By on November 15, 2010

The Korean word for ‘five’ sounds like “oh,” as in, “Oh, Snap!” or “OMG.” So in Korea, that makes Kia’s new K5 a “K.O.,” at least in name. But does Kia’s new Camccord fighter actually land a knockout on the all-important D-Segment, or is it a mere win by decision?

One thing is certain: this doesn’t look like any Optima we’ve seen before. From a distance, the K5 cuts a distinctively aggressive and appealing profile. On closer inspection however, the exterior design begins to display a certain amount of visual discord. Consider the K5 an automotive Monet: gorgeous from a distance, but more than a little muddled at close quarters.

One of the biggest visual distractions is the chrome accent that runs along the top of the side windows. When that strip passes through the rear door and trunk lid openings, it creates a cacophony of cut lines that make it look a little like Chucky from the Child’s Play movies.

A little further rearward, the design disarray continues. The Audi-inspired tail lights conspire with the trunk opening and rear bumper to create an overhang that gives the K5 an unpleasant bucktooth appearance.

The front of the car displays more design non sequitur elements. The in-vogue-for-the-moment LED positioning lights look jarring against the incandescent fog lights. The bright white light of the LEDs overpowers the yellowish light of the incandescent bulbs. Also, the positioning lights do not follow the contour of the fog lights and therefore look like an afterthought. What’s worse, lower trim level models without the positioning lights are left with a vast expanse of black plastic in their place that wouldn’t look inappropriate in a Tic Tac factory.

Speaking of lights, another element that misses its mark is the “eyebrow” light near the back of the headlamp assembly. Perhaps this piece is meant to mimic the gorgeous light treatment on the K7 (Cadenza), but on the K5 it looks disjointed and incomplete.The final piece of the K5’s exterior design puzzle is the faux air intake on the fender. On some models it illuminates, which does help to give it some visual appeal, but on most models it’s as superfluous as Krusty the Clown’s third nipple.

The K5’s interior recalls an apartment I recently considered buying. Promotional literature for this apartment made much of the fact that the kitchen, living room, bathrooms and bedrooms had each been designed and decorated by a different world-class architect or designer. On paper, the idea of having a dream team of top architects and designers working on one project sounded like a good one; in reality, it failed miserably. The result was a hodgepodge of rooms with different shapes, colors, textures, and designs that looked as though each had been crafted without any consideration of the other. The finished product was completely incongruous and lacked both cohesion and coherence. The interior of the K5 seems to have suffered a similar fate. One good example is the way the dashboard meets the door panels.

It seems as though nobody considered that these two areas might someday appear together in the same space. There is a complete lack of unity or flow between the two elements, as if the doors had been designed by one person and the dashboard by another and neither person knew what the other was doing. The door panels themselves are another example of the interior’s lack of design rhythm. The speakers appear to have been added as an afterthought as they protrude tumor-like from the door, giving the whole affair a lopsided, front-heavy look . Finally, the gear selector, with its leather boot, faux-wood trim, high-gloss center point, and chrome release button, also exhibits the K5’s Frankenstein approach to interior design.

If this sounds overly-harsh, consider the K5’s own in-house competition. By comparison, the K5’s kissing cousin, the Hyundai Sonata, has an overall interior design concept that is much more cohesive; lines flow together in unbroken harmony with a sense of balance and unity. It’s a night-and-day difference from the design-by-committee look of the K5’s interior.

Sitting behind the wheel of the K5, the first thing you notice is that the steering wheel is smaller than you might expect. On the road, the wheel feels even smaller as its four spokes are crowded by no less than a dozen buttons. On the plus side, three of those buttons belong to the K5’s cruise control, a feature not commonly found on midsize cars in Korea. Across the street at the Hyundai dealership, both the Sonata and Grandeur (Azera) are green with envy as cruise control is unavailable on either.

Another nice trick hiding up the K5’s sleeve is its heated steering wheel. Hiding is the appropriate word here however, as the switch is completely obscured by the steering wheel and is nearly impossible to locate and just as hard to activate. It’s worth noting however, that this feature is unavailable on other cars in this class (at least in Korea), so kudos to the K5 for having it.

Speaking of heat, both the front and rear seats are heated with special antibacterial polymer heating elements called Heatex. Kia claims that Heatex provides more uniform heating and uses infrared waves to stimulate drivers’ and passengers’ internal organs. The car I drove included cooled front seats which delete the Heatex option in favor of conventional heating elements. This, plus the 95-degree heat the day I drove the car, meant that my internal organs didn’t have a chance to experience Heatex in action. I can report, however, that the cooled seats work quickly and effectively, despite being a little too loud for my liking. At stop lights, the constant drone of the cooling units had me wishing that they had an automatic start-stop system. In fact, I often turned them off manually while idling at red lights. However, the vertical layout of the switches seemed counterintuitive and I often ended up activating the passenger’s heated seat. I’d prefer a side-by-side switch layout.

Several first-drive reports from the Korean media have suggested that the K5’s seats are hard and uncomfortable. In the 90 minutes I spent with a KDM version, I found the seats to be comfortable but a little too flat for my liking, especially the bottom cushion. In addition, the driving position was noticeably low (lower than the Sonata) and the center console was noticeably high (higher than the Sonata) which combined to give the cockpit a cocoon-like feel. Interestingly, and somewhat uncommonly these days, Kia spent the extra nickel to include pictograms on the power seat control buttons. It’s a nice touch, but seemingly unnecessary as the only time anyone will see them is when the door is open. Front-seat legroom in the K5 is excellent as the seats offer extensive fore and aft adjustment. With the front seats in their furthest rearward position (a position they are likely never to be in, but that’s the way Kia measures legroom), the K5 has nearly three-quarters-of-an-inch more legroom than the Camry and a staggering 3.2 inches more than the Accord.

Front-seat headroom is a slightly different story, at least numerically. Interior headroom in the front is only three-quarters-of-an-inch more than in a Camry and is almost 1.5 inches less than an in an Accord. In the real world however, the interior at the front of the K5 feels roomy, perhaps due in part to the noticeably low seating position.

In the back seat, headroom is both numerically and realistically tight. At 57.3 inches, the K5’s roofline is lower than that of the Sonata (57.9), Camry (57.9), and Accord (58.1), and it feels that way! The K5 has the least rear-seat headroom of any of its three competitors; nearly a full inch less than the Accord, slightly more than half-an-inch less than the Sonata, and nearly a quarter inch less than the Camry. In addition, outward visibility while sitting in the back of the K5 is somewhat restricted because the side windows sweep upward. This upward sweep gives the exterior a fastback-esque appearance but combined with the low sloping roofline, makes the backseat feel somewhat claustrophobic. On the plus side, rear legroom is good. The K5 has nearly an inch more legroom than the Camry and about a quarter inch more than the Accord (again measured in the Kia way with the front seats positioned all the way rearward). Rear seat passengers can also enjoy their own air vents, but (strangely) only on vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. The vents are a nice touch, but they cannot be opened and closed independently of each other as on the Sonata.

Overall, the K5’s interior is comfortable, roomy, well-equipped, and quiet. Kia engineers went to great lengths to make the K5 quiet. In fact, it has more sound insulation than both the Sonata and the larger more upscale K7 (Cadenza). That being said, its interior looks and feels somewhat bargain basement, especially in the lower trim levels and lacks design coherence and continuity across all levels.

Under the hood, the K5 uses the same 2.4-liter GDI engine as the Sonata. However, a keen eye will notice a few subtle differences in the engine bay. First, the K5 uses just a single gas strut fixed to the inside of the front wheel arch, whereas the Sonata uses two struts mounted to the outside. Cost savings for Kia and weight savings for the K5, perhaps?Also, the K5’s air intake is wider, lower, and better integrated than that of the Sonata’s.

Finally, the area near the firewall also differs between the K5 and the Sonata. The Kia has more insulation and a larger differently-shaped cowling near the windshield wipers, both of which are designed to reduce noise in the cabin.

Undoubtedly the K5 will be a hit for Kia, and it should be. It’s a quiet, well-equipped, affordable, and generally speaking, an attractive automobile. Unfortunately, it lacks the refinement necessary to compete against the likes of the Accord, Camry, and even its stablemate the Sonata. Had the K5 been given more of a sporting mission to match its extroverted exterior, it would make a stronger case for itself. Instead, the driving impression is extremely close to the Sonata only with less refinement. It throws a lot of punches, some of which hit and others of which miss, but at the end of the fight, the K5 falls short of being a K.O.

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37 Comments on “Review: 2011 Kia K5 (Optima) Korean-Spec...”


  • avatar
    gslippy

    That is one of the strangest-looking quarter panels I’ve ever seen.
     
    I hope the US-spec version cleans up some of these details, or the Optima may be a drag on an otherwise great vehicle lineup.  That would be too bad, because the current Optima is already odd man out in Kia’s product line.

    • 0 avatar

      The US car looks exactly the same.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      This isn’t a bad-looking sedan, but I agree that it’s got a lot of elements that don’t work well:
      – (KIA) logo should be in the front grille, not over it
      – blackout roof really should be body color.
      – the wheels on the grey car look like bad hubcaps
      – front bumper and undergrille are a total mess, need to be cleaned up

      Still, it’ll sell, and that’s what matters.

      Maybe the look will grow on us.

  • avatar

    Where’s the driving evaluation?

    I agree with the design critique, yet when this car was actually in my driveway last week (STI drove it to retrieve an Avalon) I was impressed. The exterior is malproportioned and busy, but also distinctive and striking.

    The interior seemed like that of a much more expensive car, with an upholstered border around the IP. It reminds me of the interior in the last 929, which placed style above functionality.

    I think this car could put Kia on the map, and hope to have reliability stats ASAP.

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

    • 0 avatar

      Hi Michael,

      Apart from offering a quiet ride (which I mention in the article) and feeling claustrophobic in the back seat (which I mention in the article), the car’s driving characteristics just didn’t make any sort of impression on me. Nothing is glaringly bad; likewise, nothing is conspicuously good. It starts when you turn the key (or press the button in this case), goes when you press the accelerator pedal, and stops when you press the brakes. Cars in this class have no soul and apart from enthusiasts who visit car sites like this one, people don’t expect them to (IMHO). 

      Come to think of it, the one thing that did stand out and was glaringly bad, but that I couldn’t for the life of me work smoothly into my article, was the sound of the turn signal indictor. The first time I heard it, I literally burst out laughing and thought that I was on candid camera. This happened the second and third times, too. It wasn’t until the fourth time that I could stop laughing and just shake my head in disbelief. It sounded like a reject from a Nintendo sound effects reel. It was completely electronic sounding, artificial, and childish. I don’t know if the North American-market Optima will get the same indictor sound, but if it does, that’ll give plenty of people plenty to write about!

      I actually told the Kia representative who was with me that the sound was so terrible that it would stop me from buying the car; and that’s true. The sound was completely and utterly ridiculous and had no place being on a $2.00 toy car let alone a $25,000+ family car. His response was: “We can disconnect it.” LOL

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The KDM Optima is tuned for the Korean market and is a bit “soft” (tho, a little sportier than the KDM Sonata).

      Apparently, those looking for a “sporty sedan” probably won’t be happy w/ the non-SX trims of the USDM Optima since Kia USA supposedly is gearing those trims for the heart of the mainstream, mid-size sedan market.

      The best shot will likely be the SX based on how the Sorento in SX trim is a good bit sportier than the non-SX Sorento trims.

      In the lower trims, the Australian market Optima will likely have the sportiest suspension tuning.

      Have to agree that the biggest disappointment is the interior design, esp. the center stack.

      While it is apparent that Kia went for a driver-oriented dash design, the lines are all wrong and some of the bits look chinzy (the Sonata’s dash/center stack design is a lot more graceful and appealing).

  • avatar
    ALB-MAN

    Even though I think the car looks tacky, Hyundai and Kia have done a good job in the recent years appealing to my age group (17+) with its more energetic styling. I have been a honda fanboy since birth, but im beginning to lean towards hyundais, kias, and mazdas just because of their looks. Even though I think a honda accord is better underneath the skin, I would probably much rather drive this.

  • avatar
    rfahey

    Strange article. It’s primarily about the car’s styling and gives failing marks in that department, but then concludes the car will be a hit. This car is outselling the allegedly superior Sonata in S. Korea, and the US market will scoop this up on styling alone. You know, the car’s weak point …

    On another note, have you seen Kia’s stock lately? Go to http://www.ft.com and look it up.

    • 0 avatar

      The stories about the K5 outselling the Sonata in South Korea were greatly exaggerated. It did happen, but only when looking at the numbers in a very specific way.

      For the first three full months of its availability in S. Korea, the K5 narrowly outsold the Sonata by 2,423 units (28,860 VS. 26,437). That is the ONLY time when the K5 has outsold the Sonata. And it’s worth nothing that it was by a rather insignificant margin.

      Year-to-date since the K5 arrived on the Korean market, the Sonata has outsold the K5 by 13,280 units (61,589 vs. 48,309). And while Sonata sales have been increasing, K5 sales are decreasing.

      The K5 has been available in Korea for 5.5 months and has sold 48,308 units in that time. By comparison, the Sonata sold 88,624 in it’s first 5.5 months of availability.

      Sonata vs. K5 sales in South Korea (source: Korean Automobile Manufacturers Association)

      Month     /     K5     / Sonata
      May           3,552       9,053
      June        10,673       9,957
      July         10,105        8,649
      August       8,082        7,831
      Sept.         8,456       13,860
      October     7,441        12,239
      Total          48,309          61,589

      Sonata sales in South Korea (source: Korean Automobile Manufacturers Association)

      Sept. 2009:  9,517 units
      Oct. 2009:  17,906 units
      Nov. 2009:  17,464 units
      Dec. 2009:  17,592 units
      Jan. 2010:   13,928 units
      Feb. 2010:  12,217 units
      Total:             88,624 units 

      Saying that the K5 outsells the Sonata in Korea is a precarious arguement at best. It has done so in a very limited scope, but overall, the Sonata still sells supreme. I suspect that things will be no different once the two cars compete in the States.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      but overall, the Sonata still sells supreme. I suspect that things will be no different once the two cars compete in the States.

      The States are different. Remember, the Sonata sales are “production limited” here. If a buyer is looking for a Sonata Turbo and can’t get one because of a shortage, the Optima Turbo will be the next choice. KIA dealers will also probably see Sonata prospects looking for a deal. Hyundai dealers won’t be dealing on the Sonata, but that might not be the case at KIA with the Optima.

    • 0 avatar

      @MCS: Sonata sales in Korea were production limited as well. The factory here in Korea can only make 17,500 or so vehicles per month. Dealers were taking orders for 20,000 units per month for the first couple of month.

      I don’t even know where the US model Optima (K5) will be produced, but I’m quite confident that it won’t outsell the Sonata over the long term.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The USDM Optima is slated to be produced at Kia’s Georgia plant.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I wouldn’t base US sales projections on Korean market numbers. I’m speculating that US buyers prefer a larger vehicle than Korean buyers, and the Optima is priced well into compact territory. I think that Americans would be more likely to make the jump to a larger vehicle when given a choice between a similarly priced compact and a larger vehicle like the Optima than Korean buyers. So, I’d expect the Optima to steal more sales from the compact segment than it would in Korea and increase it’s numbers here.

    • 0 avatar

      Simply put, my point is this: the USDM Optima will not outsell the USDM Sonata. Won’t happen. No way, no how.

  • avatar
    pariah

    That is one mean-looking Kia!
     
    But it is in desperate need of that new 2.0T the Sonata enjoys…

  • avatar

    I thought we had this discussion on TTAC just a short while ago.
     
    ->Ie: We all decided on no design crits.
     
    If I want to hear one, I’ll call my art profs or designer pals.

    .
    Otherwise, a few well-studied facts and figures, but a largely useless review.

    That single hood strut you took pains to outline is the standard-bearer of how misguided this review was.
    And if this were a frat, I’d epoxy one to your forehead and make you keep it there for an entire week as a reminder to keep your future reviews pithy.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Rule violations aside, thanks to Walter for linking to the shot of the Sonata interior for comparison.  No way I’d get in a K5 after seeing the Sonata.  Walter, is the faux wood as bad as it appears in the photos?

    • 0 avatar

      @ willman: Thanks for the (constructive?) criticism. I wasn’t aware of an agreement between TAC readers, contributors, and editors to avoid design crits. If you take offense at my apparent rule violation, perhaps you should discuss the matter with the editors of TTAC as ultimately they are the ones responsible for what does and does not appear on the site.

      Also, as the model I drove was the KDM version and it was driven on Korean roads, I’m not sure that my driving impressions would have any relevance to readers anywhere but in Korea.

      The intention of my article was to give a close-up look at a vehicle that is not yet available in the US; a sort of “first-look” if you will. And I think my varied and unique pictures and commentary do just that!

      @ Russycle: The faux wood is even worse than it looks in the pictures, but I don’t think it will be offered on the N. America version. It’s a Korean thing (I think). The N. American version will have faux carbon fiber or something similar (I think).

  • avatar
    Carlos Villalobos

    I just sat on the Kia Optima 2011 here in the Salon del Automovil de Santiago, Chile a couple of weeks ago. I have to disagree with Mr. Foreman. I found the car`s interior moderns and practical. The only gripe I have are the seats that are too flat and the headroom is not enough. Apart from that, great car. Excellent position for the flappy paddles.
    The exterior for me looks more to the XF than Audi.
    Kia and Hyundiai here are doing great, even before the rest of the world started notice them so this car will be selling very well.
    Regards
     

  • avatar
    Patrickj

    Is this vehicle designed for some special breed of drivers and front seat passengers whose knees touch at all times?
    The console manages to intrude on both driver and passenger, and the speaker on the driver’s door may not be much better.

  • avatar
    Mehdi

    If accord and sonata ever marry , this would be their son, he got his undergrille from uncle fusion though!!

  • avatar
    Acubra

    How’s plagiarism in Korean?.. Oh, sorry, I mean – inspiration!
    Accord Coupe Bling edition with kimchi flavor on the outside.
    The dash is from new saab 9-5, but the clay model melted a bit while being transported to Kia studio.
    In the end you get something as attractive as Ssang-Yong Rodius, just sharper.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      I guess you never noticed the resemblance btwn the front fasica of the Accord and the previous Sonata (well, before the refresh).

      Also, the Optima takes a no. of its syling cues, including its headlights, from the Kia Kue concept which dates back to 2006-7.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “Monet: gorgeous from a distance, but more than a little muddled at close quarters…”
    What?! Really? While I agree with your conclusion about the car, I think you need to take a longer look at some Monets.
     
    @acubra– yeah about the dash, though that’s mainly because of the driver-centric arrangement (horrors!). It definitely got beat with the ugly stick a few times en route, though.

  • avatar
    lawmonkey

    Thanks for the review Walter, with a different perspective and extensive comment participation.  While there was a discussion about the merits of critiquing design elements here a while back, I found the review as a whole interesting.
     
    That whole blacked out roof is the biggest offender for me.  Not a big deal in general, but the fact that they squeezed it to where it doesn’t line up with the front and rear windshields just looks…wrong.  It kind of matches the grill shape, but still looks…wrong.  Then again I own a TL, so clearly I’m not one to talk about cohesive, beak-free design.

  • avatar

    Like the current Accord, it has a number of nice touches that make it look upscale. Also like the Accord, the elements don’t come together in a cohesive way. Unlike the Accord, on the Optima the proportions look about right.

    One Pop culture reference you missed: The Ninja Turtle grin:
    http://www.toy-tma.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Ninja-Turtles-Comic-Figures1.jpg

  • avatar

    I’ve been following this car for quite some time.  Rather harsh review but it’s an outlier so I’ll safely ignore the styling criticisms.  I’ve heard a lot of praise for the interior, which I’d link to but maybe that’s bad form on another site?  Not sure.  In any case many refer to the interior as “thinking you’re in a more expensive car.”, the exterior as “a seriously attractive automobile” and “almost Jaguar XF-esque in execution”  granted this is for the SX model on both exterior comments I believe.
    I’ve also seen the interior compared favorably to the Sonatas on multiple occasions.  I prefer it myself, but mainly because I dislike the Sonatas steering wheel look and like the Optimas.  Other than that it’s two different styles that people will like one over the other based on personal preference.  Both are very good, imo.
    As to the gorgeous from afar and a mess up close, that conflicts with another review saying it’s even better up close and in person and all the others saying it’s “the style leader” and such.  So perhaps subjective?  If so the review here seems to be in the minority from the accounts I’ve seen and my own eyes.  I’ve also noticed the Sonata and Optima can vary in look quite a bit from the cars color.  Darker colors seem to fair better, maybe it hides the lines better and makes it look more “clean”.  I personally prefer the red myself:
    http://images.thecarconnection.com/lrg/2011-kia-optima_100316654_l.jpg
    However this review did mention a couple of things I had been worried about with the K5/Optima, the seats and how quiet it is.  I’ve heard it’s well insulated and this confirms it, but I’ve also read the seats are a bit firm and flat.  Some even saying they were outright uncomfortable.  Glad to hear this review found the seats to be ok at least.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I saw the Optima at the Sacramento Auto Show last weekend.  I was very curious to see this car.  The one on display was light silver… and I had a very similar thought to the reviewer about the number of cut lines and awkward details on the body, though from afar I found the shape handsome.  I agree that the dark colors will likely work best on this car for that reason.

    The interior reminded me a lot of the Saab 9-5.  I thought it was nice, but then again, I bought a Saab 9-5 (twice) so what do I know?  It was certainly nice for a car that costs under $20k in base trim with a ton of standard features.

    While I’m glad to note that Kia will offer a manual transmission option, I am disappointed that this will only be on the most base model and will not be available with cruise control in the U.S. (this is from the Kia configurator site).  The manual trans will be the proverbial unicorn… read about them but never seen in the flesh.

  • avatar

    I love the looks of this car, in and out. The value is great,,,the mid level model for a little over 23K out the door without any discount off list? Great. I like the looks/package much more than the Sonata. Mileage is great for this size of car. Has anyone out there that has purchased the 2011 Optima have any meaningful feedback on real world mileage yet???

    • 0 avatar
      mmbnyc2003

      I drive the base model 2011 optima with the 2.4 non-turbo GDI.
      I use regular gas.
      As with all cars, the 25/35 rating is a stretch.
      I average 22mpg when I am doing 70/30 city/hwy.

      I average about 28 when I am doing about 40/60 city/hwy.

      I am sure I would get just over 30 if was somehow able to keep the car on the highway all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      mmbnyc2003

      i should also add that i drive with the AC on ALL THE TIME, usually on 3, because I live in SFL and its hot down here.

  • avatar
    daviel

    I am going to buy one as soon as my 2011 Sportage wears out. I like it.

  • avatar
    UnbiasedAuthority78

    I have read about 13 reviews on this car and in every review it was given high praises.  I was somewhat disappointed that it seemed like the reviewer had so many negative things to say about the car.  The only gripe I hear from Mr. Foreman is that he doesn’t care for the styling inside and out (not to mention that he hates the turn signal sound effect).  I have researched this car pretty extensivley and think it is one of the most attractive mid-size sedans on the market.  It just got top safety pick as well. I loved the Sonata initially, but feel that this car is sexier and the car seems more solid than the Sonata.  I used to work for Hyundai, so I’ve spent more time with the Sonata than most people have.  Still a great car though, I just like the Kia design and layout better.

    Anyhow, if you like the looks, don’t let this review deter you from checking the car out yourself.  The amount of creature comforts you get at this price point is astounding.  The Camry and Accord have to be 2 of the most boring looking cars out there.  Their interiors are just as uninspiring as well.

  • avatar
    daviel

    UnbiasedAuthority78,  All these auto sites have their biases.  TTAC is a source of much Kia-hate, as the instant superficial ‘review’ by Mr. Foreman clearly shows.  TTAC has a thing for plastics and wood – note Mr. Foreman hates the wood, too – and will jump on those issues. I cannot understand it, but there it is.  You read it here. You can find more balanced and useful Kia reviews elsewhere, alas.  To each his or her own. Me, I am getting an Optima SX as soon as my sportage wears out – I have my biases, too.

  • avatar
    mmbnyc2003

    Comparing the K5 to a Camry or Accord.. Really?
    Lets start by saying the 4 cylinder accord is 4 grand more than the K5 Optima. 4 grand more for a car with “maybe” the same power.
    The Camry is a 6 cylinder and it is at least 5k more.
    Now I have never drove a Honda and I will be keeping that way.. but I have driven Toyota cars, Camry included and lets just say that people must really believe in Toyota’s reliability because they are no fun to drive.. unless you have a Supra, of course.
    My 4 cylinder k5 engine gets better mileage, has better pickup, better cornering..
    AND, all I get is compliments about the interior, even from my buddy with OCD.. and I drive the base model!
    With that said, shortcuts were taken.
    No Cruise Control in the base model. Electronics are not intelligent meaning dont auto up, window lock out prevents driver from controlling windows as well as passengers(never seen that before) and out of two chargers, neither is “hot” always on.
    With that said, if driving makes you happy, k5 kicks but.

  • avatar
    mzim2000

    I have a US spec Optima SX and read this review with mixed feelings. Obviuosly, I liked the car enough to buy one, while it is not perfect, it is a value for the price. I personally really like the styling especially when compared to the Accord, Camry and to a lesser degree the Mazda 6. I like it MUCH better than the new Sonata which I already find to be growing old on me.

    Inside, I like the design elements as well. The dash and the door do line up unlike the reviewer noted, not as smoothly as most modern cars but I fail to see what is the big deal. Sure, the seat warmer buttons are not ideally placed, the computer screen fades out when sun hits it directly but overall the cabin is a nice place to spend time.

    I find the seats comfortable, lack of side bolsters taken into consideration but really, this is a 4 door sedan not a sports car, taken into consideration when I bought it. Love the dual sunroof (the reason for the black roof some complain about is for the panaramic sunroof by the way).

    The engine runs nice, the 6 spd tranny shifts smoothly, it is quick while not fast (6.5 0-60). The ride is firm but not overly harsh and it handles well, not doing slaoms in it anyway.

    Mileage? On a recent 250 mile trip I averaged 32.3 mph going 70 mph, in “eco” mode I was at 33.9 ppg. City driving I am right around 21 mpg and thats with me sticking my right foot down from time to time.

    Overall, it is a very pleasant automobile. Stylish, quick, quite and reasonably comfortable. A bit pricey I think, the Koreans are quickly catching up to some tough competition in this price range but I felt it had good value.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    Dealer has no brochures for the 2012 Optima, the website for Kia has nothing at all for the 2012 model and refuses to allow a request for any brochure due to poor programming of the site. An attempt to contact Kia customer service via the website fails due to programming in the site. A call to Kia customer service results in a 10 minute wait to be answered and even they do not have a brochure. Nowhere can you find the official specs for the 2012 Kia. Some websites purport to have them, but they must be taken with a grain of kimchi.

    How can anyone have much faith in a company that fails so badly in communicating with the buying public? Do you really want to spend up to $30 large with a company that cannot manage a simple website? I have cash to buy the car, but no information. I am quickly losing faith that Kia is a car maker rather than just another throw-away appliance maker.

    Have others had this experience?


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