Kia Optima

The Essentials

  • Price from £19,595
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 57.6mpg
  • What is it? A smart family saloon car that offers good value but a disappointing drive.


  • Smart outside, spacious inside
  • Seven-year, transferable warranty
  • Generous standard equipment


  • Too noisy and unsettled for a family car
  • No fun to drive
  • Cheap feeling interior
  • Drive

    Altogether disappointing - neither fun nor comfortable

  • Inside

    Controls are easy to reach but not all are clearly marked

  • Safety

    Six airbags, active headrests and stability control are standard

  • Reliability

    Kia is an average performer but we like the seven-year warranty

  • Space

    Reasonable space inside for the family but boot isn't the easiest to use

  • Standard and extras

    Entry-level cars are well equipped with air-con, electric windows, cruise control and Bluetooth

  • What's it like to drive?

    The Optima's diesel engine is sluggish to get going but perky enough once you've got the revs up. It's noisy though, and far too much road noise is also transmitted into the car, so it's not a peaceful place to pass your daily commute. Nor is it particularly comfortable  a must in a family saloon. It's not as though there's a sporty drive to compensate; the ride is choppy, and both the steering and throttle responses feel like they need a kick up the rear.

  • What's it like inside?

    For a car competing with the likes of the VW Passat, the interior simply doesn't feel classy enough. The dash is angled towards the driver, but there are too many poorly labelled buttons and too much cheap feeling plastic. There's lots of adjustment for the seat and wheel, but the seat base is set quite high.
    Things get better in the back where passengers can enjoy acres of rear legroom and whoever's sitting in the middle has plenty of foot space thanks to the nearly flat floor.

  • How reliable is it?

    The Optima doesn't have the quality feel inside of a VW Passat, for example, and its reliability record is no better than average. However the seven-year/100,000-mile warranty is reassuring, and can be transferred to the next owner.
    Six airbags, stability control and active headrests to prevent whiplash in a crash come as standard with the Optima, but it hasn't yet been crash tested.

  • Should I buy one?

    The range starts cheaply and basic models come with lots of kit but as you move up to a more powerful or better specced model prices don't look such good value. Don't expect much in the way of discounts or impressive resale values. Running costs are fair but not a bargain. As family saloons go, there are better to be found.