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Josh Rosenberg
Josh Rosenberg

We don't just talk cars ... we teach how to buy them.

Older Pre-2016 Kia Optima Overview And
How To Buy At The Lowest Price

At first, the Kia Optima could "get no respect". It wasn't because it was an inferior car (just the opposite, actually). It was because car buyers just didn't trust the name "Kia". You know, the same way we didn't trust the name "Honda" and "Toyota" when they first appeared. My how things have changed.

Those first few Optima buyers who did take the plunge were well rewarded. They ended up with cars having solid build quality, a long list of standard features, an industry leading warranty and an affordable price.

We think that a lower mileage, older Optima can still make a compelling and economical case as a solid used car purchase. They were, and still are, a well built vehicle and in terms of bang for the buck, they're hard to beat. And good older versions can still be found out there.

Kia Optima EX (2008)

For those thinking about buying an older Optima, here's some model background information to help narrow the field followed by some money-saving buying advice.

The Optimas second-generation debuted for 2006 and was carried through the 2010 model year. Initially, there were two models, base LX and EX. In 2009, the more sport-oriented Optima SX was added to the lineup.

Both LX and EX models can be found with either a 175 horsepower 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine or a 2.7 liter V6 that's good for 194 horsepower. LX models come with a five-speed manual transmission which was standard, or the optional five-speed automatic. Both the EX and SX feature five-speed automatic transmissions only.

Though certainly not a performance vehicle, the front-wheel drive Optima possesses a responsive steering system and suspension, making it a somewhat surprisingly capable drive around town. The ride quality is also smooth overall, resulting in a very competent and budget-pleasing daily commuter.

In terms of features, even the base model LX comes well-equipped for the price, with 15 inch wheels, side airbags, a CD player, air conditioning, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, a 60/40-split folding rear seat and cruise control.

Go for an EX and you can add alloy wheels, foglights, heated side mirrors, a power antenna, a sunroof, keyless entry, upgraded cloth upholstery, a power driver seat, wood grain trim, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a 120-watt sound system with a CD player.

2006 Kia Optima LX

The Optima SX then adds a sport-tuned suspension, 17 inch alloy wheels, a blacked-out grille and headlight, leather and cloth trim seating, sport pedals and interior aluminum accents.

The first-generation Optima was introduced in the 2000 model year and produced throgh 2005. While not quite equipped with all the features or higher quality materials as the second-generation, this Optima still gets high grades for its comfortable ride, spacious cabin and economical pricing.

These Optimas do not have stability control or head curtain airbags, and four-cylinder models didn't offer antilock brakes (ABS) at the time. The four-cylinder engine produced 149 horsepower in these models and, while adequate, are a little short in power. The V6 models produced 170 horsepower and performance, while not awe-inspiring, is smooth and quiet.

In 2002, the power in the V6 was boosted a bit to 178 horsepower. And in 2003, Kia introduced its Sportmatic manual-shift capability on four-cylinder automatic models.

The Optima's third-generation was a major redesign for the 2011 model year and produced through 2015. Designed very much like its cousin, the Hyundai Sonata, Kia, however, added a memorable European influence to it. And it terms of pricing, whether inside or out, it has the look and feel of a much pricier car.

2011 Kia Optima

The bottom line on this newest Optima is its sleek design, abundant features, powerful engines and value price has elevated it to one of the top choices in its segment.

They are five trims: LX, EX, EX Turbo, SX and Hybrid. Standard feature highlights on the LX include full power accessories, air-conditioning, keyless entry, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and an audio system with a CD player, an iPod/USB audio interface, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The EX and Hybrid add features such as alloy wheels, automatic climate control and leather upholstery, while the EX Turbo is outfitted with a more powerful engine. The SX also comes withe the turbo engine and has a sport-tuned suspension as well. It should also be noted that used Optimas can also be found with options such as a premium sound system, navigation, heated and ventilated front seats, and a Uvo voice-activated electronics interface.

Under the hood of the LX and EX models is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 200 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 6-speed manual on the LX (a 6-speed automatic is optional), while all other models come standard with the 6-speed automatic. Powering the EX Turbo and SX is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that pumps out a lively 274 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque.

Powering the Optima Hybrid is a 166-horsepower four-cylinder gasoline engine coupled with the 6-speed automatic transmission and an electric motor that produces 40 horsepower. Its fuel economy for combined city and highway driving is an EPA-estimated 38 mpg.

Overall, with its smooth ride, interior roominess and comfort, decent handling (impressive post-2010) and affordable pricing, we believe the Kia Optima offers a solid value for older used car shoppers.

How To Get The Best Price

Kia Optima SE (2003)

There are actually several different ways to buy an older Optima at the lowest price, and even at wholesale. You can click on the links to each of the following methods to get the specific instructions.

First of all, here's a Lowest Price Used Car Buying Guide that details a super effective method, one that often beats down prices even to wholesale levels. And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent 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 Auto Auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them in your own area.

Also ... 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 Optima. This works just phenomenally well.

Other Pages Of Possible Interest:
  • 2013 Kia Optima
  • 2012 Kia Optima
  • 2011 Kia Optima
  • 2011 Kia Forte
  • Used Kia Spectra

  • Additional Models Of Possible Interest:
  • Used Kia Sorento
  • Used Kia Sedona
  • Other Used Kia Models
  • Used Hyundai Genesis

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