Comfort and Performance in a 2019 Kia Optima SX Turbo? You’re Sitting in It

The front passenger seat in the 2019 Kia Optima SX Turbo. All photos by Matt Coker

For a representation of the 2019 Kia Optima SX Turbo’s balance of comfort and performance, you need to look at your seat. No, silly, not your seat as in your buttocks but your seat as in the mid-size sedan’s sitting surfaces, or more specifically the front bucket version your humble reporter’s bum filled recently.

The two-tone black and red, soft leather seats with white stitching and perforations–which actually make up the SX Red Color Package that is included at no extra cost–maintain a look of speed and maneuverability inherent in the four-door.

But the seats are as comfortable to sit in as grandpa’s recliner, with a shape that conforms to your frame and gives a sense of security, even before you lock in the safety belt.

Ready to rumble

You’ll want that security because, without having first looked at the materials about the  2019 Kia Optima SX Turbo, I was convinced my test vehicle had a six-cylinder engine as it peeled off the line from the first stop sign (and I hadn’t even engaged Sport mode … yet).

Actually, it’s a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo with Gas Direct Injection (GDI). You’ve got to give it to the South Korean automaker’s shop wizards: They have been cranking out some swift and sporty rides in recent years, each with their own distinct personalities, yet you want to keep driving them all. You should see the tug-of-war with the smart keys as I try to keep the delivery driver from taking back my Kia testers.

Why? Here’s a for instance: Leaving Silverado Canyon in pitch-black darkness, the SX handled the windy roads intuitively, delivering me to the 55 freeway onramp off Chapman Avenue so quickly that the ride down is a blur. What I do remember is mostly keeping just one finger on the D-shaped steering wheel.  

The gauges, steering wheel and shifter draped in soft leather maintain the “sporty” edge.

It has a six-speed automatic transmission, but you’ll find yourself coming up with excuses to play with the paddle shifters behind that heated steering wheel.

The 18-inch alloy wheels give the SX a racy look, as do the chrome “Turbo” logos on the body, which was painted Snow White Pearl–a $495 extra–on my tester.

So you don’t go to crazy, Parnelli, the SX includes a host of included safety features, from airbags all over the interior to traction, stability and hill-assist controls to warning systems for blind spots, lane departure, reverse parking, forward collision, pedestrian avoidance and rear-cross traffic.

Chrome “Turbo” logo is embedded in the Snow White Pearl body.

Keeping you entertained along the way Harman Kardon premium audio system with Clari-Fi–which is described as technology that “restores the rich, original sound of music that gets lost during the digital audio compression process.” A three-month SiriusXM satellite radio subscription is included. Kia’s UVO infotainment system features navigation on an eight-inch touchscreen with a rear camera, and the SX can be linked through Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Audio.

Oh yes, about those seats mentioned up top: for both front riders, they are heated, ventilated and power adjustable, with memory for the driver side (and outside mirrors). The back has Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH). 

By the way, all of this is included in the $31,900 base manufacturer’s suggested retail price, as are: the push-button start, smart key, smart trunk, smart cruise control with Stop & Go, panoramic sunroof with power sunshade and an array of LED lights (headlights, high beams, low beams, fog and taillights).

Another open road for the 2019 Kia Optima SX Turbo to conquer.

In fact, the only thing I have mentioned that is NOT included in the base price is that Snow White Pearl paint job which, along with a $920 inland freight and handling fee, pushed the total of my test SX up to $33,315.

By the way, the Optima is Kia’s answer to the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The 24 miles to the gallon combined–21 in the city, 30 on the highway–has you spending an estimated $1,600 in annual fuel costs and $1,000 more for gas over five years than you would for the average new vehicle. The EPA gives it five ratings on 1-10 scales (10 being best) for smog, fuel economy and greenhouse gas.

Kia backs it up with a 10-year or 100,000-mile (whichever comes first) limited warranty on the powertrain and five years or 60,000 miles for the limited basic warranty as well as roadside assistance.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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