2009 Kia Optima Sedan Preview

  • On sale early fall 2008

  • Exterior changes to lights, grille, and some body panels

  • Three inches longer, but wheelbase doesn't grow

  • New base 4-cylinder engine with 13 more hp

  • Sportier SX trim added


The midsize Kia Optima got a redesign in 2006 that made it a wider car with a longer wheelbase. The 2009 model, on sale in the fall of 2008 and shown at the 2008 New York International Auto Show, gets a modest makeover with new body panels, a new 4-cylinder engine and a new trim level (SX). Exterior changes include a larger front grille and fog lamps; sharper body creases; and crisper tail lights. Interior styling upgrades and added stereo features complete the makeover.


The optional 2.7-liter V-6 engine on the 2009 Kia Optima carries over from the 2008 model, but power gets a slight boost to 190 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. The base engine, a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, is new. It makes 175 hp, up 13 from the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that it replaces. Each engine features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) and a Variable Intake System (VIS), which helps improve fuel economy. The LX 4-cylinder Optima gets a 5-speed manual transmission, while other models come equipped with a 5-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic.


Joining the base 2009 Kia Optima LX and upscale EX trim levels, the new SX model features sport-tuned suspension; front grille and head lamps with black bezels; turn signals on the exterior mirrors; fog lights; and 17-inch tires with alloy wheels. In the cabin, the new instrument cluster gets red illumination. A 4-door, 5-seat car, the Optima LX comes with gray or beige cloth upholstery. The EX gets the same color choices in leather trim. And the SX gets black leather, metal pedals and aluminum trim.


Standard safety features on the 2009 front-wheel-drive Kia Optima include six air bags (dual front, side and curtain); front active headrests; and a tire-pressure-monitoring system. The optional electronic stability control package includes that safety technology that reduces fatalities in single-vehicle accidents (according to the IIHS); traction control; and 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist.


A new audio system in the 2009 Kia Optima is MP3 compatible and Sirius satellite radio capable, and features a USB port and an auxiliary jack. An optional navigation system is a first for the Optima model.