2020 Kia Optima Performance

Kia Optima Performance Rating

2020 Optima Performance

With three powertrain configurations across the lineup, including 1.6-liter, 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter motors, the Optima's best straight-line performance comes from the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot which is mated to the six-speed automatic gearbox in the top-spec SX trim. With this powertrain, the Optima is gifted with outputs of 245 hp and 260 lb-ft and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in a class-average 6.8 seconds, according to most test drives. While anything under seven seconds is respectable for the class, that's a lot slower than Honda Accord, which, with its detuned Civic Type R 2.0T engine and ten-speed automatic, accelerates from 0-60 mph in an impressive 5.7 seconds. With the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-pot mill and the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the Optima makes the 0-60 mph run in a slower 7.3 seconds, on par with the Hyundai Sonata. The 2.4-liter naturally aspirated mill is the slowest of the lot, getting the Optima up from 0-60 mph in an uninspiring 7.5 seconds.

While it's common that most, if not all, vehicles in this class are offered solely as front-wheel-drive vehicles, Toyota just came out with an all-new all-wheel-drive variant of the Camry, and Subaru offers only AWD in its Legacy.

2020 Optima Performance Photos

2020 Kia Optima Side View CarBuzz
2020 Kia Optima Rear Angle View CarBuzz
2020 Kia Optima Engine CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

The base powertrain is a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine that produces 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, directed to the FWD system via a six-speed automatic gearbox. While competent enough in getting the LX and S models on the go, the 2.4-liter doesn't feel as refined as the other engine options; its responses aren't as consistently smooth and with heavier throttle inputs it tends to get loud and feels less in-tune with the gearbox, occasionally stumbling and hesitating on a downshift.

The 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, standard in the EX and EX Premium, with its peak outputs of 178 hp and 195 lb-ft is much more pleasant. It's designed to be the most efficiency-minded mill of the three, while the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox it's mated to proves to be a favorable alternative to the typically used CVT. The engine is surprisingly peppy, despite its penchant for efficiency, and though with less hp, its 17 extra lb-ft has its acceleration responses feel far more robust throughout driving. Furthermore, the gearbox is smoother and slicker-shifting under acceleration, and if powerful acceleration is less a priority than refinement, this could well be the Optima's choice powertrain.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is solely equipped in the SX and is the most potent of the lot, delivering 245 hp and 260 lb-ft to the front wheels of the optima via the six-speed automatic gearbox. The engine packs plenty of punch for the Optima and delivers ample thrust in a linear and consistent manner, making it easier to reach top speed without a fuss. It's a great engine for the class, but it's beat by most comparable rival engines and is considerably less economical than the lineup's alternatives.

2020 Kia Optima Performance Specs:

Kia Optima TrimsKia Optima EnginesKia Optima HorsepowerKia Optima TransmissionsKia Optima DrivetrainsKia Optima MPG/MPGEKia Optima Range
LX2.4L Inline-4 Gas185 hp @ 6000 rpm6-Speed AutomaticFWD27 MPGN/A
S2.4L Inline-4 Gas185 hp @ 6000 rpm6-Speed AutomaticFWD27 MPGN/A
SE2.4L Inline-4 Gas185 hp @ 6000 rpm6-Speed AutomaticFWD27 MPGN/A
EX1.6L Turbo Inline-4 Gas178 hp @ 5500 rpm7-Speed AutomaticFWD31 MPGN/A
Hybrid EX2.0L Inline-4 Hybrid192 hp @ 6000 rpm6-Speed AutomaticN/A42 MPGN/A
EX Premium1.6L Turbo Inline-4 Gas178 hp @ 5500 rpm7-Speed AutomaticFWD31 MPGN/A
SX2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas245 hp @ 6000 rpm6-Speed AutomaticFWD24 MPGN/A
Plug-In Hybrid EX2.0L Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid202 hp @ 6000 rpm6-Speed AutomaticN/A41 MPG28 miles

2020 Optima Gas Mileage

The 1.6-liter turbo-four engine and seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox are the most efficiency-minded pairing; equipped in both the EX and EX Premium this powertrain returns impressive EPA mileage estimates of 27/37/31 mpg city/highway/combined. Still, the Honda Accord is slightly more fuel-efficient though, with its most economic trim returning EPA estimates of 30/38/33 mpg on those same cycles. The LX, which is equipped with the 2.4-liter four-pot and six-speed auto gearbox returns 25/35/29 mpg. The S, which carries the same powertrain proves a little less efficient, returning 24/32/27 mpg, while the SX, with its 2.0-liter turbo-four and six-speed auto, is the least fuel-efficient trim, returning EPA estimates of 21/30/24 mpg. All models are equipped with an 18.5-gallon gas tank, which allows the 1.6-liter turbo-four to travel up to 573 miles before requiring a refuel.

2020 Kia Optima Fuel Capacity

Kia Optima TrimsLXSSEEXHybrid EXEX PremiumSXPlug-In Hybrid EX
Kia Optima Tank size15.9 gal.15.9 gal.15.9 gal.15.9 gal.13.4 gal.15.9 gal.15.9 gal.9.9 gal.
Kia Optima Fuel Economy (Cty/Hwy)24/3224/3224/3227/3740/4527/3721/3038/43
Kia Optima Hybrid Battery CapacityN/AN/AN/AN/A1.76 kWhN/AN/A9.8 kWh
Kia Optima Charge TimeN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A2.7 Hrs Charge Time @ 220/240V
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