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Kia debuted the K5 after killing the Optima nameplate in 2020. However, this midsize sedan remains popular in the pre-owned market. Shoppers searching for a reliable used Kia Optima under $10,000 should consider a 2014 or 2015 model. Learn more about both below.

(Note: Regardless of a used car’s reliability score, always obtain a vehicle history report and have a trusted mechanic perform an inspection to uncover potential problems before purchasing. Also, prices may vary depending on trim level, mileage, overall condition, and location.)

The 2015 Kia Optima has a great reliability score

A red 2015 Kia Optima, a reliable used Kia Optima model year
2015 Kia Optima | Kia

J.D. Power gave the 2015 Kia Optima an overall “great” score of 81 out of 100. It earned an 83 in quality and reliability and 83 in driving experience, but it received an “average” 76 for resale value.

According to the market research firm, people pay about $8,700 to $13,400 for a used model. Kia sold the 2015 Optima in five trims, but only the LX and EX will keep you under $10,000. 

This car’s low points are its rear visibility, stability in poor driving conditions, and engine smoothness. However, owners say they like the climate control system, storage space, and Bluetooth capability. This model is much better than 2013, the most complained-about Optima year

The biggest complaints involve the engine and steering. That includes total engine failure and the steering wheel sticking. Owners have reported over 450 complaints about engine problems and over 50 about steering issues to the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But those numbers are minuscule compared to the nearly 160,000 Optima sedans Kia sold in 2015.

This fuel-friendly but zippy car packs a standard 192-hp four-cylinder engine and six-speed Sportmatic transmission. It also provides hands-free control of your phone and music. With roomy seating for five and plenty of storage space in the 15.4-cubic-foot trunk, the 2015 Optima has a bit of everything. It’s economical and fun to drive. 

The 2014 Kia Optima also rates well in reliability

2014-2015 Kia Optima reliable used Kia Optima
2014 Kia Optima | Kia

Although it’s older by one year, the 2014 Kia Optima boasts a better overall J.D. Power score of 83 out of 100. It has the same 83 in quality and reliability as the 2015 model. But it has a slightly higher 78 in resale value. In addition, it earned an 88 in driving experience — five points higher than the 2015 model.

The data analytics firm says buyers pay an average of $8,100 to $12,800 for a used model — about $600 less than the 2015 Optima. You should be able to find three trim levels under $10,000: the LX, EX, and SX. But you likely won’t find a reliable 2014 Optima with the upgraded 274-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine in that price range.

Interior of a 2014 Kia Optima, a reliable used Kia Optima model year
2014 Kia Optima | Kia

Likes and dislikes for this model year are about the same as those for the 2015 Optima. It’s roomy and has good climate control, but the rear visibility isn’t impressive. Also, it doesn’t handle superbly in poor conditions, and the engine isn’t as smooth as owners would like. Additionally, lists engine and steering problems as the most common owner complaints. 

Like the 2015 model, the 2014 version has a standard 192-hp inline-four engine and the more potent 274-hp turbo-four. It also includes Bluetooth hands-free phone and music controls. The 2015 Optima was a carryover model and is mostly the same as the 2014 version. 

These used midsize sedans offer fun driving and practicality on a budget

Of all the used Optima models on the market, the 2014 and 2015 are the newest and most reliable on a $10,000 budget. They have decent ratings and enough technology to make you feel like you’re driving a modern car. 

If you can’t find a 2014 or 2015 model in that price range, you could search for older versions. However, it might be wise to skip the 2011 Optima.