among the more expensive in the segment. Most buyers will end up going with something inbetween.

If you want an upscale sedan with a powerful motor, the turbocharged Optima SX Limited is one I recommend you take for a test drive.

========= can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.


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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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