It looks good for now but will get old quick

The current generation of the Kia Optima isn’t but a few years old, but its mid-cycle facelift came a little early this time around. As is the usual case, there isn’t a lot of change to discuss, but the updated optima does have a new front fascia, new headlight and taillight units, and a revised rear fascia insert that allows for repositioned reflectors and new exhaust outlets. Interior enhancements are limited to some changes to technology while there are no changes under the hood to speak of. With that said, there are still some interesting things to cover so let’s take a look at the finer details.

2019 Kia Optima Exterior Enhancements

Kia May be Trying a Little Too Hard in the Looks Department With the 2019 Optima
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While there’s not a lot going on with the 2019 Kia Optima, most of the new updates come courtesy of the exterior

While there’s not a lot going on with the 2019 Kia Optima, most of the new updates come courtesy of the exterior. New lights in the corners bring about revised LED layouts while the taillights see repositioned reverse lights. The front fascia is even more aggressive, with more emphasis around the air dam and larger inserts in the corners with revised fog lamps. The rear fascia gets a similar treatment with a more aggressive rear diffuser element more emphasis below the rear decklid. The rear reflectors have been moved from the lower insert to higher on the corners. Fortunately, the same sport-back like look carries over, leaving the 2019 Optima as a worthy competitor against more high-end models as far as looks are concerned.

2019 Kia Optima Technology Enhancements

Kia May be Trying a Little Too Hard in the Looks Department With the 2019 Optima
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At a glance, the interior of the 2019 Optima is indistinguishable from the previous year.

At a glance, the interior of the 2019 Optima is indistinguishable from the previous year. Be that is it may, there is some new technology here, or to be more specific, there’s an updated infotainment system. The display is still the same, so you get the same eight-inch screen from the UVO2 system, but the software has been updated to be much easier to use with what Kia is calling a “tiered system” that is easy to understand. LX models get the most basic system that includes Android Auto and Apple Carplay to go with voice recognition. S and EX-trim levels get the Link11 system that has car-connected security and other features like speed and maintenance alerts, on-demand diagnostics, and remote start. Then you’ve got the UVO Link system in the EX Premium Package, SX and SXL that includes all of the features of the systems below plus navigation with two years of free map updates.

2019 Kia Optima Performance

Kia May be Trying a Little Too Hard in the Looks Department With the 2019 Optima
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Kia hasn’t said much about on the performance front, but it did say that the EX gets a turbocharged engine with 178 horsepower

Kia hasn’t said much about on the performance front, but it did say that the EX gets a turbocharged engine with 178 horsepower. That’s most likely the 1.6-liter Turbo Four that delivered 178 ponies and 195 pound-feet. If that same engine carried over, then you can bet the others did as well. That means the base model will offer a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter with 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet while the range-topping models will get a 2.0-liter turbo four with 247 horsepower and 260 pound-feet. In the end, Kia could apply some minor tuning or tweaks to the 2.0-liter, but I wouldn’t hold my breath, and the other two engines will most certainly stay the same.

Final Thoughts

Kia May be Trying a Little Too Hard in the Looks Department With the 2019 Optima
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The Kia Optima is a respectable car, especially when you consider the fact that the brand was once an econobox supplier of subpar economy cars

The Kia Optima is a respectable car, especially when you consider the fact that the brand was once an econobox supplier of subpar economy cars that did nothing more than serve a purpose, aesthetics be damned. It’s hard not to hold Kia in contempt for that front fascia, however, as one could look at it as if the brand was trying a little too hard and it really shows up front. It doesn’t look bad, but there’s almost a little too much going on. This styling will last at least three more years until the point when it’s time for Kia to usher in a new generation but that front-end styling may become quite tiring and dated very quickly on a market where even brands like Mercedes and BMW are toning things down. Kia may have shown up just a little too late to the part here, but for now, it’s fresh and looks good, so we’ll leave it at that.

References

2016 Kia Optima
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Read our full review on the 2017 Kia Optima.

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Read more New York Auto Show news.

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Read more Kia news.

Press release

The refreshed 2019 Kia Optima debuted at the New York International Auto Show today. Kia’s best-selling midsize sedan was unveiled with new design cues inside and out, expanded ADAS technology, a new UVO infotainment strategy and available European-inspired red and black two-tone sport leather-trimmed seats. Additional available enhancements to the Optima line include new alloy wheel choices, ambient LED interior lighting, and a new Passion Red exterior color.

“The Optima continues to be one of our best-sellers for good reason; its stand-out design sets it apart from other cars in the midsize segment,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, Kia Motors America (KMA). “The 2019 refresh sharpens the overall design inside and out and we are making a number of ADAS technologies standard across the entire Optima line, which underlies the tremendous value Optima offers. A new approach to our award-winning telematics system, UVO, will make it easier for buyers to understand its features and UVO link includes an embedded modem. The new two-tone sport seats are for those looking to differentiate their Optima with unique European-inspired design cues.”

Proudly assembled* in the U.S. at Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) in West Point, Georgia, the 2019 Optima will go on sale later this year and will be offered in four trim variants: LX, S, EX, and SX. Pricing will be announced closer to the 2019 Optima’s on-sale date.

Design Enhancements

The 2019 Optima receives a number of redesigned interior and exterior elements. The LX comes standard with Stinger-inspired LED daytime running lights, a new 16-inch alloy wheel design and matte gray-finish grill.

A long list of enhancements to the affordable S model emphasize sportiness and technology, including: new projection beam fog lamps, LED taillights, dual exhaust, sport side sills with gloss black trim, a gloss-black grill and 18-inch alloy wheels. Standard push-button start, smart key, smart trunk and power front windows with auto up/down functionality add convenience.

The EX boasts the turbocharged 178-horsepower engine with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission with an adaptive Smart Shift drive mode. It also adds new leather seating surfaces with front seat heaters. A new 17-inch alloy wheel design and Smart Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go1 are standard. Similar to the S, the EX is equipped with standard fog lamps, LED taillights and dual exhaust. Available options include new ambient multicolor interior lighting, and a heated steering wheel.

Redesigned 18-inch wheels are standard on the SX and the SX Limited (SXL) package is available with Michelin 235/45R-18 tires. New LED fog lights, ambient interior lighting, sport steering wheel and Smart Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go functionality are standard on both SX and SXL variants. The SX features available European-styled red and black two-tone sport leather-trimmed seats, panoramic roof, a Harman Kardon®3 premium audio system with UVO link with Navigation, heated steering wheel, gloss black door pillars and side moldings, and a sport bumper with LED fog lamps. The SXL is available with a striking new two-tone bronze and black interior with Nappa leather seating surfaces.

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)

Offered as standard equipment across the Optima lineup are a number of ADAS1 features, a suite of technologies designed to work in concert to potentially lessen the severity of a collision or avoid it entirely. Under certain driving conditions, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA)1 can automatically apply the brakes to reduce speed, which may minimize the effects of a frontal collision. The Forward Collision Warning System (FCW)1 is designed to detect a potential collision with a vehicle it senses in front of the Optima and provides an audible warning and visual displays to alert the driver. Driver Attention Warning (DAW)4 monitors the driver and will provide visual and audible alerts if it senses the attention level has been significantly reduced. Lane Keep Assist (LKA)1 may apply corrective steering if it senses the vehicle drifting outside the intended lane, while the Lane Departure Warning (LDW)1 monitors the position of the Optima within its lane and warns the driver if it detects that the vehicle is deviating or about to deviate from the intended lane.

UVO Telematics and Infotainment

Since its introduction in 2013, Kia’s UVO telematics and infotainment system has made it easier than ever for owners to interact with their Kia vehicles and also stay connected. With ever-increasing functionality and in-vehicle entertainment options, KMA is restructuring UVO into an easy-to-understand tiered system and the 2019 Optima is the first Kia to launch with this approach.

UVO play is standard on the LX. Featuring Apple CarPlay®5 and Android Auto™6 capability, UVO play tethers the user’s compatible smartphone to the Optima’s audio system through a USB cable7. Via voice recognition8, drivers may use their compatible Apple9 or Android10 smartphones for navigation, to make calls, send and receive messages, and listen to music all in a way that allows the driver to stay more focused on driving.

UVO link11, available as standard equipment on S, and EX models, offers an extended suite of connected-car security and convenience features. UVO link includes Apple CarPlay5 and Android Auto6 support and adds features such as on-demand diagnostics12, maintenance alerts, vehicle alarm notifications, geo fencing and speed alerts. Similar to the K900 luxury sedan, convenience features such as remote start with HVAC control13, remote lock/unlocking, and remote activation of the horn and lights are all included in UVO link.

The top-tier UVO link with Navigation is offered optionally on the EX with Premium Package and standard on the SX and SXL. Standard with all the features in UVO play and UVO link, UVO link with Navigation adds MY POIs and Map Care, which allows for two free map updates per year14.

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