KIA OPTIMA 2011 – 2020

2011 Kia Optima

Kia Optima is a long-time player in Australia having been introduced here in 2001. In
this Used Car Checkout review we are looking at the third generation that was
launched Downunder in January 2011.

Kia Australia had been working on Australian suspension tuning for quite a few years
and Optima handle handles pretty well for what it is, a family sedan.

Kia’s Optima is a medium-large four-door sedan with room for four adults, usually with
little need to compromise on legroom. The fourth generation of November 2015 was
larger and had additional space in the back.

July 2018 saw Optima receive a minor facelift, but the biggest changes were inside,
with the Infotainment system being pretty quick in its reactions.

Safety systems with an emphasis on trying to keep inattentive drivers out of trouble
were added to the 2018 model.

A deep boot can swallow plenty of luggage the depth created by the use of front-wheel
drive, which comes as a pleasant surprise to those moving from one of the old-style
Aussie sixes that lose space to the rear-drive system.

2014 Kia Optima

A handy feature is that the 60:40 rear seat backs can be dropped. The 2015 model had
an even larger boot than the superseded car.

Large alloy wheels and lowish profile tyres can be harsh on some rough roads and
coarse-chip surfaces may create quite a bit of tyre noise.

The lower cost models often have more sensible tyres than so are likely to be more
comfortable. Try for yourself on roads you will be travelling on.

Power from most Kia Optimas comes from a 2.4-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder
engine. Performance is good without being exciting, fine for the average driver, but if
you’re someone who likes to drive check it meets your standards.

An Optima GT arrived here in November 2015. It uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-
petrol engine, putting out 180 kW of power and 350 Nm of torque.

Kia Optimas sold in Australia have a six-speed automatic transmission with manual
overrides and a Sport mode. There’s no full-manual gearbox as Australian drivers in
this class have pretty well given up on doing their own gearchanges.

Kia stopped importing the Optima in October 2020 as the model was no longer built
with the steering wheel on the right-hand side.

2018 Kia Optima GT

Most Kia dealers are in the major cities, but some country cities and big towns now
have Kias in their showrooms and service departments.

Servicing costs are about average this class and we have heard of no real complaints
about availability and pricing of spare parts.

If shopping around for insurance make sure the offerings are exactly the same from
company to company. Keep in mind that it’s smart to have a long history with one
company if you do have a crash as they may be kind and not increase your premiums
overmuch next time.

Quality control problems gave Kia some poor reports in the early days but Optimas
being reviewed here are much better. It still makes sense to have a professional look
over it before you decide to out one.

Gear changes should be all but impossible to feel unless the Optima is being driven
hard. Slurred changes may indicate a problem – which is another good reason for a
professional inspection.

Take it for a drive on a rough road and listen for squeaks and rattles.

Look at the condition of the interior for signs of sun fading on the exposed areas. Also,
for cracks and damage, particularly in the back seats, due to rough treatment by bored

Similarly, check out the condition of the boot in case things have been roughly shoved
in and / or the car has been thumped around bends.

Expect to pay from $7000 to $12,000 for a 2012 Kia Optima Si; $9000 to $14,000 for a
2013 Platinum; $11,000 to $17,000 for a 2015 SLi or a 2014 Platinum, $14,000 to
$20,000 for a 2018 Si; $18,000 to $26,000 for a 2019 Si; and $22,000 to $31,000 for a
2019 GT Nav.

Keep an eye on prices being asked for used cars, these can vary quite a lot as some
dealers may be overstocked and want to get rid of them quickly.

RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at:

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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