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2013 Kia Optima

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The 2013 Kia Optima is a teenager in the automotive world, only in its third generation of production. As far as midsize sedans, this one walks the middle of the road for some and hits the mark for others. It is a model of safety and reliability while mixing in a good deal of economy. For the 2013 Optima, Kia has discontinued the EX Turbo trim but has instead gone a bit classier and added a top-level Limited trim.

A hybrid model is once again offered for this year, and there is a choice of two available four-cylinder engines. Some of the less-than-desirable features are a lack of headroom and a somewhat cramped cabin, but the 2013 Kia Optima remains a stylish economical option in the midsize sedan category. It remains a gold standard in the safety category, which makes it nice choice for first-time drivers.

Expert Reviews

"If you're looking for a fuel-efficient family sedan that isn't easily lost in a crowded parking lot, the 2013 Kia Optima is it. Combining stunning styling with an affordable price and an unbeatable warranty, the 2013 Kia Optima goes beyond the basic family sedan in features, performance and resale value." (Kelley Blue Book) The resale value point will be particularly valuable to families, especially since the Optima is a top choice for a family sedan.

"The 2013 Kia Optima is one of our top picks for a midsize sedan. With evocative styling, strong engine choices and a long list of features, it's easy to see why." (Edmunds) Then again, Edmunds didn't find the hybrid version of the Optima quite as pleasant. "Less impressive is the Optima Hybrid. Its electric motor makes accelerating from a dead stop a smooth affair, and at highway cruising speeds the electric motor can aid with quick bursts of acceleration that make the engine almost feel turbocharged. However, in low-speed driving or quickly changing traffic conditions, the hybrid shudders and lurches while deciding which gear it wants. Meanwhile, the engagement of the regenerative braking system is noticeably unrefined." (Edmunds)

"The Optima is Kia's version of the Hyundai Sonata, and falls short of its corporate cousin in ride comfort, braking, and fuel economy. It has responsive and very secure handling, but the ride is borderline stiff and road noise is noticeable. The standard 200-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine performs well. Top-level trims get a turbocharged four-cylinder that's economical and powerful but not as refined as competitors' V6 engines." (Consumer Reports)

Owner Reviews

"I test drove many midsize sedans and this was the best car overall for the price. I purchased the 2013 base model and it is very well equipped! It looks like a luxury vehicle but the price with Kia incentives was very inexpensive. I have been getting better highway mpg than the vehicle rating." (Owner review from Josh is Maryland, KBB)

"I love it, power in the mountain roads (like the ones they use on commercials) and fuel efficient in the city. What more can you want with all the options in the loaded package. So far it is living up to the mpg as listed on the sticker and is fun to drive!" (Owner review from North Carolina owner, KBB)

"I traded a 2004 Optima which had 179,000 miles on it and still ran great. [I] couldn't wait to purchase this car when it came out. Only regret was I bought mine a month before the limited came out and I would have bought that one." (Owner review from Robert, Yahoo! Autos) Among the many positives listed by current owners, the power, fuel efficiency, and technological features top the list. Some of the negatives listed were the low ceiling in the rear, stiff seats, and a low-sitting passenger seat.


The 2013 Kia Optima comes in three different trim levels. As we covered previously, the EX Turbo trim is no longer available. The Limited line has replaced it, but we'll get to that one in a moment. Let's start with the base model, the Optima LX. Many may see this one as the low-end but you'd never know it by the list of available options. The LX offers standard features like full power accessories, keyless entry, Bluetooth phone connectivity, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, and a six-speaker sound system with CD player.

Move up one level and you're at the 2013 Kia Optima EX. Here you'll get 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, rear air vents, and an upgraded dashboard trim with matching floor mats. It also includes the Convenience package of an eight-way adjustable lumbar driver's seat and auto-dimming rearview mirror. This package is an upgrade option on the base-model LX.

The SX line is the high-end of the Optima scale and features the all new SX Limited model. The standard SX receives 18-inch wheels, auto-leveling xenon headlights, upgraded gauges, cloth/leather combo upholstery, paddle shifters, a sport-tuned suspension and a uniquely styled exterior. The Limited version adds the Technology package which goes absolutely crazy with technological additions. A touchscreen navigation system, power-folding mirrors, a rearview camera, and the Uvo voice-activated phone and media player interface are just a few that are included.


Like most Kias, the Optima's interior is more luxurious than the price would suggest. The dashboard features a triple-eye display with the center eye housing the speedo. All gauges are well lit and readable. The push-button steering wheel controls can be a bit excessive, and very easy to bump when turning the wheel, but they do come in handy.

The cockpit continues by wrapping slightly toward the driver where the touchscreen and radio interface reside. Controls for both are well-sized and easy to use. Kia's Uvo system, which is Microsoft-based, is easy to use and surprisingly functional. The seats are comfortable but don't provide a great amount of support in key areas. There is a large amount of soft materials, and hard plastics are kept to a minimum.

The Optima's trunk space is 15.4 cubic feet. That makes it right on par with others in this class and better than most. If there is one drawback it is with headroom. Taller passengers may take offense to the sleek, sloping roof of the 2013 Optima because it severely decreases upper spaciousness, especially in the rear seat. Adding the sunroof as an option may seem like an easy way out but this only decreases headroom further.


The 2013 Kia Optima comes standard with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine that manages 200 horsepower and 186 ft.-lbs. of torque. The California-emissions cars are slightly less powerful but run a lot cleaner. The Optima managed to hit 60 mph from a dead stop in 8.9 seconds, an average time for this class. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard on the LX trim but the six-speed automatic is optional. The automatic tranny comes standard on the EX and SX lines.

The SX trims get an upgrade at engine to the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder that pushes 274 ponies and 269 ft.-lbs. of torque. This engine brings the time getting up to 60 mph down to 6.5 seconds. The EPA estimates fuel economy to be 24/35 mpg (city/highway) from the 2.4L and 22/34 mpg from the turbo 2.0L. There is also a hybrid Optima option which brandishes a hybrid-electric version of the 2.4L.

If the interior isn't enough to get you excited about the Optima the driving experience should put you over the top. Either one of the four-cylinder engines produce ample power and handling is comfortable yet responsive. The sporty SX trim provides a more refined steering feel but suspension is stiffer. If you don't want a stiff ride, stick with a lower trim.

Safety & Reliability

The 2013 Kia Optima is a Top Safety pick and passed just about every crash test thrown its way. It earned a perfect five stars in all front- and side-impact crash tests as well as a top score of Good from the IIHS in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. There are currently no major recalls. The Optima comes with one of the best manufacturer's warranties in the industry at 5-years/60,000 bumper-to-bumper and 10-years/100,000-miles of powertrain coverage.

With that type of warranty, reliability is near the top of the scale. Even if you do have a problem, you'll get an extra 2 years or 24,000 more coverage than most competitors. That type of warranty is offered because the Kia Optima is truly one of the safest, most reliable midsize sedans on the market today. MSRP on the 2013 Kia Optima ranges from $21,200 for base-model LX to $26,800 for the SX.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Sedan - FWD
LX 4dr Sedan LX 4 Cylinder FWD 21350
EX 4dr Sedan EX 4 Cylinder FWD 23650
SX 4dr Sedan SX 4 Cylinder FWD 26800
SX w/Limited Pkg 4dr Sedan SX w/Limited Pkg 4 Cylinder FWD 26800
SX w/Chrome Limited Pkg 4dr Sedan SX w/Chrome Limited Pkg 4 Cylinder FWD 26800

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