Built on the same platform as the Hyundai Sonata, the 2004 Kia Optima competes against the Accord and Camry at a lower price and with a longer warranty. The differences between the Optima and Sonata are mostly in styling details, though the Kia is priced at $500 less. Two engines are offered in the newly refined Optima. Base equipment level is outstanding, the lengthy warranty reassuring.
Price for a 2004 Kia Optima in the US ranges from $15,500 for the base model to $19,495.
The Inside Story:
Comfortable and nicely thought-out inside, the Optima comes with air, cruise, side airbags, power door lock and windows. The EX gets an 8-way power driver's seat and an upgraded sound package. The ride is well balanced between smoothness and sporty handling.
Under the Hood:
The base engine in the front-wheel-drive 2004 Kia Optima is a competent twin-cam 2.4 liter four, providing 138 hp and 147 lb-ft. of torque. The optional 4-cam V-6 delivers its 170 hp smoothly. Both powerplants guarantee a decent level of performance, with the V-6 having an obvious edge.
You can choose between a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic with the four; the V-6 gets an automatic.
5 years/60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper. 10 years/100,000 miles powertrain.
Should You Buy a 2004 Kia Optima?:
In this highly competitive segment the 2004 Kia Optima appeals because of its lower price and generous warranty. Add to that the equipment level, attractive styling, and nicely-balanced handling from a sophisticated all-independent suspension system, and clearly the 2004 Kia Optima represents great value. ABS brakes are optional on the V-6 models but we think they should be standard across the range.