2020 Optima New Car Test Drive
The 2020 Kia Optima is a safety-conscious and well-equipped mid-size sedan with a broad lineup including two hybrid models, regular and plug-in, available in select West Coast markets. It has pleasing looks outside; on the inside, it offers a winning infotainment system but slimmer rear head room, a result of the sleek roofline.
For 2020, every Optima comes standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control, as well as many airbags. Adaptive cruise control comes on the top models. The Optima also comes with an industry-best 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Base LX and S Optimas use a 2.4-liter inline-4 making 185 horsepower, while the EX models use a 1.6-liter turbo-4 making a few less horses, at 178 hp, but has quicker acceleration thanks to the turbo. The Optima SX uses a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 245 hp.
The Hybrids use an inline-4 paired with batteries and an electric motor to bring gas mileage ratings into the 40-mpg range. The plug-in hybrid can go nearly 30 miles on electricity alone.
All Optimas offer a comfortable, spacious cabin with materials that range from okay to upscale.
The Optima 4-cylinder is EPA-rated at 24 mpg city, 32 highway, 27 combined. The EX with its turbo-4 gets an impressive 27/37/31 mpg. With the powerful Optima SX those numbers drop to just 21/30/24 mpg.
The Hybrids are impressive: 40/45/42 mpg for the standard model, while the Plug-In Hybrid rates 41 mpg combined and 101 MPGe with a full charge, as well as a 28-mile all-electric range. However, both hybrids are available only in certain markets in the Western U.S.
In crash tests, the NHTSA gives the Optima five stars overall, with four stars for passenger-side frontal impact. The insurance industry-funded IIHS rated last year's Optima a Top Safety Pick+, but only with the LED headlights fitted to the Optima SX.
For 2020, the Kia Optima lineup includes the LX, S, EX, EX Premium, and SX trim levels. Last year's lush SX Limited with its quilted nappa leather seats has been discontinued.
The Optima LX is well-equipped for around $24,000, including an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, power features, and alloy wheels, plus the active safety features.
For around $25,000, the Optima S strikes a nice balance between price and features. It adds 18-inch wheels, fog lights, a power driver seat, keyless ignition, and a few tweaks to exterior trim.
At the far end of the lineup, the SX costs about $33,000 and includes a 245-hp turbo-4, leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, navigation, 10 Harman Kardon speakers,
a power panoramic moonroof, and adaptive cruise control.
The Optima Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid only come in EX trim, including leather seats (heated in front), power moonroof, and more. The Hybrid is about $30,300, plus $4,500 more for a package with a panoramic moonroof, Harman Kardon speakers, LED lights, cooled front seats, and more. The Plug-In Hybrid costs $37,000 and tops $40,000 with that same option package.