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2004 Kia Optima Sedan

4dr Sdn LX Auto V6

Starting at | Starting at 20 MPG City - 27 MPG Highway

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  • $18,395 original MSRP
Printable Version

2004 Kia Optima Sedan

Printable Version

2004 Kia Optima Sedan

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2004 Kia Optima

Source: New Car Test Drive

Base Price (MSRP) - $15,500
As Tested (MSRP) - $22,010

Introduction

The Kia Optima is a remarkably good car for the price. Kia offers a strong value when compared against the big Japanese brands. You get a lot for your money, and unlike earlier Korean attempts at building a mid-size sedan, the Optima achieves a level of sophistication in its engine and chassis that is competitive for its size, and not just its price. For 2004, the Optima's styling is more sophisticated as well, with a new front end that gives the whole car a more subtle appearance.

The available V6 engine is exceptionally smooth, and works well with the four-speed automatic transmission that comes with it. The Optima's refined and unruffled road manners will please most of the people who are in the market for mid-size family transportation.

Kia Optima is based on the platform of the current Hyundai Sonata and shares the Sonata's engine and suspension layout; if you like one, you'll no doubt like the other. But the Optima offers unique styling, sharing no body panels with the Sonata and offers different features.

 

Model Lineup

The 2004 Kia Optima comes in two trim levels, LX and EX, with a choice of four-cylinder engine or V6 in either.

Optima LX ($15,500) is powered by a 138-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and comes complete with air conditioning; cruise control; rear defroster: six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo; eight-way manually adjustable driver's seat; power windows, mirrors and locks; front-seat side-impact airbags; four-wheel-disc brakes; and P205/60 all-season tires on 15-inch steel wheels. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, a four-speed automatic ($920) optional.

The LX V6 ($17,895) gets a 2.7-liter V6 rated at 170 horsepower. The automatic transmission is standard, along with woodgrain interior trim and P205/55 Michelin tires on 16-inch aluminum wheels.

The four-cylinder Optima EX ($18,095) adds a tilt-and-slide glass sunroof, electronic climate control, Infinity AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo, fog lights, HomeLink universal transmitter, heated outside mirrors, self-dimming inside mirror, remote keyless entry with alarm, eight-way power driver's seat, leather wrappers for the steering wheel and shift knob, and other appointments. It also comes with aluminum wheels, but they are 15-inch units wearing the base-level P205/60 tires. The four-speed automatic is the only transmission available.

The EX V6 ($19,495) comes with all the above: the 170-horsepower V6, 16-inch wheels and tires, and all the EX-level luxury goodies.

The list of factory options is short. Anti-lock brakes ($795) are available only with the V6. Leather seating ($1095) is offered only on the EX. Port-installed accessories include a CD changer ($375), carpeted floor mats ($85), and a rear spoiler ($220).

All Optimas come with Kia's 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and 5-year/60,000 mile basic warranty, plus a 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance plan.

 

Walkaround

The 2004 Kia Optima breaks no new styling ground. It's a basic three-box, four-door sedan with conventional proportions. Not a head turner by any means, it is handsomely done and presents itself well, with distinctively sculpted panels and balanced forms.

Last year's bright gridwork grille has been replaced for 2004 by a simple, trapezoidal opening split by a single horizontal bar. Now flanking the grille are dual headlamps, round inboard and rectangular outboard. The description sounds busy, but the actual look is satisfying, sophisticated and vaguely European.

The alloy wheels that come on the V6 models are redesigned for 2004, and EX models are accented by chrome door handles and bodyside moldings. The brightwork is well done and makes the car look richer. In fact, the Optima looks better the longer you look at it, with both an overall shape and details that are appealing.

 

2004 Kia Optima

Interior Features

The Optima's interior is as conventional as its exterior, and there's little here that will either surprise or confound the new driver. The overall quality of materials is okay. The color matches are good and the layout is appropriate, but the fit and finish is not up to the standards of Honda and Toyota. Some of the panels don't fit flush and the rear ashtray in one car squeaked. The available leather interior complements the rest of the interior nicely. It comes with genuine wood trim, though it was so over finished that it was difficult to differentiate it from the imitation wood trim that is also used.

The front bucket seats are firm, supportive and fairly flat, comfortable and well suited for hours of commuting, with enough fore-and-aft travel to accommodate the longest of legs.

The back seat is good, though putting three adults in back is requesting a bit more intimacy than most are accustomed to. The 60/40 folding rear seatback increases the versatility of the Optima.

Trunk size is adequate, with 13.6 cubic feet of cargo space, compared with 14.0 for the new Honda Accord. Optima's trunk lid has articulated hinges that don't impinge on luggage space or crush grocery bags, a nice feature.

 

2004 Kia Optima

Driving Impressions

The Optima is most enjoyable with the V6 and automatic, though the four-cylinder and manual shifter make a fine combination.

The four-cylinder engine works well around town and cruising at high speeds, but it doesn't have a lot of power at altitude on winding roads. The manual gearbox works well. The clutch pedal is easy to operate and it's easy to shift smoothly and.

The V6 engine in the Kia Optima is so smooth and quiet that one of our colleagues got into one with the engine idling and promptly tried to start it. It's that polished, and the impression doesn't fade once the Optima is underway. The engine quietly goes about its business, at least until given full throttle. Then it's still smooth but it can be heard sonorously churning out power. The V6 and automatic are a responsive team. The V6 surrenders 2-3 miles per gallon, but seems worth it for the smoothness and improved response.

The Optima's automatic transmission is a good match for the V6 engine. It shifts imperceptibly in normal driving. Slam the gas pedal down and it quickly downshifts. The transmission also has a manual-shift feature: Sliding the console-mounted shift lever over to the right allows the driver to shift up and down with a flick of the lever. It's sometimes helpful or enjoyable to slap the lever over and downshift manually to pass, but it's not necessary. This system is built by Kia, but was designed by Porsche and is similar to the Tiptronic.

Kia tuned the Optima's suspension for comfort, not handling. That doesn't mean a floaty, imprecise ride. It's smooth and stable at high speeds. It doesn't feel as connected to wet roads as a Honda Accord or Mazda6, though. While hustling down some back roads, the Optima displayed remarkable poise over bumps and lumps in mid-corner, its line not diverted by bumps in the road. The Optima operates best in its comfort zone. Push it really hard and you begin to see more chassis flex than that of the leading brands. The nose dives under hard braking and the rear squats under hard acceleration. There's considerable understeer (the tendency of the front tires to lose grip before the rear tires, causing the car to describe a wider arc in a corner). Also, the steering is relatively slow, so you have to turn the wheel more than you do in an Accord.

Kia engineers have managed to filter out most road and tire noise, but there's a ruffle of wind noise from the top of the windshield. Overall, it isn't quite as quiet as the Hyundai Sonata. At highway speeds, conversations between front and back seat were easy at normal speaking volume.

 

Summary

The Kia Optima excels at providing good transportation at a reasonable cost. It's smooth, reasonably refined and comfortable. Its price makes it attractive, especially considering the long warranty, the roadside assistance plan, and all the standard features.


Model Line Overview

Base Price (MSRP) $15,500
As Tested (MSRP) $22,010

Model lineup: Kia Optima LX ($15,500); LX V6 ($17,895); EX ($18,095); EX V6 ($19,495)
Engines: 2.7-liter dohc 24-valve V6
Transmissions: 4-speed automatic
Safety equipment (Standard): front airbags w/passenger detection, front side-impact airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners w/force limiters, rear childseat anchors, first aid kit
Safety equipment (Optional): ABS
Basic warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles
Assembled in: Hwasung, South Korea

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Kia Optima EX V6 ($19,495)
Standard equipment: air conditioning, in-glass antenna, variable intermittent wipers, heated power mirrors, fog lights, aluminum wheels, Infinity AM/FM/CD/cassette stereo, power locks w/keyless remote and alarm, 8-way power driver's seat, 60/40-split folding rear seats, map lights, cruise control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power tilt-and-slide glass sunroof
Options as tested: antilock brakes ($795); leather seats ($1095); carpeted floormats ($85)
Destination charge: 540
Gas Guzzler Tax: N/A
Layout: front-wheel drive
Engine (Optional): 138-hp 2.4-liter inline-4; 170-hp 2.7-liter V6
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 170 @ 6000
Torque(lb.-ft. @ rpm): 181 @ 4000
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 20/27 mpg
Transmission (Optional): 5-speed manual; 4-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Length/width/height: 185.8/71.5/55.5 in.
Track, f/r: 60.6/59.8 in.
Turning circle: 34.1 ft.
Seating capacity: 5
Head/hip/leg room, f: 39.0/55.8/43.3 in.
Head/hip/leg room, r: 37.6/54.4/36.2 in.
Cargo volume: 13.6 cu. ft.
Payload N/A
Suspension F: independent, double wishbone with coil springs and anti-roll bar
Suspension R: independent, multi-link with coil springs and anti-roll bar
Ground Clearance: 6.1 in.
Curb weight: 3279 Lbs.
Towing capacity: N/A
Tires: P205/55R16
Brakes, f/r: disc/disc with ABS
Fuel capacity: 17.2 gal.

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of 11/Aug/2003.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-333-4542 - www.kia.com


Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive

Printable Version

2004 Kia Optima Sedan

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Rollover Resistance
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std
Printable Version

2004 Kia Optima Sedan

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 5 Years/60,000 MilesDrivetrain: 10 Years/100,000 MilesCorrosion: 5 Years/100,000 MilesRoadside Assistance: 5 Years/Unlimited Miles

Kia Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

120-months/100,000-mile Powertrain warranty from original in-service date
Age/Mileage Eligibility up to 5 model years old w/ less than 60,000 miles
Lease Term Certified No
Point Inspection 150
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance 10-Year/Unlimited Mileage from In-Service Date
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $50

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2004 Kia Optima Sedan

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