- What’s New – Kia updates but doesn’t drastically change the Optima sedan for 2009. Among the tweaks are revised front and rear exterior styling that adds a couple inches to the overall length, a more powerful four-cylinder engine, variable-valve technology on all powerplants, an available navigation system, a USB port, and a new SX trim with sport-tuned suspension.
- Why It Matters – Shoppers were attracted to Kias for years because of the excellent warranty, but with a number of competing brands increasing their powertrain coverage Kia needs to give shoppers more reasons to consider its cars. To that end, prospective buyers will be enticed with more engaging styling, more power, and a number of desirable convenience features.
2009 Kia Optima – 2008 New York Auto Show: Beware of being pigeonholed. Just ask single guys with female friends. They’ll tell you all about being there for the ladies in times of need or whenever a buddy’s required, but isn’t even on the radar when she’s looking for some fun on Saturday night. He wants her to know he’s more than a shoulder to lean on, just like Kia wants you to know it’s about more than plain vehicles with long warranties.
Such is the mentality that lead to a duo of debuts at the 2008 New York Auto Show, one of which was the 2009 Optima sedan due for dealers’ lots later this year. Offering sleeker styling, more power and features that buyers across all demographics have come to expect, the freshened front-drive sedan represents Kia’s attempt at incorporating style into its value equation.
2009 Kia Optima - Notable Features
Among the more notable features available on the 2009 Kia Optima are a navigation system, a USB port for easy connection of your personal electronics, Sirius satellite radio, and a handful of sport-oriented goodies on the all-new SX, such as 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, and aluminum interior trim. All models, from the base LX to the mid-level EX and sporty SX, come with standard air conditioning and basic power features, while upper trims and options reveal goodies like Infinity audio and leather upholstery.
Of course, the 100,000-mile warranty soldiers on and a number of safety items are available in addition to standard side-curtain airbags and a tire-pressure monitor.
2009 Kia Optima - Under the Hood
Like the model it replaces, the 2009 Kia Optima will be available with four- and six-cylinder engines featuring continuously-variable valve timing; the smaller powerplant is mated to a five-speed manual or a Sportmatic five-speed automatic transmission, whereas the V-6 works only with the automatic. Output for the 2.4-liter four-banger is rated at 175 horsepower and 169 lb.-ft. of torque; the V-6 is carried over with 185 horses and 182 lb.-ft. of torque.
With such a slight difference in power, offering these particular engines on the same car seems almost redundant to us, but perhaps shoppers will disagree. Other nuts and bolts-related bits include front MacPherson struts, a multi-link rear suspension, and optional antilock brakes.
2009 Kia Optima - Design
Visually, Kia designers have swapped out the current Optima’s ho-hum styling with sharper lines for a more memorable look. The front and rear fascias are all-new and give this Korean a rather Japanese character reminiscent of that presented on recent Honda models.
The narrow, swept-back headlights and egg crate grille will inject a sense of sport, while the tailored LED taillights provide the rear with a clean, refined appearance. These changes have added a few inches to the Optima’s overall length, though the wheelbase remains unchanged.
2009 Kia Optima - Competitors
As a midsize sedan, the 2009 Kia Optima does battle in one of the toughest segments of the automotive market. If you’re considering the Optima, chances are you’re also thinking about the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, and Chevrolet Malibu, all of which have strong followings and in most cases clearly outmatch the Optima in terms of power, features, and arguably, styling.
By Thom Blackett
Photo credit: Oliver Bentley and Kia