2015 Kia Optima Expert Review

4.3 Overall Score
Performance 3.9 Comfort 3.8 Styling 4.1 Value 4.1

Editor's Overview

The 2015 Kia Optima family sedan shines with a dazzling array of features and options that elude even some premium luxury brands. The Optima pampers its occupants, is easy on fuel and, with the available turbocharger under the hood, goes like nobody’s business and does it all for less than $30,000.

You'll Like The 2015 Kia Optima If...

Looking for a practical family sedan that doesn’t look like a practical family sedan? You have a few cars from which to choose, but none as feature packed as the 2015 Kia Optima.

You May Not Like The 2015 Kia Optima If...

If you’re looking for the security of all-wheel drive (AWD), it’s best to plan test-driving a Ford Fusion or Subaru Legacy. Those who need maximum rear-seat legroom might be happier with a Volkswagen Passat, or the larger-overall Chevy Impala or Ford Taurus.

What's New

The cruise-control buttons are moved to the right side steering wheel spoke and acoustic laminated windshield glass is now standard on all but the LX trim, which offers it as an option. The UVO2 telematics system is upgraded to include parenting features: speed alerts, curfew reminders and Geo Fencing.

Interior Features

On upper-end EX and SX trims, customers can opt for such extravagant features as a dual-panel moonroof, heated and cooling front seats, heated rear seats and a voice-activated navigation and infotainment system similar to Ford’s SYNC. While we love the look of the 2015 Kia Optima sedan’s interior, some of the plastic on the dash and steering wheel still lack the quality look and feel found in Honda, Mazda and even some GM and Ford products. The front seats are pretty comfortable for tall folks, but the Optima’s sharply raked rear roofline may cause some headroom issues for the rear-seat passengers.

Exterior Features

Looking a bit like something from the sci-fi movie Tron, Kia’s 2015 Optima is a bold and original piece of work from the ground up. From its cross-hatch front grille and long sweptback headlight housing, to the red brake calipers on the SX-T trim, the Optima looks like it’s going fast even when it’s parked. There is a duality about the Optima sedan for 2015, speaking to both luxury and performance all while masking its true nature to serve duty as a humble family sedan. Even base trims offer such nice features as heated side mirrors, chrome door-handle inserts and 16-inch wheels.

Driving Impressions

Deriving a favorable impression of the 2015 Kia Optima sedan requires only about five minutes behind the wheel, an open road and no salesman along to spoil your fun. The base 2.4-liter engine delivers a smooth, quiet and willing performance while sipping gasoline. Despite the car's racy appearance, the Optima’s suspension is set up more for comfort than cornering, and not quite up to the standards set by the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200. Around town, the steering is heavily weighted, but at cruising speeds it feels quite nice. The Optima Hybrid uses the same 2.4-liter engine, only it's paired with an electric motor that significantly improves both efficiency and off-the-line acceleration. Unlike some competitors, the Optima doesn’t make a V6 engine or AWD available, but the SX trim does offer a robust 274-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that turns this comfortable cruiser into an asphalt abusing bruiser.

Pricing Notes

The 2015 Kia Optima sedan starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $22,500 and stretches past $38,000 when fully loaded. The 2015 Optima Hybrid starts just around $30,000. Feature for feature, the Kia Optima sedan offers more for the money than the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion. Before heading to your local Kia dealer, be sure and check our Fair Purchase Price to see what the 2015 Optima is selling for in your area. As for resale value, we expect the Optima to hold its value better than the Ford Fusion, Dodge Avenger and Chevy Malibu, and to be only a few percentage points shy of the segment-leading Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

Notable Equipment

Every 2015 Kia Optima family sedan offers Bluetooth phone connectivity, iPod/USB audio connectivity, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, heated side mirrors, fog lights, tilt/telescopic steering column, 6-way power driver’s seat and a cooling glove box that keeps drinks chilled. As for safety, the Optima has an impressive array of features including six airbags and electronic stability control. Like other base-priced models in its class, the entry-level Optima includes 16-inch steel wheels and a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Notable Options

Optional equipment includes a panoramic moonroof, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, Nappa leather seating, 8-speaker Infinity sound system, HID headlights, LED fog lights, touch-screen navigation system, push-button start with Smart Key, UVO2 infotainment voice-active system, Blind Spot Detection and rearview camera. In addition to a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, the top SX and SX Limited models offer a lightly sport-tuned suspension and more aggressive styling cues. The 2015 Optima Hybrid features lightweight wheels in standard 16-inch or sporty 17-inch size, as well as the EcoMinder LCD panel with graphics that show when the car is achieving maximum fuel economy.

Favorite Features


Even though the design is a few years old, the 2015 Kia Optima sedan still looks as fresh and new as the day it first arrived. We think it looks even better than some luxury sedans costing twice as much.


V6? We don’t need no stinking V6! The Optima’s available 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivers 274 horsepower for a thrilling 0-to-60-mph run, yet still earns an EPA-estimated 31 mpg on the highway.

Under the Hood

The 2015 Kia Optima sedan doesn’t offer the option of a V6, and why should it? The standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder is nearly as powerful as some V6 engines and gets far better fuel economy. In fact, it has more power and better fuel economy than some 4-cylinder cars in the category, as well. Those wanting more power can opt for the turbocharged 2.0 liter (SX trims only). Only one transmission is offered: a 6-speed Sportronic automatic with manual-shift mode. However, on SX trims a Drive Mode Select option adjusts the transmission’s shift points and the power steering input to better suit the driver’s needs. The Optima Hybrid uses the 2.4-liter engine mated to a 40-horsepower electric motor for a combined output of 206 horsepower.

2.4-liter inline-4

192 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm

181 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/34 mpg

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4

274 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

269 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/31 mpg

2.4-liter hybrid inline-4 + electric motor/generator

166 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

40 horsepower @ 1,400-6,000 rpm (electric motor)

154 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm

152 lb-ft of torque @ 0-1,400 rpm (electric motor)

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 36/40 mpg

Editors' Notes

Stealing away one of Germany’s most prized automotive designers is only half the reason for Kia’s recent success. There’s an engineering and customer satisfaction story to tell too, and no car tells it better than the 2015 Kia Optima sedan. Four doors never looked so sexy – at least not wearing a sub-$23,000 price tag. From its aggressive front end to its distinctive silhouette, the Optima turns heads and flusters the competition. The Kia Optima is no one trick pony, either. Slick styling and a powerful engine usually require sacrificing some interior comfort to help keep the price in line, but not so with the Optima. Options like a panoramic moonroof and heated rear seats come as pleasant surprises, as does the Optima’s 10-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Road Test Video Reviews

2015 Kia Optima Owner Reviews

410 Reviews
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The Kia optima is the perfect everyday, family car.

2015 Kia Optima LX

The Kia optima is a very smooth drive. I have driven it from southern california to west virginia. It was a 4 day trip and we were very comfortable inside the car. . Some of my favorite features include the notifications on the dashboard. For example, when you have low tire pressure, the dashboard will indicate exactly which tire needs air. When a passenger in the car does not have their seatbelt fastened, it will tell you exactly which one isn't buckled. . Another thing I really enjoy about my car is how fast the heater/ac works. It usually takes less than a minute even on the hottest/ coldest days of the year. . When coming onto the freeway/highway, it is not difficult to get to the speed limit on the highway quickly. (smooth and fast acceleration). The bluetooth feature in the car allows for easy command. (making phone calls, playing songs, etc. ) One thing I do not like about the bluetooth is that it can be hard for the bluetooth to understand your command sometimes. (especially if you're driving on the freeway). . When the gas light comes on, it will indicate how many miles you have left before your car will completely run out. Usually that averages about 50 miles depending on the type of driving you do and what the roads look like that you're driving on. . Having buttons on the steering wheel to help control radio, bluetooth, cruise control, etc is very helpful and convenient. . The inside of the car is very spacious and easy to keep clean. The trunk space is very large and helpful on family grocery shopping trips. . One thing I did not like about the car when purchasing it was the fact that it did not come with a spare tire, instead it came with a tire repair kit. . Over all, it is great for an everyday family car.

- Leslie H

Excellent for your basic needs

2015 Kia Optima LX

This was my first purchase of a Kia, it performs great and is easy to handle. It is really good on gas too. It tells you things like how much gas you are using, average speed,etc. I Love the hands free features in it. The cruise control definitely has kept me from getting tickets because it easy to speed even though it is only a 4 cylinder car. I love the alarm system and the fact that you can open the trunk with a push of a button. It came with Sirius radio which was nice for a change. The sound system left something to be desired., as if it was missing speakers in some areas. The trunk has plenty of room as well. I do not like that it did not come with a 'spare tire' and when you are driving down the highway you can hear the air through the door window seems. The passenger side seat is lower than the drivers side, a feature I did not realize until I bought it and became a passenger myself, it was almost embarrassing. There is no technology for the seats. And when you drive slow down a rough road you can hear some squeaking. The ac and heater work very well however, there seems to be residual air that comes through the vents of the car even when the heater and ac are off during the summer and winter months. Overall, it's been a great little car and has been very reliable, no problems with the actual engine and at this point I have put over 150,000 miles on it. I'm pleased with the vehicle as a whole, just wish there had been more involvement with the cosmetic features inside it.

- Joan G

I love that Kia Optima's get up to speed. It's not a race car but it's really nice.

2015 Kia Optima LX

My car is really nice. I enjoy the features of being able to speak through my phone in the car, instead of holding my phone in my hand. I can play music off of my phone through my car as well; pretty much anything really from listening to Netflix to youtube or Hulu. I just pull it up and listen while I am driving down the road. Definitely love the interior; the light colored cloth seats and black on the sides and the carpet is black as well. There is a lot of space in the trunk. It drive really well and gets up to speed quickly. Good on gas in the city and on the highway. Some things that I am not too thrilled about are as follows: the passenger seat is really low and you cannot raise the seat up. I can only raise the driver seat up. I mean you would think that both seats could do the same thing but apparently. There are no vents in the back of the car. I tend to scrape my black interior as I get in the car, not intentionally. My seats are manually moved forward and backwards. But that is okay. I'm use to it. The back of my seats are a hard plastic type which I guess is good if I put something in there like a bottle of water. If it spills, it won't be too bad. But overall the car is really nice. I have always been a fan of Kia Optima. I think it is such a smooth car even though I only had a 2015 model. I still love that car a lot.

- Jasmine P

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