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Josh Rosenberg By Josh Rosenberg
Updated Feb. 21, 2024

Older Second And Third Generation Kia Optima Overview (2006 - 2015), Reliability, And Possible Maintenance Problems

Related: How To Get The Lowest Price On A "Brand New" Kia

In today's very high-priced used car market, many shoppers are now looking for "older" models that have aged well as a way to save significant dollars. This makes a vehicle's history of reliability all the more crucial.

2013 Kia Optima SX

And many consumers are looking at an older (generally 10 or more years old) Kia Optima due to its good looks, comfortable drive, and more affordable price. The big question is, "is it one of those models that has aged well?"

Well, for the most part, the general answer is, yes. But a lot of it will come down to whether or not it has been well-maintained. That's really the key for longevity.

In fact, history has proven that a properly cared for Optima can last in the 200,000 mile range, and some further. But again, previous "proper care" and being "well-maintained" are the essential ingredients.

So here, ...

- We'll do an overview of some earlier Optima generations, specifically the second and third, covering the 2006 - 2015 model years.

- Then we'll list possible mechanical issues that have been reported by some owners for these models so they can be checked before buying one today.

But first, and very importantly ...

Things To Do When Considering An "Older" Optima

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.

Second Generation Kia Optima (2006 - 2010)

Kia Optima EX (2008)

Initially, there were two models in this Optima generation, 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.

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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.

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.

2006 - 2010 Kia Optima Possible Mechanical Problems

2006 Kia Optima LX

While generally having a reputation as a fairly reliable vehicle, some owners have reported repair issues which should therefore be included in a pre-purchase inspection.

Again, bear in mind that individual vehicle maintenance and driving conditions can have a significant impact on a particular vehicle's mechanical history and the following issues are not universal:

Engine Reliability: Some owners reported issues with the engine, including instances of engine stalling, rough idling, or poor acceleration. These issues could be attributed to various factors such as fuel system problems, ignition coil failures, or sensor malfunctions.

Transmission Concerns: There were occasional complaints about transmission problems, such as rough shifting, transmission slipping, or complete transmission failure.

Electrical System Problems: Owners reported occasional electrical issues, such as malfunctioning dashboard lights, power window failures, or problems with the audio system.

Suspension and Steering: Some owners experienced problems with the suspension system, including issues with shocks or struts, which could lead to a rough ride or handling problems. Additionally, a few owners reported problems with the power steering system, such as fluid leaks or steering wheel vibration.

Brake Concerns: There were occasional complaints about brake-related issues, such as premature wear of brake pads or rotors, or problems with brake pedal feel.

Third Generation Kia Optima (2011 - 2015)

2011 Kia Optima

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 had the look and feel of a much pricier car.

The bottom line on this generation was 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 some of these 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.

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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.

2011 - 2015 Kia Optima Possible Mechanical Problems

The third generation Optima generally had a respectable reliability record, but there were some mechanical issues reported by owners which should be included in an inspection before buying one today:

Engine Problems: Some owners reported issues with the engine, such as engine knocking or stalling. These issues could be related to fuel system components or engine sensors.

Transmission Issues: There were occasional complaints about transmission problems, such as rough shifting or transmission failure.

Electrical Problems: Some owners experienced electrical issues, including problems with the infotainment system, power windows, or other electronic components.

Suspension and Steering: A few owners reported issues with the suspension system or steering components, such as premature wear or noises while driving.

Brake Problems: Some owners mentioned brake-related issues, such as premature wear of brake pads or rotors, or problems with the brake system's performance.

It's important to note that not all vehicles experienced these problems, and most owners were satisfied with their vehicles' reliability.

Also, Always Know The Value Of Your Trade-In!

Whether you are trading or selling on your own, it's just a good idea ... even whether you are in the market or not at the moment. You can then use this important information for a number of purposes ... to negotiate with a dealer, or to know how to price your car in the retail market, or simply to know the value of one of your assets, which is always a good idea.

Getting trade-in values online tend to vary a lot from site to site. But I've found the one at Edmunds Trade-In Quotes is particularly comprehensive and accurate. It's free, it's quick and there's no contact by any third parties. I think what helps its accuracy is the inputs will include either your plate# or VIN#. They really focus in on the specific vehicle.

Lastly, Suggestions For Getting A Low 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 if the price was really good, here's info on The Best Way To Buy A New Car. This works just phenomenally well.

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

Related Older Model Articles:
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2012 Kia Optima
2011 Kia Optima
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Older Kia Spectra
Older Kia Sorento
Older Kia Sedona
Other Older Kia Models
Older Hyundai Genesis