Stylish inside and out and powered by a powerful four-cylinder engine, the 2015 Kia Optima shows that a midsize car doesn’t have to boring.
In its last year before a full redesign, the 2015 Kia Optima remains a sleek and athletic choice within the midsize segment. The Optima is offered in four trim levels and with two engine choices. Optima LX, EX and SX models are powered by a peppy 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. A more powerful, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is available on the Optima SX and standard on the Optima SXL. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models.
Only minor updates distinguish the 2015 Optima from the 2014 model. For the most part, trim level determines your choice of available options. We test drove the Optima SX with the base engine, which provided plenty of power.
Despite its size, the 2015 Optima manages to look sleek and sporty. Its black grille, projector headlights, distinctive fog lights and daytime running lights would not be out of place on the front end of a luxury car. At the rear, the Optima’s bold wrap-around taillights and dual tailpipes are also sporty touches. Decorative vents on the front panels are meant to add an athletic touch, but are obviously cosmetic rather than functional.
Heated sideview mirrors capped with LED turn signal indicators are standard, while power-folding mirrors are available.
The SX adds LED running lights and taillights, and opting for the turbocharged engine adds a gorgeous block of LED fog lights.
The Optima comes standard with 16-inch wheels, while EX and SX models get 17- and 18-inch wheels, respectively. The SX models with the turbocharged engine have18-inch chrome wheels with red brake calipers, and also gain a rear spoiler and chrome accents on the side sills and front and rear bumpers.
The 2015 Kia Optima seats five comfortably. The center stack is slightly canted toward the driver, and you’ll find soft-touch surfaces and nicely padded elbow rests. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter are standard except on the base Optima LX. Plastic is used sparingly and is textured to match the Optima’s more premium materials.
A 10-way, power-adjustable driver’s seat is optional on the LX and standard on all other models. Cloth seats are standard on the Optima LX, while higher trims come with leather-trimmed seats.
The SXL trim has a power-adjustable passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. Many of these features are also available as options on the EX and SX trims.
Plenty of legroom and comfortable seats make the 2015 Optima a family friendly vehicle, while the 60/40 split-folding rear seats allow flexibility for hauling larger cargo. The Optima has 15.4 cubic feet of trunk space, which falls in line with what other midsize cars offer.
The 2015 Kia Optima comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 192 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that provides 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque is available on the Optima SX and standard on the SXL. All Optima models come with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.
The EPA reports that the 2015 Optima gets 23/34 mpg city/highway with the base engine. Choosing the more powerful turbocharged engine results in slightly lower fuel economy estimates of 20/31 mpg.
While the turbocharged engine provides significantly more power, the Optima’s base engine feels peppy and responsive in most driving situations. The six-speed automatic shifts quickly and smoothly, and we appreciated the composed handling that was provided by our Optima SX’s sport-tuned suspension.
The 2015 Kia Optima comes standard with a USB port, Bluetooth and satellite radio. Available features include a rearview camera, Kia’s Uvo telematics system, proximity key with push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, an Infinity audio system, HD Radio and navigation.
Kia’s UVO system is subscription-free for the first 10 years or 100,000 miles of ownership. This information and telematics system includes voice recognition to make calls and select music, as well as features that parents will love, such as speed alerts, geo fencing and curfew reminders.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2015 Kia Optima its highest five-star rating for its overall performance in crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the Kia Optima a Top Safety Pick.
Standard safety equipment includes a suite of air bags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera are available. Driver assistance features such as lane departure warning, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control are not available on the 2015 Optima.
Starting at $21,840, the 2015 Kia Optima costs less than competitors like the base 2015 Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Its 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is also a major selling point.
Our test car priced out at $30,485 before destination charges, and included the Premium Technology package ($4,600), which adds a number of comfort and tech features, including a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.
The 2015 Kia Optima holds its own against competing midsize cars by offering attractive styling, a great driving experience and the roominess you’d expect from a four-door family sedan. It’s missing a few driver assistance features that are becoming common in the class, but higher trims can be outfitted with premium features that were previously reserved for luxury cars. The midsize segment offers a number of great vehicles though, so we’d encourage you to cross-shop the Optima with models like the 2015 Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Volkswagen Passat before making your final buying decision.