2002 Kia Optima

  • 2002 Kia Optima LX Sedan

    LX Sedan

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      2.7L I4
    • MSRP
  • 2002 Kia Optima SE Sedan

    SE Sedan

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      2.4L I4
    • MSRP
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2002 Kia Optima Review

Trails off a bit but is nonetheless appealing.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The Kia Optima is a midsize sedan that came along late in 2000. The market was dominated by Chrysler, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, and Ford, and Kia has to find buyers willing to drive well-equipped cars rather than ones that are stripped down. So it's no wonder that the Optima makes a fine choice for families on a budget with its exceptional finish, solid build quality, excellent suspension, loaded with features, and priced reasonably.

The Range

Body Styles: sedan
Engines: 2.4-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Kia Optima LX, Kia Optima SE

What's New

The 2002 Kia Optima receives a V-6 upgraded engine for its second year. LX four-cylinder models get 15-inch wheels in place of the previous 14-inch ones. Meanwhile, SE trim levels receive automatic headlights and two remotes for keyless entry. An addition for the optional SE Power Package is a power four-way passenger seat.


The 2002 Kia Optima and the Sonata share a couple of major components, including the exterior styling. It shares the same crosshatch grille and unique nose, and both vehicles ride the same 106.3-inch wheelbase, while the overall length is a little shorter at 186 inches long. The LX model exterior features include a rear defogger, intermittent wipers, a temporary spare tire, all-season tires, and 15-inch alloy wheels. The SE adds a power glass sunroof.


The 2002 Kia Optima holds five passengers comfortably in front buckets and a rear bench seat, which has a three-passenger placement and folds to permit more cargo space. The trunk has 13.6 cubic feet of cargo space. A storage two-bin console sits inside the cabin for additional items.

The 2002 Kia Optima that's equipped with a four-cylinder engine includes air-conditioning, side and front airbags, intermittent wipers, 15-inch wheels, remote trunk release, power steering, first aid kit, a six-speaker AM/FM radio and power doors, locks, and mirrors. The features in this price range are very impressive. The SE, on the other hand, also adds luxurious interior touches of wood trim on doors and center console with leather trim on steering wheel and gearshift knob. It also has heated mirrors, alloy wheels, automatic headlights, power antenna, moonroof, fog lamps, cruise control, keyless entry, audio system with CD, and power seats.

Performance & Handling

The 2002 Kia Optima's only engine choices are between a 2.4-liter four-cylinder producing 149 horsepower and a 2.7-liter V-6 that generates 170 hp. Models with the four-cylinder chose between a manual five-speed and an automatic four-speed transmission. The V-6 models are only equipped with the automatic transmission that has a provision for shifting manually and adaptive logic.

The 2002 Kia Optima has a smooth ride, which tops the list of high merits in the upper-level model. It glides over moderate bumps without much transfer to passengers inside, but rougher roads may hinder the composure. The acceleration is excellent with the V-6, which is well above adequate for the class. The transmission responds well and has only occasional downshift abruptness. Limited anti-lock brakes availability is an annoyance for buyers. The only way to get ABS is purchasing a V-6 model and buying it as an optional feature. Disc brakes also are exclusive to V-6s but are a standard feature.

The 2002 Kia Optima’s manual four-cylinder five-speed transmission standard engine puts out 149 horsepower. The upgraded 2.7-liter engine now pumps out 178 hp with 181 lb-ft of torque, which isn't the best but is usually adequate for most drivers. The V-6 model only has automatic transmission but comes with an automanual shifter allowing shifts with no clutch. All models have four-wheel suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, and rear and front anti-roll bars. This combination provides a comfortable, supple ride, particularly on highways and expressways.


The 2002 Kia Optima receives standard side airbags with optional anti-lock brakes for models with the V-6 engines only.

EPA Fuel Economy

Kia Optima: 19/26 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Excellent warranty
  • Reasonable price
  • Build quality is solid
  • Abundant standard features
  • Pleasant riding on highway

You Won't Like

  • Unavailable ABS on four-cylinders
  • Unproven in the market
  • Low-grade materials in interior

Sum Up

Trails off a bit but is nonetheless appealing.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Toyota Camry
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Acura TSX
  • Honda Civic
  • Hyundai Accent

See the New 2016 Optima.

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