Two new engines, updated appearances, and updated safety tech for 2019

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Kia Motors Europe is giving the Optima and Optima Sportswagon a mild mid-cycle refresh for the 2019 model year. The cars will go on display at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show March 6 and will go on sale in Europe starting in the third quarter of 2018.

While the visual modifications are light, the 2019 Optima Sportswagon adds two new engines to its current lineup. These are designed to expand the Optima’s range and appeal, on top of the current plug-in hybrid powertrain and the sporty GT variant.

Continue reading for more on the 2019 Kia Optima Sportswagon.

2019 Kia Optima Sportswagon Exterior

  • Updated grille design
  • New wheel options
  • New LED headlights & taillights
  • New “Runway Red” body color
2019 Kia Optima Sportswagon
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The front fascia receives a slightly updated Tiger Nose grille, a new lower fascia updated LED headlights, and new LED fog lights

Kia has kept the visual updates rather light for 2019. The front fascia receives a slightly updated Tiger Nose grille, a new lower fascia updated LED headlights, and new LED fog lights. New LED taillights join the fray, as do new wheel options ranging from 16-, 17,- and 18-inches. The rear bumper is updated, too, but only on the Optima Sedan.

The sporty GT model gets two-toned, multi-spoke 18-inch wheels with gloss black accents on the grille, mirror caps, and side sills. The GT’s rear bumper has a faux air diffuser with a handsome dual exhaust tip with chrome finishers.

2019 Kia Optima Sportswagon Interior

  • New steering wheel design
  • New satin chrome trim on dash
  • New Ambient lighting package with six colors
  • 19 cubic feet of space in trunk
  • 60/40-split folding second-row bench
2019 Kia Optima Sportswagon
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Customers can choose between cloth and leather upholstery, with colors including black, a two-tone black and gray, and a new brown leather

Kia didn’t pony up some fancy interior renovations for 2019 but rather is kept the status quo – at least for the most part. The interior’s overall design doesn’t change, though a new steering wheel and satin chrome trim are added, with the trim extending from the dash to the center console.

Customers can choose between cloth and leather upholstery, with colors including black, a two-tone black and gray, and a new brown leather. Ambient mood lighting is also new for 2019, with six colors to toggle through. The driver can also assign colors to the different drive modes. For example, the car comes pre-programmed to glow green in Eco mode, red in Sport mode, and blue in Normal mode.

The GT trim offers up two-tone black and red leather seats or black leather seats with red contrast stitching. The seats come with the GT logo embroidered into the seatbacks with either black or gray stitching, depending on the base seat color. GT models also have the GT logo at the six O’clock position on the new flat-bottom steering wheel.

2019 Kia Optima Sportswagon Performance

  • New 1.6-liter diesel
  • New 1.6-liter turbo-four gasoline
  • New Drive Modes
  • Two carryover 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines
  • Plug-in Hybrid powertrain
  • Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Front-wheel drive
2019 Kia Optima Sportswagon
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Two new engines join alongside two 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines and a plug-in hybrid powertrain for a more well-rounded powertrain lineup.

The 2019 Kia Optima’s biggest updates happen under its hood. Two new engines join alongside two 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines and a plug-in hybrid powertrain for a more well-rounded powertrain lineup.

The first new engine is the “U3” 1.6-liter CRDi, or common-rail direct injection, diesel engine. This non-turbo diesel is designed to be cleaner and more efficient than the outgoing 1.7-liter CRDi. It does this with a Selective Catalytic Reduction system that reduces tailpipe emissions of C02, particulate matter, and NOx. The engine makes a humble 134 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque.

The second new mill is also a 1.6-liter, though this one runs on gasoline and uses a turbo to generate boost for an output of 178 horsepower. It’s called the 1.6 T-GDi, which stands for turbocharged gasoline direct injection. The turbo-four slots between the naturally aspirated 161-horsepower 2.0-liter CVVL four-cylinder and the 242-horsepower 2.0-liter T-GDi found in the Optima GT. Regardless of the powertrain, Kia’s seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is the standard transmission. It includes paddle shifters for manual control, too.

Adding to the driving fun is a new Drive Mode Selector, which gives drivers a say in how the Optima Sportswagon performs. The modes include Eco, Comfort, Sport, and “Smart Mode,” which is basically an automatic mode that allows the computer to determine the driver’s current driving style. The 2019 Optima Sportswagon comes only in front-wheel drive.

Fuel economy figures have not been announced, but count on improvements from the two new engines.

Engine ‘U3’ 1.6-litre CRDi 1.6-litre T-GDi 2.0-litre CVVL 2.0-litre T-GDi
Horsepower 134 HP 178 HP 161 HP 242 HP
Torque 236 LB-FT @ 2,000-2,500 RPM

2019 Kia Optima Sportswagon Pricing

2019 Kia Optima Sportswagon
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Kia has not released pricing for the 2019 Optima and Optima Sportswagon models. For the 2018 model year, the Optima Sportswagon starts at £22,455, or roughly $31,200 U.S. dollars at current exchange rates. The Optima Sportswagon GT starts at £30,755, which converts to roughly $42,700.

We expect these figures to slightly increase for two reasons: one, to keep up with inflation, and two, to explore a slightly higher price range since Optima Sportswagon sales rose by 9,600 examples in 2017, totaling more than 16,800 units sold.

2019 Kia Optima Sportswagon Competition

2018 Ford Mondeo Estate

2013 Ford Mondeo High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Like the Kia Optima Sportswagon, the Modeo Estate is the wagon version of the Mondeo. Ford offers the Mondeo Estate in five trim levels, including the base Zetec Edition, Titanium Edition, ST-Line, ST-Line Edition, and the range-topping Vignale. Ford does have a gasoline hybrid model of the Modeo, but isn’t offered with the Estate, meaning Ford can’t directly compete with the Kia Optima Sportswagon PHEV.

The Mondeo Estate is offered with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder making 237 horsepower and a 2.0-liter Duratorq turbodiesel four-cylinder with a choice of 148, 178, or 207 horsepower. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. AWD is available with the 178-horsepower tune.

Prices range from £19,445 ($27,000) for the Zetec Edition to £27,545 ($38,000) for the Vignale trim.

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Mondeo Estate.

Volkswagen Passat Estate

An ever-popular option in Europe is the Volkswagen Passat Estate. This five-door wagon offers room for five and plenty of stuff. Fold the rear seats down and the wagon will compete with any crossover for cargo room. The Passat Estate comes in eight trim levels ranging from the humble S to the GTE Advance. Prices swing just as wildly, too, with the S starting at £23,625 ($32,800) and surpassing £42,685 ($60,000) with all the options ordered.

Power comes from two engines: a 1.6-liter TDI four-cylinder making 118 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque and a 1.4-liter TSI gasoline four-cylinder with two tuning versions. The base tune makes 123 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque while the upper tune makes 148 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. Both manual and automatic gearboxes are offered.

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Passat Estate


2019 Kia Optima Sportswagon
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Kia’s changes to the 2019 Optima Sportswagon are minimal on the outside but important and in-depth under the hood. The new engine lineup gives Kia customers plenty of options and a good chance they’ll find something that suits their individual needs.

Sadly, Kia won’t offer the Optima Sportswagon in North America – but not because it isn’t acting wisely. Americans just don’t buy wagons like they used to. While we’ve seen a slight resurgence thanks to models from Buick and others, the new car market is too infatuated with crossovers to concern itself with wagons. That’s a shame, of course, since these sedan-based wagons offer more comfort, more room, better fuel economy, less chance of roll-over, and easy entry and exiting than high-riding crossovers.

Wagons don’t pretend to be off-road capable, either, saving weight by foregoing skid plates, and fancy 4WD systems that 90 percent of crossover and SUV owners won’t ever use. The practicality level is simply higher than most crossovers for most people. Our European neighbors know this and automakers cater to them. Here in America, the car-buying public can’t get enough of the high-riding posers.

  • Leave it
    • Visual changes are very minimal
    • Not offered in North America
    • Likely more expensive than before


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

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

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Read more Geneva Motor Show news.

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Read more Kia news.

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
About the author

Kia Motors Europe has introduced a range of design enhancements and new engines for the new Kia Optima. Sold in Europe as a sedan or Sportswagon, the car makes its debut at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show, and is due on sale across Europe in Q3 2018.

  • Optima offers new ‘U3’ 1.6-litre CRDi engine with lower, cleaner emissions
  • Powertrain line-up bolstered by addition of 1.6-litre T-GDi gasoline engine
  • Revised exterior and interior design for spacious sedan and Sportswagon
  • Equipped with the latest technology and safety features, including Driver Attention Warning and Lane Keeping Assist
  • Available with new high-resolution Around View Monitor parking camera
  • Upgraded Optima sedan and Sportswagon on-sale in Europe in Q3 2018

The Optima range benefits from two new powertrain options: Kia’s all-new ‘U3’ 1.6-litre CRDi (common-rail direct injection) diesel engine, and a 1.6-litre T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) engine. As well as refreshed exterior and interior design, the new Optima also features Kia’s latest active safety and in-car connectivity technologies.

Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer of Kia Motors Europe, commented: “The Optima enjoyed a record year of sales in Europe in 2017, with sales growing from 9,600 to more than 16,800 units last year. It is a key contributor to Kia’s sustainable growth in Europe, and the Optima’s sales momentum has been maintained through the introduction of new variants in 2017. These include Sportswagon and high-performance GT variants, and an ultra-low emissions Plug-in Hybrid powertrain.

“With a model to meet every requirement, the Optima’s refreshed design, new engines and expanded range of technologies will further broaden its appeal, for corporate and private buyers alike.”

Powertrain: low emissions from lightweight turbocharged engines

The Optima is now available with Kia’s all-new ‘U3’ diesel engine, designed to go beyond the stricter limits laid down by the Euro 6d TEMP emissions standard. The new ‘U3’ 1.6-litre CRDi (common-rail direct injection) replaces the earlier 1.7-litre CRDi engine. The new engine employs Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) active emissions control technology to significantly reduce emissions. The new engine therefore produces low carbon dioxide, particulate matter and NOx emissions. The powertrain produces 136ps and 320 Nm of torque across a 2,000-2,250 rpm engine range.

A new addition to the range, the Optima is also available with Kia’s 180ps 1.6-litre T-GDi engine for the first time. The lightweight turbocharged engine offers buyers a new gasoline powertrain option between the naturally-aspirated 163ps 2.0-litre CVVL (Continuously-Variable Valve Lift) engine and the 245ps 2.0-litre T-GDi which powers the high-performance Optima GT. The new 180ps 1.6-litre T-GDi is paired with Kia’s smooth-shifting seven-speed double-clutch transmission, which lets drivers change gear using steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.

A new Drive Mode Selector lets Optima drivers switch between Eco, Comfort, Sport and Smart modes. Each mode enables the driver to customise the powertrain’s responses, prioritising fuel economy or more immediate acceleration. It also lets drivers adapt the weight of the rack-mounted power steering system, for more relaxed or more immediate, engaging steering responses. ‘Smart Mode’ is designed to anticipate the driver’s needs, switching automatically between Eco, Comfort and Sport modes depending on conditions. This enables the Optima to adapt to the driver’s behaviour and the road conditions, pre-empting the driver’s preference for different speeds and driving environments.

Updated exterior and interior design

Kia’s designers have made a series of modifications to the Optima’s exterior design. These include a revised front bumper design, as well as new LED tail-lamps and a revised design for the head- and fog lamps. Sedan models also feature a new rear bumper design. The ‘tiger-nose’ grille features a new bright chrome finish to create a more sophisticated, purposeful appearance. A new paint colour, ‘Runway Red’, is available, as well as new designs for the Optima’s 16-,17-, and 18-inch aluminium alloy wheels.

Inside, the cabin features a newly-designed steering wheel and satin-chrome trim on the centre console which extends across the dashboard. Buyers can specify their interior in black, two tone black and grey cloth or leather, or choose a new brown cloth or leather upholstery.

In addition, the Optima features new ambient lighting around the dashboard and doors, letting occupants switch between six different colours – or assign different colours to individual driving modes. By default, cabin lighting floods the cabin in a soft green glow in Eco mode, while Sport mode turns lighting to red. Smart mode fills the interior with soft blue ambient lighting.

Design updates to GT and GT Line variants

Kia has also modified the design of the Optima GT Line and high-performance Optima GT. For added style and on-road presence, GT and GT Line models feature new LED fog lamps, 18-inch aluminium alloy wheel designs, and subtle gloss black mirror caps, side sills and air intake grille. GT Line models are distinguished by distinctive new dual twin exhausts, while the Optima GT is fitted with chrome twin exhaust tips.

The interior features the same improvements to material quality and trim as the standard car, while the seats are now available in two-tone black and red leather. Black leather with contrasting red stitching is also available. The GT has front seats embroidered with subtle GT logos in contrast black or grey stitching, depending on the choice of upholstery.

Safety: new active safety features available

The Optima is available with Kia’s latest Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) creating an intelligently safe vehicle with active safety technologies to avoid or mitigate the effects of collisions.

The Optima’s new Driver Attention Warning (DAW) system combats distracted or drowsy driving by monitoring a number of inputs from the vehicle and driver. It sounds a warning chime and displays a graphic in the instrument binnacle if it senses a lapse in concentration from the driver. In Europe, driver fatigue is believed to be a key factor in up to a quarter of all fatal traffic accidents across the continent*. The USA’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. In the USA, this results in an estimated 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries annually.**

Other safety features available on the Optima include: Forward Collision-avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian recognition***, Lane Keeping Assist (LKA); High Beam Assist (HBA), and full LED headlamps with Dynamic Bending Light. These technologies make the Optima one of the safest cars in its class.

Technology: connected touchscreen infotainment and around view monitoring

The new Optima is available with Kia’s latest 7.0- or 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with navigation and Kia Connected Services powered by TomTom®. The system offers Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ to enable full smartphone integration. Android Auto™ is designed to work with Android phones running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher; Apple CarPlay™, for iPhone 5 or newer. Within the centre console is a wireless smartphone charger, allowing users to charge their smartphones on the move.

The infotainment system is linked to the Optima’s new higher-resolution Around View Monitor (AVM) camera system. The system uses cameras at the front, rear and sides of the vehicle to provide the driver with a 360-degree view of their surroundings, making it easier to complete low-speed parking manoeuvres.

Upgraded Optima sedan and Sportswagon on-sale in Q3 2018

Backed by the company’s quality promise, the new Kia Optima is sold as standard with the company’s unique 7-Year, 150,000 km warranty. The upgraded Optima sedan and Sportswagon go on sale across Europe in Q3 2018.

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