2008 New York Auto Show: 2009 Kia Optima


  • Competes with: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry
  • Looks like: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry
  • Drivetrain: 175-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder with five-speed manual or five-speed automatic, or 190-hp, 2.7-liter V-6 with five-speed automatic; front-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Late 2008

Not two months after sister company Hyundai debuted a freshened Sonata, Kia followed suit with the midsize Optima. Though the cars shared architecture in previous years, they’ve been on divergent paths for some time now, Kia says. Where the upgraded Sonata’s new face found general acceptance, our reaction to the Optima is lukewarm. The car’s sheet metal went from Plane Jane to Frank Caliendo, meaning you can find a good impression of a lot of cars here: the grille and taillights look like those on the new and two-generations-old Accord, respectively; the headlights are all Camry; and the trunk and rear bumper remind us of the Malibu.

Both engines have been upgraded, but the cabin remains mostly the same, save for some cooler electroluminescent gauges in the sporty SX trim level. (“Sporty” is a relative term here, as in, whoa, check out that sporty Camry SE!) Other SX features include 17-inch rims, a sport-tuned suspension and mirrors with integrated turn signals. The LX and EX trims remain, and new standard features include a USB port, which takes iPod compatibility beyond what simpler auxiliary jacks allow. Six airbags and active head restraints are also standard, but we wish ABS and stability control were, too. They’re optional, but product strategy manager Ralph Tjoa said that may change before the car arrives at dealerships.

Click below for more pictures.

By Kelsey Mays | March 20, 2008 | Comments (11)



Current model is much better looking, IMHO. This model is 2 plain jane. The gauges on current model r much nicer 2 with their bluish hue & digital gas & water, these look dated!!


i agree. the current model is quite bland, but this refresh makes the current model much more appealing.


Personally, I don't know how the author can claim Kia and Hyundai are different. I think the problem with Kia is that an also run compared to Hyundai. There is not much price different between the two brand and models are basically the same with some different in execution. I look at Kia = Dodge and Hyundai = Chysler but with lot more platform sharing and not as full of lineup yet. If Kia makes a truck it make Kia have slightly different lineup but the truck won't sale. The reason why is they won't advertise enough and why buy over the domestic and other import trucks.


Plus the current model has only been around for 2 years, so y the need 2 update so fast? 2 make it at cheaper cost? Seems like it, reminds me of the old Saturn LS or new Subarus!


red turn signals, ewww!


Looks fine to me, conservative perhaps, but then look at it's market.


Personally I see alot of Ford 500 DNA in grill and side. I see Honda Accord in headlights and rear end, asian cars copying asian cars.


SO GLAD I bought the current model -

1) Can someone say Mazda-esque Cluster?
2) TSX Looking Headlights
3) Grill = YAWN... and wtf's up with the plastic fog light surroundings

However, I definitely wouldn't mind having the upgraded stereo system, turn light mirrors, and dual exhaust


I finally saw a few of these on the road here in Korea. They look a lot better in person, but they could have done more with the front end.


I'm glad they spared the beautiful symmetrical interior design. I honestly think this is one of the nicest designed interiors on the market. It's so pleasing to the eye. As for the new exterior design? It looks more like a Ford to me than anything else.

thank u for these beautiful pics for the car but how can i get pics for the inside of the car if u can..........

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