Car Review

2011 Kia Optima: Used Car Review

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author photo by Joe Tralongo July 2015

Have you been looking for a used Honda Accord or Toyota Camry but feel unsure about their styling and features? Consider the 2011 Kia Optima. Kia's midsize family sedan is far more attractive than anything in its price range, with styling and features that often have it mistaken for an expensive European luxury sedan. The Optima offers a range of engine choices, including a hybrid model and turbocharged 4-cylinder that delivers excellent performance with decent fuel economy.

Kia equips the Optima with numerous standard features, as well as a few high-end options that you won't find from any competitor. Another advantage the Optima holds over its rivals is its 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is rolled back to 5 years/60,000 miles when you buy used. However, if you purchase a certified pre-owned Optima, the original warranty is reinstated.

What We Like

Gorgeous styling; powerful engine options; good fuel economy; roomy interior; impressive features; great warranty

What We Don't

Front passenger seat sits too low; wheels on the SX trim scratch easily; limited rear-seat headroom; no blind spot monitoring system or parking assist

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The Optima's base engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that produces 200 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. In the LX trim, a 6-speed manual is standard, while all other trims employ a 6-speed automatic with manual shift control. Fuel economy with the manual is rated at 24 miles per gallon in the city, 35 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined. The automatic attains 24 mpg city/34 mpg hwy and 27 mpg combined.

EX Turbo and SX models have a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that's good for 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy figures are not far from the base 2.4, with an estimated 22 mpg city/34 mpg hwy and 26 mpg combined.

The Optima Hybrid uses a slightly less powerful version of the 2.4-liter engine teamed to a 40-hp electric motor, and the combined engine output is 206 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 34 mpg city/39 mpg hwy and 36 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The Kia Optima is offered in five trims: LX, EX, EX Turbo, SX and Hybrid.

The Optima LX features a 6-speed manual transmission, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, keyless entry, a manual driver's seat with power lumbar, 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, manual air conditioning, an AM/FM/CD stereo with satellite radio and a USB/iPod port, Bluetooth cellphone connectivity, an air-conditioned glove box and a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio controls. Cars equipped with the automatic transmission also gain cruise control. Standard safety equipment includes front side-impact airbags, front and rear side-curtain airbags, and electronic traction and stability control.

Optional equipment for the LX includes an 8-way power driver's seat and 16-in alloy wheels.

The EX adds a power driver's seat, the UVO infotainment system (this was a late offering for 2011, so it may not be on all EX models), a rearview camera, push-button ignition with smart key keyless entry and start, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear vents, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, auto headlights, 17-in alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, leather seating and fog lights.

The EX Turbo gets a more powerful engine, upgraded brakes, wood interior trim and more chrome exterior accents.

The SX trim brings 18-in alloy wheels, a unique leather interior, steering-wheel paddle shifters, a sport suspension, a rear spoiler, additional soft-touch interior parts and Kia's Supervision instrument cluster with LCD display.

The Optima Hybrid has much of the EX trim's features but includes a unique instrument cluster with a hybrid powertrain readout, cloth or leather seats, and aerodynamic wheels.

Optional on all but the LX with the manual transmission is the Technology package, which adds an 8-speaker Infiniti audio system, navigation radio, a rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control and, on the LX model, a power driver's seat.

The Premium package offered on the EX and SX adds a panoramic sunroof, a 4-way power passenger seat, driver's-seat memory, heated and cooling front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and wood trim.


The Kia Optima holds strong resale values that are almost on par with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. However, because the Optima usually costs less when new, you should be able to find a nicely equipped model with more features than most similarly priced competitors. To get a good idea of the Optima's price range, we suggest checking out the used-car values at You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recall for the 2011 Kia Optima:

A recall was issued for a possible defective stop-lamp switch that may fail, resulting in the brake lights failing to illuminate and the cruise control possibly not disengaging when the brakes are applied. Additionally, a malfunctioning stop-lamp switch may result in the intermittent operation of the push-button stop/start feature.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and will fix the car at no charge to you if not.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

As for safety, the Optima performs very well in NHTSA's crash tests, scoring five out of five stars in the front, side and rollover tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Optima its best rating of Good in all but the small-overlap front crash test, which earned it an Acceptable rating. IIHS also awarded the Optima a Top Safety Pick.

The Optima has a 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile transferable powertrain warranty. The 10-year/100,000-mile original powertrain warranty is not transferable and applies only to the original owner. However, Kia also offers certified pre-owned cars, which are sold through Kia dealers after undergoing a 150-point inspection. Certified cars are given a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from the original date the car was placed into service (basically giving you the original owner's warranty), plus the remainder of the original bumper-to-bumper warranty.

Other Cars to Consider

2011 Honda Accord -- The Accord isn't as stylish or feature-rich as the Optima, but it does hold slightly better resale values and reliability ratings. The Accord also offers the option of a V6 engine.

2011 Toyota Camry -- Like the Accord, the Camry is lacking in terms of personality, but it, too, holds better resale ratings than the Optima and has a larger rear seat and V6 engine option. However, the Camry can't match the Optima's warranty, hp or performance.

2011 Hyundai Sonata -- The Hyundai Sonata shares the same platform and engines as the Optima, offers equally attractive styling (but with a few less optional features) and costs a bit less.

Autotrader's Advice

The base 2.4-liter engine has all the power and fuel economy required, so we'd opt for a model with this engine over the more expensive turbo. An LX with the Technology package is a great find, but if you must have leather seats and a few more bells and whistles, the EX is the way to go.

Find a Kia Optima for sale

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2011 Kia Optima: Used Car Review - Autotrader