2013 Kia Optima Preview

Jeff Youngs | Mar 13, 2013
  • Midsize sedan
  • Adds SX Limited trim level with more equipment
  • EX Turbo trim level discontinued
  • LX trim level no longer available with manual transmission
  • Sliding front headrests on LX, EX and SX trim levels
  • Revised Kia badges on hood, trunk and steering wheel
  • Hybrid horsepower down, torque and fuel economy up
  • Hybrid model adds EX trim availability
  • Hybrid model gets more trunk space


The Optima is a midsize sedan and Kia's best-selling model. It shares its platform and engines, but not interior or exterior styling, with the Hyundai Sonata. It is offered with 4-cylinder power and an available hybrid powertrain.

The Kia Optima competes in the midsize car segment, the best-selling class in the United States. Competitors include the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, and Volkswagen Passat.

Exterior Features

The Kia Optima shares the Hyundai Sonata's 110-inch wheelbase and basic platform but it features unique styling. Standard exterior equipment includes automatic headlights, fog lights, and 16-inch alloy wheels. The EX trim level adds polished 17-inch alloy wheels, while the SX gets a rear spoiler, xenon headlights, and 18-inch wheels. The base Hybrid model also gets the rear spoiler but has 16-inch wheels for less rolling resistance. The Hybrid EX has 17-inch wheels.

Interior Features

The 5-seat Kia Optima comes standard with cloth upholstery, driver's seat height and lumbar adjustment, air conditioning, interior air filter, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, heated power mirrors with turn signals, power windows, power door locks, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD stereo, auxiliary input jack, USB port, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, trip computer, and a cooled glove box. A split-folding rear seat is standard to increase the cargo capacity of the 15.4-cubic-foot trunk. The Hybrid, which places its lithium-polymer battery in the trunk, has a rear pass through and a smaller trunk. Hybrid model trunk space increases from 9.9 cubic feet to 10.8 cubic feet this year, as the battery has been repackaged.

Optional Features

The Optima EX model adds leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8-way power driver's seat, keyless access and starting, auto-dimming rearview mirror, compass, and a universal garage door opener. The SX model comes with cloth/leather upholstery, xenon headlights, and a sport-tuned suspension. The Hybrid has active front head restraints, dual-zone automatic climate control, and keyless access and starting. The EX Hybrid also gets a navigation system with real-time traffic information, rear backup camera, 8-speaker Infinity audio system, panoramic sunroof, and heated and ventilated front seats. Several packages are offered for the various models, but the most notable optional equipment includes the navigation system, rearview camera, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, sunroof, the Infinity sound system, HD Radio, and Kia's UVO infotainment system.

Under the Hood

The 2013 Kia Optima is offered with one of three engines. The base engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that produces 200 horsepower and 186 lb.-ft. of torque. The SX model has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that delivers 274 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2.4 is offered with a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic with manual shift capability, while the 2.0 comes only with the automatic.

The Optima Hybrid combines a 159-horsepower 2.4-liter engine with a 47-horsepower electric motor. Kia says the engine delivers 154 lb.-ft. of torque at 4500 rpm and the electric motor produces 151 lb.-ft. of torque from 0 to 1630 rpm. Total output is down seven horsepower to 199 for 2013, but total torque increases from 195 to 235 lb.-ft. The Hybrid's transmission is a 6-speed automatic.

All 2013 Kia Optima models come only with front-wheel drive.

Fuel Economy

EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2013 Kia Optima are:

  • Optima with 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission: 24/35/28 mpg (city/highway/combined)
  • Optima SX with 6-speed automatic transmission: 22/34/26
  • Optima Hybrid base: 36/40/38 mpg
  • Optima Hybrid EX: 35/39/37 mpg


The 2013 Kia Optima comes standard with all of the safety features required by the government, plus front side air bags, curtain side air bags, active front head restraints, electronic brake-force distribution, and brake assist.

In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) crash tests, the Kia Optima received 5 stars (out of 5 stars) in the frontal crash, side crash, and rollover tests, giving it a 5-star overall rating. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, it received a "Good" rating, the Institute's highest, for moderate front overlap, side impact, roof strength, and rear crash protection. These scores qualify the vehicle as a "Top Safety Pick," and an "Acceptable" rating in the new small overlap frontal-impact test makes it a "Top Safety Pick Plus."


The Optima's hybrid system pairs an electric motor with a version of the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that runs on the more fuel-efficient Atkinson cycle. Electric power is stored in the 47-kW lithium-polymer battery. As a parallel hybrid, this system can power the vehicle on electricity alone up to 62 mph or aid the engine during acceleration. Regenerative braking recharges the battery, and the engine shuts off at stops.
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