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Josh Rosenberg By Josh Rosenberg
Updated Nov. 10, 2023

2013 Kia Optima Pros, Cons, Reliability, And Possible Mechanical Problem Watchlist

Related: How To Get The Best Deal On A "Brand New" Kia Optima

Due to extremely high new and used car prices, as well as high interest rate loans, many carbuyers have turned to "older" models that have aged well as a way to save significant dollars. Does the 2013 Optima fall into this category? Or, should it be avoided?

2013 Kia Optima SX

Well, when it was originally released, the 2013 Kia Optima was considered among the leaders in the midsize sedan segment thanks to its head-turning design, capable engines and abundance of features for the dollar. But over time, some serious questions as to its reliability surfaced.

So here, we will look at its pros and cons followed by specific mechanical issues to be aware of before making a purchase.

But first, and very importantly ...

Things To Do When Considering An "Older" Vehicle

Locate Lower Mileage Vehicles: They are certainly out there to be found with careful and patient shopping. Be willing to drive a distance if you have to.

Vehicle History and Maintenance: Ask for the vehicle history report (CarFax or AutoCheck) as well as documented maintenance and repair records. If not provided by the Dealer or private seller, it's usually best to move on.

Pre-Purchase Inspection: Have the vehicle independently inspected before making a final decision. This usually will cost in the $150-$200 range but is well worth it given the potentially thousands in savings over the long term.

And My #1 Price Tip: Please, always get online price quotes at auto sites such as and (both, actually), whether looking for a new or used car. Competition among dealers for your business does amazing things to prices, and it's so easy. It really does make a difference.

And quickly, while we're at it, my #2 Tip is to always know the up-to-date trade-in value of your current car. You can get a quick and surprisingly accurate one at Edmund's Trade-In Quotes.

It's free and just takes a couple of minutes. I think what helps its accuracy is the inputs will include either your plate# or VIN# followed by many simple, but specific, yes/no questions. It really focuses in on the detail of the specific vehicle.

2013 Kia Optima Pros

Stunning Design: Both inside and out, the Optima's design is modern, sleek and refined, particularly for a family sedan ... and particularly for one in this price range. It simply gets stares as it drives by.

Powerful, Fuel-Efficent Engines: The 2.4-liter four-cylinder in the LX and EX models impressively delivers 200-horsepower and 186-pound-feet of torque, while getting an an EPA-estimated gas mileage rating of 24 mpg city and 35 mpg on the highway with either transmission.

Powering the SX is a feisty 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that pumps out 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet, while getting 22 mpg city and 34 highway. In performance tests, an SX was timed from a standstill to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds (8.9 for the other engine).

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Under the hood of the Kia Optima Hybrid is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine coupled with an electric motor that combined generates 206-horsepower and 195-lb-ft of torque, with a fuel economy rating of 35 city and 40 highway. And it's still able to do the 0 to 60 sprint in just 8.4 seconds, which is quite quick for a hybrid.

Attractive Cabin: The interiors of other top family sedans can usually be described with words such as "traditional", "average" and often even "bland". Quite to the contrary, the Optima's is sophisticated and lively with a distinctive European flavor.

And this makes total sense once you know that Kia's head designer came from Audi. Of course, it's still not an Audi, but there's loads of well-designed features and soft-touch materials. Even the hard plastics are higher grade.

2013 Kia Optima SX interior

Abundant Features: There's simply a lot of features for a vehicle in this price range. Even the base LX model comes already well-equipped with standard features such as full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone connectivity, keyless entry, traction control, stability control, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat and a 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, and an iPod/USB audio interface.

Opting for an upper model adds more goodies, while even upscale features most rivals don't offer, such as a panoramic sunroof or ventilated front seats, are available as options. And the Technology Package, for example, adds navigation, a touchscreen interface, a rearview camera, real-time traffic and HD radio.

Safety - Top Crash Test Scores: In government crash testing, the Optima was given a five-star rating (out of five stars) for overall safety performance, consisting of five-star ratings for both overall frontal-impact and side-impact occupant protection. In addition, standard safety features across all models include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, side airbags, side curtain airbags, and hill start assist.

More Car Buying Tips:

The Truth About Wholesale And Trade-in Values

The Best Used Cars For Gas Mileage

Use Auto Lease Residual Value To Your Advantage

Is Flipping Cars Possible?

Appealing Value: When compared to other class leaders such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat and Ford Fusion, the Optima simply offers more for less. That's not to say any of these rivals don't have their own individual advantages, but given the overall package of design, features, performance, build quality and warranty, the Optima offers an awful lot of car for the dollar.

2013 Kia Optima Cons

Tight Headroom: Potential buyers should bear in mind that headroom could be somewhat of a problem for taller passengers. And while interior space is adequate, cars like the Honda Accord and Volkswagen Passat are roomier. Rear headroom can be particularly tight due to the vehicle's attractive but sloping roof line. Opting for the optional panoramic sunroof reduces headroom further.

SX Ride Quality and Road Noise: While the LX and EX models provide a generally smooth and comfortable ride over the most typical road conditions, the SX's firmer suspension can cause it to ride on the harsh side over bumps and rough spots. In addition, its sport-tuned suspension along with its larger wheels and tires contribute to added road noise.

Hybrid Handling: The hybrid certainly looks good and in some situations offers impressive acceleration for a hybrid. But while driving at low speeds or quickly changing city traffic, it can lurch a bit while the transmission is settling on the proper gear. Its steering is also numbish and the regenerative braking system's engagement is unimpressive.

2013 Kia Optima Reliability And Mechanical Problem Watchlist

Unfortunately, the 2013 Optima has not proven to be as reliable as many of its competitors. For example, a small but still significant number of engine failures have been reported. Most were replaced by a recall but we recommend that carbuyers pass on 2011 - 2016 Optima models because they all have the same engines. They were totally replaced in 2017 and are much more reliable.

There also have been other issues to check for before purchase which are included below:

It should be noted that not all 2013 Optimas have had these problems. Many owners report a very satisfied overall experience with only typical maintenance requirements.

Engine Issues: Engine problems were reported by more than a small number of owners at around 80,000 miles. If it was caused by a seized bearing, there was an ongoing recall and replaced for free. There are a smaller number of cases where engine failures were caused by other broken components and cost approximately $5,000 to replace.

Transmission Issues: Some owners have reported issues with automatic transmissions. This may include problems like rough shifting, slipping, or failure. Regular maintenance and prompt addressing of any transmission issues can help mitigate these problems.

Electrical Problems: Like many modern vehicles, electrical components can occasionally malfunction. Common issues may include problems with the infotainment system, power windows, or other electronic features.

Steering Issues: Some owners have reported that steering pulling has occurred at around 50,000 miles. This usually was caused by a bad steering linkage, at a cost of approximately $1,200 to replace. In fewer cases, the entire steering box and column needed to be changed at a cost of approximately $3,500.

Lastly, Suggestions For Getting The Lowest Optima Price

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a very effective method.

Here's another method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.

In addition, you can also try the Public Car Auctions in your own geographic area. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them.

And for those of you who might be interested in a "brand new" Kia Optima if the price was crazy good, here's info on exactly How To Get The Best Price On A New Car. This works just phenomenally well.

And checkout our Facebook page for more tips, car news and fun.

Other Older Models Of Possible Interest:
Older Used Kia Optima
2012 Kia Optima
2011 Kia Optima
2013 Hyundai Sonata
2012 Hyundai Sonata
2012 Hyundai Elantra
2013 Hyundai Elantra
2013 Chevy Malibu
2013 Nissan Altima
2013 Honda Accord
Older Used Hyundai Elantra
2013 Volkswagen Passat
2013 Toyota Camry
2012 Ford Fusion