2004 Optima New Car Test Drive
The Kia Optima is a remarkably good car for the price. Kia offers a strong value when compared against the big Japanese brands. You get a lot for your money, and unlike earlier Korean attempts at building a mid-size sedan, the Optima achieves a level of sophistication in its engine and chassis that is competitive for its size, and not just its price. For 2004, the Optima's styling is more sophisticated as well, with a new front end that gives the whole car a more subtle appearance.
The available V6 engine is exceptionally smooth, and works well with the four-speed automatic transmission that comes with it. The Optima's refined and unruffled road manners will please most of the people who are in the market for mid-size family transportation.
Kia Optima is based on the platform of the current Hyundai Sonata and shares the Sonata's engine and suspension layout; if you like one, you'll no doubt like the other. But the Optima offers unique styling, sharing no body panels with the Sonata and offers different features.
The 2004 Kia Optima comes in two trim levels, LX and EX, with a choice of four-cylinder engine or V6 in either.
Optima LX ($15,500) is powered by a 138-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and comes complete with air conditioning; cruise control; rear defroster: six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo; eight-way manually adjustable driver's seat; power windows, mirrors and locks; front-seat side-impact airbags; four-wheel-disc brakes; and P205/60 all-season tires on 15-inch steel wheels. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, a four-speed automatic ($920) optional.
The LX V6 ($17,895) gets a 2.7-liter V6 rated at 170 horsepower. The automatic transmission is standard, along with woodgrain interior trim and P205/55 Michelin tires on 16-inch aluminum wheels.
The four-cylinder Optima EX ($18,095) adds a tilt-and-slide glass sunroof, electronic climate control, Infinity AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo, fog lights, HomeLink universal transmitter, heated outside mirrors, self-dimming inside mirror, remote keyless entry with alarm, eight-way power driver's seat, leather wrappers for the steering wheel and shift knob, and other appointments. It also comes with aluminum wheels, but they are 15-inch units wearing the base-level P205/60 tires. The four-speed automatic is the only transmission available.
The EX V6 ($19,495) comes with all the above: the 170-horsepower V6, 16-inch wheels and tires, and all the EX-level luxury goodies.
The list of factory options is short. Anti-lock brakes ($795) are available only with the V6. Leather seating ($1095) is offered only on the EX. Port-installed accessories include a CD changer ($375), carpeted floor mats ($85), and a rear spoiler ($220).
All Optimas come with Kia's 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and 5-year/60,000 mile basic warranty, plus a 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance plan.