By on January 19, 2011

Offering everything from the Accent subcompact to the Equus large luxury sedan, Hyundai covers a lot of territory. With gas, turbo, and hybrid engines, and basic, sporty, and luxury trims, the Sonata stakes out much of the midrange sedan segment. Which leaves Kia and its new Optima midsize sedan…where? Mercury to Hyundai’s Ford? Not if Kia and chief design officer Peter Schreyer (of Audi TT fame) can help it.

For better or worse, the new 2011 Kia Optima looks nothing like the Hyundai Sonata, or anything else in the segment. While the Sonata is hardly vanilla, the Optima’s design is bolder. As with the Sonata, chrome is employed in a new way. In the Sonata, a chrome strip extends forward from the base of the side windows to the headlight. In the Optima, one starts at the base of the A-pillar, runs along the top of the side windows, continues across a dramatically kinked C-pillar (itself unusually split between the rear door and the body), then runs down the side of the rear window, terminating at its base. The way this strip visually splits the C-pillar is unique. (For a more conventional alternative, see the 2004-2008 Nissan Maxima, where a strip that runs along the ditch molding then down the side of the rear window isn’t visible from the side of the car.) Sometimes I really like Schreyer’s innovation, sometimes it seems contrived, busy, and even jarring. Paint color plays a role: the strip stands out much more on deep colors like the dark cherry of the tested car. On a white car, like first Optima I saw in the metal, it looks more elegant.

Less open to debate: the new Optima’s monstrous front overhang. The headlights that extend a full foot-and-a-half into the fender can’t conceal it; the eye can only be fooled so much. This monstrosity is puzzling. Without the need to fit a V6—only fours are offered—the nose could have been and should have been much more compact. Perhaps to mirror the headlights, the tail lights extend deeply into the rear fender. Even with this odd touch the visual mass of the rear fender makes the 17-inch alloys appear undersized. The 16s on the base trim must look puny.

With so many unusual details successfully vying for attention, the longer you look at the Optima the harder it becomes to perceive a cohesive whole. The primary goal was likely to make the Optima stand out, and this has been accomplished. It won’t be mistaken for a Sonata, or anything else. It’s just not beautiful. Schreyer clearly had to work with the proportions Hyundai gave him, not the ones he wanted. If only the front axle could be shifted forward four inches…

My impressions of the Optima’s dramatically different, nicely finished interior similarly started high, then declined with familiarity. Driver-centered instrument panels are so rare these days, especially in sedans. Even BMW watered down its iconic IP design years ago. So it was refreshing to encounter inside the Optima an instrument panel that emphatically angles everything towards the driver. On top of this, many details, such as the air vents, faux-stitched trim ringing the IP, and the upholstery pattern of the seats, lend the interior a sporty, upscale, vaguely European ambiance. A prevalence of soft-touch surfaces backs up the visual impression.

After a week, though, there’s simply too much going on, with many details poorly designed or unresolved. For example: why is the area around the start button black while the corresponding area to the left of the steering wheel is tan? And why are the switches to the seat heaters vertically arranged to the right of the shifter, where the driver can’t see them? The ergonomic issues don’t end with these switches. Though the buttons on the center stack initially appear thoughtfully arranged, even after a week I had to spend far too much time with my eyes off the road hunting for the one I wanted. One unwelcome departure from the norm: a two-button operation to tune the audio system. After using a rocker switch to go from station to station, you must hit a separate “enter” button to actually select one. Station surfing isn’t practical. For that, you’ll want to use the audio display on the touchscreen—except that the touchscreen is a little too far away. Finally, my middle-aged eyes had trouble reading the red graphics at night.

The front seats initially appear those of a sport sedan, but they’re firm without a purpose as the side bolsters are too far apart to provide lateral support. Rear seat legroom is plentiful, but the cushion is a little too low to the floor—a common shortcoming among sedans with stylishly arched rooflines. The trunk is large, and can be further expanded by folding the rear seat, but cannot be unlocked without either first hitting the keyless entry button on a front door handle or hitting a button on the fob. Why doesn’t the keyless access work with the trunk?

This being a Kia, you do get a lot of features for the $27,440 MSRP (EX with Technology and Premium Packages; for the turbo and its larger, 18-inch alloy wheels add another $2,000). The related Hyundai Sonata is aggressively priced. But load up both sibs, and the Optima lists for $775 less—and according to TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool includes $800 in additional features. Items on the loaded Optima that you can’t even get on the Hyundai include the panoramic sunroof (regular sunroof on the Sonata), cooled front seats, driver seat memory, power front passenger seat, and a heated steering wheel.

As in the Sonata, a 200-horsepower direct-injected 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine pairs with a manually-shiftable six-speed automatic to provide brisk acceleration. A 274-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter is also available, but few drivers in this segment will have any need for its additional thrust. A manual transmission is only available with the non-turbo engine in the base trim. In “Eco” mode the automatic transmission sometimes lugs the engine, but in general it selects the appropriate gear and reacts quickly to driver inputs. Shifts aren’t the smoothest—the best these days are imperceptible—but they’re far from harsh. One unexpected lapse in refinement: the powertrain has a rough spot around 800 rpm that is very perceptible through the steering wheel every time when braking to a stop. Once at a stop with a foot firmly on the brake the bad vibes disappear. But let the car roll even the slightest bit, or have accessories on that effect a bump in idle speed, and they’re back.

Fuel economy in suburban driving varies widely based on the heaviness of one’s right foot. With a very heavy foot I observed 20 on a trip to the mall. With a very little foot I observed 33 on the return trip. Driving the car like my mother I observed mid-twenties. And on my test loop of curvy road in full hoon mode…9.6. But the last doesn’t really count, as hardly anyone will drive the Optima so aggressively in real life. In straight highway driving at a steady speed mid- and even high-thirties are possible. Hyundai is serious about boosting fuel efficiency, and Kia shares the benefits.

The Optima’s steering is heavier than the segment average, with an especially firm feel on center. This plus decidedly firm suspension tuning lend the Optima a surprisingly sporty feel in casual driving. It’s not as sporty as the most aggressively tuned front drivers—the Acura TL and Nissan Maxima—but the difference compared to the Sonata is significant. The Optima also feels lighter and smaller than the typical midsize sedan. Partly because, at just over 3,200 pounds, it is lighter. But, by the same measure, it feels less substantial. The Optima might look European, but it doesn’t feel European.

Actually push the car through a challenging set of curves, and the sporty tuning suddenly seems superficial. The steering might have less assist, but there’s still little in the way of actual feedback. The steering isn’t intuitive, necessitating overly frequent corrections. Understeer is minimal, but the car leans enough that the inside front wheel fairly easily loses traction. The firm suspension tuning doesn’t translate into exemplary composure. Though firmly sprung, it’s underdamped, and over uneven pavement the car pitches, bounds about, and sometimes even floats a bit. The best cars feel better the harder you push them. The Optima suffers from the opposite tendency. Up to 6/10s or so it feels good. Beyond that point the harder you push the Optima the less precise it feels. Back on the boulevard, the firm suspension tuning makes for a lumpy ride, though not a harsh one.

Then there’s the stability control. A few weeks ago Ronnie criticized the system in the Kia Sportage for over-reacting on snow-covered roads. The system in the Optima does the same. On ice it’s okay, but on snow it tends to drastically cut engine power and obtrusively work the brakes mid-turn. I ended up turning it off much of the time, a step I avoid taking in an unfamiliar car. The Optima’s handling is very safe and predictable, so driving on snow and ice remained easy.

Ultimately, too much of the new Kia Optima—from the styling, to the ergonomics, to the steering and suspension tuning—seems to have been rushed. In a laudable bid to distance itself from Hyundai, Kia ambitiously turned the knob up to 11 (on the tame family sedan scale), but neglected the details. The result is certainly intriguing, and to be fair it’s a good, attractively priced car that deserves a look from any enthusiast shopping for a midsize sedan. But with more time spent finessing this and that it could have been a great one. Maybe with the next refresh?

Kia provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh owns TrueDelta, an online source of automotive reliability and pricing data.


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109 Comments on “Review: 2011 Kia Optima EX...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This car is the spiritual successor to Pontiac.  And I don’t mean the Pontiac of yore, or the last gasp-Pontiac that have us the Solstice and G8.  No, this car reminds me of the Sunfire/Grand Am/Grand Prix/Bonneville Pontiac I know and (sort of) love: from the needless and incoherent styling quirks to the fussy ergonomics to the power-without-purpose powertrain, it’s the Grand Am all over again.
     
    I’m sure it’ll sell in droves (and usually draped in red paint) and I hope it convenices Hyundai to tone down it’s own models in response.
     
    Not saying that it’s not a nice car, potentially, only that I find the “spiritual sympatico” interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      If this is the result of turning the tasteless knob to 11, the Grand Prix must have turned that same knob to 16 and the Bonneville was pushing 20.
       
       
       
       

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldn’t say that the Optima is tasteless. When I first saw the car in person I was wowed by it. There’s just a lot going on, and the various bits don’t meld well from many angles. And the front overhang, which was no doubt dictated by engineering rather than design.

    • 0 avatar

      I dunno about the Bonnevilles. Most of the Bonnies built over the past two decades were pretty understated styling wise. I’ve always been a little partial to the early 90s Bonneville. I drove one for a while and it wasn’t a bad car. Reliable (3800 I think, it was a long term loaner from a friend), comfortable, not a bad handler for an American full size FWD sedan, okay gas mileage, plush interior.
      The rest of Pontiac’s lineup, sure, ugly as sin. All those supernumery nostrils and body cladding. I guess when all that’s left of your identity are holes in sheet metal and plastic trim, it’s time for euthanasia. GM didn’t kill Pontiac, it was dead a long time ago, they just finally buried it.

    • 0 avatar
      Doc

      I am with psarhjinian on this. I liked the early nineties Pontiacs. Loved the Bonnevilles and liked some of the grand prix’s also. The Grand Prix STE Sedan was not bad looking. They must have been decently reliable because I still see a fair amount of them on the road.
      I looked at the Optima at the NAIAS today and I too was stunned when I first saw it, but after a few seconds, the front overhang was all I could see.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      Most of the Bonnies built over the past two decades were pretty understated styling wise.
       
      Speaking only for the final iteration, what it refrained from on the outside was made up for on the dashboard.  And that exterior restraint only lasted for one owner.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla-

      Pontiac: We Build Subtlety?

    • 0 avatar
      brighterdougG8

      The only reason I am reading this Kia review is because of my month old Pontiac G8! The design of the G8 is STUNNING! Then I see the Kia TV ads with some similar looking styling! Crazy how the Pontiac comments show up here now! Loved my 1986 Pontiac Sunbird Turbo GT! And I was looking at Grand Prix and Bonneville over the last few years. Now Pontiac is gone. The Kia does have some great features. Saw an Optima in person, bigger than I thought. The G8 is HUGE in comparison. I’ll be happy blowing past 95 percent of the cars on the road. Now for gas to go down again…..

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      In profile, this Optima reminds me of the Grand Prix.  Compare picture IT1 to this:
       
      http://www.uneedapart.com/images/pontiac-grand-prix-parts.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Don’t see how one could compare the Optima to the Pontiac designs of that era which were filled w/ awful body-cladding.

  • avatar
    dwford

    This review is spot on for a Sonata, just change the names. Kia’s new plan is to take the Hyundai mechanicals, drop anew body on it, add a few features not offered on the Hyundai, and sell for slightly less.

    I agree about the styling. Say what you want about the Sonata, but inside and out the design is a cohesive whole. The Optima not so much.

    The turbo motor is nice, but totally unnecessary. Half the time when I take people on a test drive in the turbo, they don’t hit the gas hard enough to feel the extra power.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Maybe my wife isn’t a 7/10th (or more) kind of driver…which is maybe why she really likes the new Optima.  The styling appeals to her, as does the feature-filled list for the price of the EX model.  We test drove one over the weekend, and it’s a rather nice car, actually.  Sitting in the Optima versus the Sonata she preferred the Sonata.  It’s quiet and offers unexpected pick-up.  And it does look much better in darker colors, her favorite being the same Dark Cherry tested here.  I prefered the test drive in the new 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited, but since the next car purchase is her’s to decide, there is a better than average shot that a new Optima will be in our driveway later this year.

  • avatar
    strafer

    I wish car reviews reflected the intended purpose of the car.
     

    • 0 avatar

      Normally I expect less of a family sedan, but the styling of this one suggests it should perform well when pushed.
      Aside from the handling critique I believe the review reflects how such cars are typically used.

    • 0 avatar

      strafer,
      So does that mean that if I’m offered a week with a minivan I should rent a young family so I can shlep the kids to school and soccer?
      Every car shares at least one common purpose, the ability to get from point A to point B in relative safety and comfort. Every car can be evaluated on it’s own merits or demerits without having to compare it to any other vehicle.
      Yes, it would be silly to complain, in a review, that you had trouble using a Lotus Elise to transport your collection of 1,000 LP records, just as it wouldn’t make much sense taking a family crossover to an autocross or track day (though that would make for very entertaining writing).
      The other day someone asked me how I write a review. The first thing is that I keep a short list of flaws, things that annoy me. Then I concentrate on the car’s dynamics: how it handles (the first car I bought was a Lotus), what the brakes are like, how’s the acceleration in normal driving. I pay attention to how the suspension reacts, is it harsh, what the body roll is like on turns. What are the seats like (I have a bad back), how is the visibility (I’m short), do the gizmos work, how does the sound system sound (I’m a low-buck audiophile), are the controls intuitive. Then I’ll go on to comfort issues, what the upholstery is like, trim, HVAC. I’ll check out the trunk, what the seating in the rear is like.
      Meanwhile I’m using the car as my daily driver for a week. I’ll try to vary the kinds of driving I do to get a get balance of city vs highway, and obviously depending on the car I might be more likely to just go for a ride and see what’llshedo.
      Then I sit down, try to take a measure of the car as a whole, write down all of the above, try to make it at least a little bit stylish and entertaining in terms of the wordcraft, and do it all in somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 words. The truth is, though, that just the facts can take 700-1,000.
      So it’s possible, perhaps likely, that any one review will not hit all the notes you want us to hit. You can’t cover every possible topic on the car and you can’t satisfy every reader.
      Feedback like yours is important. However, if you could explain just how this review didn’t reflect the intended purpose of the car, that will help me, and Michael, I’m sure, do a better job in the future.

  • avatar
    cirats

    Since I went out of my way to criticize the photography on a review a couple days ago (2011 Jaguar XKR), I thought it only fair to go out of my way to compliment the photography on this one.  Granted I haven’t seen one of these cars on the road yet, but this set of pictures appears to give a very true representation of what this car would look like if you came across it, which is what I like to see in the photos that accompany a review.  Fine to have an artsier photo or two in the review as well but keep most of them like these.  Very helpful, so thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks. I didn’t take the XKR photos, but some of my earlier ones haven’t been good. So I recently bought a new camera (Panasonic FZ40) that both gives me a wider angle and seems to do better with imperfect and uneven lighting.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I noticed the same thing here.  Nice pics.

    • 0 avatar

      While I’d be the first to say that it’s absolutely amazing what someone with no photographic skill can do with a modern point ‘n shoot camera, I’d also be the first to say that I’m an ignoramus about photography. The site’s owners don’t give us a budget for a photographer, so if one I have the chance to take some original shots of the car and they come out well enough to publish, my reviews will have some original photos. Otherwise you’ll see publicity stills from the mfg. In the future, I’ll be shooting everything in 3D for CID so the photos here will be one of a left/right pair.
      If any of the B&B who live in the Detroit area want to give me a tutorial on photography, I’m open to it.

    • 0 avatar
      mazder3

      @Ronnie:
      If nobody offers to be a tutor, head to your local off-price book store or even Goodwill. How to Photograph Cars by James Mann is really good if you can find it. Ebay and Amazon want waaaaay too much for it though. I paid $6.95.
       

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Off topic, but Panasonic (and probably others as well) makes some astonishingly good cameras for crazy low prices. I’ve been an avid photographer since the 1970s, and I’m amazed at what can be done with $200-$300 cameras today.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Ronnie,
       
      If you want to take your photography to the next level, you might some day consider a cheap digital SLR from Nikon or Canon and a fast normal prime lens like a 24mm f2.8 or 35mm f1.8 (full disclosure – I own a Nikon DSLR and love it). The larger digital SLR sensors have nicer color depth and dynamic range(ie: how much detail can be pulled from an extremely dark or an extremely light area instead of just being washed out to white or black) compared to a point & shoot.
       
      http://manofthehouse.com/gadgets/cameras/point-and-shoot-vs-slr-cameras-what-are-the-real-differences
       
       

  • avatar
    Russycle

    That chrome on the C-pillar just looks wrong.  And that overhang, it’d be nice to see what they could do if they chopped about 6 inches off there.  Although there doesn’t seem to be a lot of wasted space in that engine bay.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s plenty of empty space ahead of the engine–it’s just not visible in the photo.
      The high rear-quarter shot included with the review suggests what the car would look like with less front overhang, since much of said overhang isn’t visible from this angle. This angle also deemphasizes the visual mass of the bodysides. Check out the straight from the side shot for a less flattering angle.

  • avatar
    Monty

    Michael: The Taurus X looks awesome!

    I prefer the styling of the Optima to that of the Sonata – the Sonata looks very “busy” and will look dated in a few years. Perhaps this is why I don’t mind the Camry and the Fusion, because after 5 years, and at least one refresh for both, the originals still look fresh.

    I noticed when test driving an Elantra Touring, the parts don’t total the sum – it looks and sounds good on paper, but the actual car just didn’t seem to have any “chemistry”** with me. Is the Optima similar?

    I’m starting the search now for the next vehicle, and the Sonata, Optima and Elantra are on the list. But if the new Elantra, and Optima and Sonata don’t improve the “chemistry”, none of them may make the final shortlist.

    ** The connection between driver and car – my Focus and I have a great relationship. On the other hand my Sierra and I, not so much. It has to do with steering feel, road feel and other assorted things, but mostly it’s the need or want to just jump behind the wheel and do some cruising or hooning, just because.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t driven an Elantra Touring, but from your description I’d say that the Sonata and Optima are similar. Very few cars have the chemistry you describe because it’s very much an art, and large organizations aren’t good at art. Especially not when they’re relatively new at the business and / or haven’t focused much on the driving experience in the past.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    While the exterior overall doesn’t do much for me (it appears to me to be trying too hard) I do like the layout of the instrument panel, though I do agree about some of the stranger ergonomic choices Kia made. I was impressed with the Sonata so I don’t see the point of this car as-is. Nice review.

  • avatar
    boxelder

    If Hyundai/Kia keep up their recent improvement curve, by the time the next generation rolls around they’ll have all the details nailed.  It’s interesting that the Kia offers the cooled seats while the Hyundai doesn’t, maybe they’ll be offered in next years’ model.  The cockpit reminds me of a Saab.  Simplistic of me to say so, I realize.  Overall, well done, Kia!

    • 0 avatar

      I also see Saab in the basic shape of the instrument panel and the appearance of the vents. But the design would be much cleaner in a Saab.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Of course, Saabs seem to be nigh-on the only cars left with driver-centric layouts. It seems bizarre to me to have the car’s controls pointed off into space, making it uncomfortable for either person to use them. Driver-centric means the driver, who is there all of the time, and needs easier reach, has optimal control; the passenger, who isn’t there most of the time, can afford to reach over a bit to change the radio station (and piss off the driver).
       
      As for similarity to a Saab, compare and contrast with my ’05 9-5.
       
      It may be ‘out of date’, but not only is it driver-centric, it’s function-centric. There’s something to be said for not including a sea of swirly arcs in the name of design. And, as in my car, it doesn’t have to mean ‘stark’.
       
      All of that said, were I looking to go insane and buy a new car, the Kia would have a leg up just for the driver-centric IP.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      This isn’t the first time Hyundai/Kia have taken inspiration from Saab, if that was the intention.  The third-gen Elantra’s dash very clearly aped the Saab’s 7-shape and the hatch was a dead ringer for the NG900/9-3, as was the second-gen Accent hatch, albeit less so.
       
      That said, I’m still seeing more Pontiac than Saab in the actual button layouts.  I don’t mean that as a complement, either.

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    A note about the chrome strip: on the base LX and top (“sport”) SX grades, the top of the door/window trim on the front doors is black, while the chrome strip remains on the tops of the rear doors and on the C-pillars. It looks terribly unfinished. We just got our first ’11 Optima rental at work yesterday, and I noticed it immediately. It might not be that apparent in photos, but in the metal, it’s THERE. Our is silver, too, so the stripe is the least apparent on it. Take a look below to see what it looks like on a darker LX-grade car:

    http://images.gtcarlot.com/pictures/41150724.jpg

    Terrible…

    • 0 avatar

      I hadn’t realized this–just plain wacky.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Playing around with Kia’s online car configurator it shows the chrome strip continuing all the way front on the LX and SX models.  I looked up some photos on Ebay motors however and it showed a LX without the front chrome.  Photos on autotrader.com show plenty of LX models that do have the front chrome however (couldn’t find any SX pictures).
       
      Leaving the front chrome off is such a horrible design decision that I can’t believe it would be done purposefully.  Maybe the car you received just wasn’t finished?  Maybe Kia is doing it to the cars going to rental fleets as an indicator?

    • 0 avatar

      See below. Apparently there’s just a protective coating on the chrome that they sometimes forget to remove during dealer prep.

    • 0 avatar
      wjk

      Actually that black strip is for shipping only and is only there due to a poor pre-delivery inspection.  That black rubber peels right off and should have been pulled off already.  Try it!

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    I still haven’t seen one in person, but I kind of like the long overhang on this one, at least from the pics. I also like the longish hood as well (‘m not much of a fan of the ‘cab forward’ styling of many vehicles). But I’ll wait until I see it in person to say for sure.
     
    I too was a little unclear why you were treating this like more of a sports car, but I do appreciate how your initial enthusiasm might have unraveled a bit the more familiar you became with the vehicle’s quirks. After all this does happen sometimes (just as the reverse can as well where a vehicle grows on you the more you use it). It was a very interesting review.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Drive over an unseen speed-table at 15mph and see how much of that overhang you like is left.
       
      Overhang is not something anyone who drives should like. Cars with excessive overhang look like junk in 1 year. Unless, of course– you live somewhere that has no curbs, no intersections with differences in grade, or– you know… no parking detents.
       
      Michael– Is the overhang such that you’d scrape the bottom air-dam on the detent, while simultaneously bashing the bumper on the curb whenever you pulled-in with familiarity the first time?

    • 0 avatar

      I didn’t scrape or bump anything, but I’m not sure I parked in many lots where this was a risk.

    • 0 avatar
      ninjacoco

      I’d almost be inclined to agree with iNeon, but…it’s a Kia. Despite all of its sporting pretensions and snappy styling, it’ll probably be lapped up by the “driving is meh” masses like most other Kias in existence. I’d love to see them break that mold and keep raising the standards and expectations of what the meh crowd wants in a car, but again, this car isn’t exactly sold to enthusiasts. It’ll do well at what it does, IMHO.
      I like the looks of the front, even if I do think it would be better for the wheels to be moved up a few inches. Long hoods look so much nicer than the bunched-up things a lot of automakers are pushing out today, IMHO. The styling doesn’t really appeal to me elsewhere, but at least they’re trying to work in some kinda classy longer lines to the design, which is neat. It’s a nice departure from the standard squishy blob.

  • avatar
    daviel

    The first time I saw an Optima, I was wowed, too.  I also liked the interior.  This review sounded like the reviewer expected this Optima to be a knock-off of the old Bently discussed yesterday.  Many of the reviers of this ilk seem to be reaching for criticism without regard for the purpose of the car in question.  Somehow, I just cannot relate to the subjective impressions of these reviewers, like this one.  I really cannot get the point; the car is red – my favorite color is green.  I  do not see the point.  For instance, I sat in the car and did not wonder why one side of the steering wheel trim was tan and the other side black.  Never occurred to me.  I guess I am just not “design” centered, not that there is anything wrong with that.  Finally, “A 274-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter is also available, but few drivers in this segment will have any need for its additional thrust.”  – I’ll be a driver in this segment, and that’s the one I am going to get.  Reviews always pine for more power – here it is and it is tossed off. Aimless design criticism makes a good review turn out lame. Maybe a reviewer with a car longer than 15 minutes might find something to like?

    • 0 avatar

      I’m more sensitive to design issues than most people, and when many lines disappear into nowhere, with no natural beginning or end, it rubs me the wrong way. I wasn’t referring to the steering wheel trim, but to the instrument panel at the level of the start button. This is visible in the two photos in the review. Note how much lower the black area extends to the right of the steering wheel. The styling of the black trim around the start button suggests that it will continue on the other side of the steering column, but it doesn’t. The tan trim on the left side is similarly styled to suggest that it will continue on the right side, but it doesn’t. Using the steering column to hide this inconsistency is a quick and dirty solution. I prefer elegant solutions.
      I did find a few things to like, including the performance of the 2.4. But this you disagree with :)
      You won’t find many reviews where I pine for more power. I’ve long been a proponent of designing powertrains so they feel right, which doesn’t necessarily require a lot of power. I also see how quickly the great majority of people accelerate. And it’s not nearly quick enough to require more power than the 2.4 can easily provide.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I’m sure the 2.4 is reasonably quick, but I would opt for the turbo motor because I don’t like having to rev the engine a lot to make power, and then deal with the delay and the noise resulting from that, plus, turbos are cool.

    • 0 avatar
      snowallergy

      Maybe you didn’t sit in it long enough to notice the interior flaws.  As for HP, I see a lot of cars rated over 300 HP running right next to me in traffic a lot. my car is rated at 139 HP.  Here in the traffic of S Florida,  a lot of HP is a waste and goes unneeded and unused.  I hear a lot lately about wasted energy in the US. It must be a cultural thing.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I wonder if the LX with 16″ wheels would be the preferred model.  The much lower price might permit forgiveness of the Optima’s sins, and the higher-profile tires should provide a better ride.

    Oh, my guess on the interior color layout: I think Kia was trying to create symmetry by wrapping the tan color band on both front doors around to the dashboard. The entire glovebox is tan, so maybe they figured they’d do the same on the driver’s side, but really couldn’t continue the tan with the center console. The black interior on the Kia gallery seems to fix this styling nit.

    • 0 avatar

      In other words, they were trying to do different things on each side of the steering column, and made no attempt to resolve the conflict. Instead, the trim magically changes color from black to tan as it passes through the steering column.
      I wonder what their reasons were for not having tan trim around the start button, and visually separating this area from the center stack next to it.

      • 0 avatar
        jfinftw1982

        I drove an LX (automatic) yesterday. It didn’t have the stop/start button, but I thought the same thing from the pictures. That area around the button doesn’t make sense design wise. However, I was thinking since that is an area that’ll have a lot of use. Like an arm rest, door handle, or radio volume knob. So, the area around the button is black (in the tan color option) possibly due to the fact of future wear and tear and discoloration. The car I drove was black-on-black and it didn’t have that problem.

    • 0 avatar

      Michael I think it may be the result of trying to blend two different design proposals. They liked the symmetry of one interior treatment and they liked the center stack and IP of another and the mash up didn’t quite work.

    • 0 avatar
      snowallergy

       I think you about nailed it on the LX. That is about the only trim level that justifies this car.  A 2000 sunroof package is a waste when one considers the back portion of it is just glass that will bake the rear passengers on most warm days. The sonata type sun roof should have been a stand alone option at least on the LX.

  • avatar
    daviel

    How did you like the sunroofs?

    • 0 avatar

      I liked them quite a bit. One minor issue here as well. Hit the automatic open switch to open the shade, and it also opens the sunroof unless you hit the switch at the right time to stop it. Not pleasant with the temp outside in the twenties. I then initially could not get the sunroof to close, as it auto-reversed when I simply tapped the switch. I had to hold my finger on the switch to get it to close without auto-reversing.
      My sons in the backseat found the entire incident hilarious, first having trouble opening the shade without also opening the sunroof, then having trouble closing the sunroof.

    • 0 avatar

      Micheal, when the sunroof opens, does it retract the shade too or can you drive around with the roof open and not know it till you feel the draft like in the Sportage?

    • 0 avatar
      newcarscostalot

      That is funny, but irritating. My friend had a mid 2000’s Elantra, and the shade could be moved by hand back and forth. If you opened the sun roof, the shade would retract automatically. It worked well, and I am surprised not every car is designed like this.

    • 0 avatar

      The shade is also motorized, so it retracts first, followed by the roof.
      If the shade is manual, most sunroofs are designed to automatically retract it.

  • avatar

    I really want to like this car. I love the looks of the Saab 9-3 and see some of it here but with a better service system and more bang for the buck, but that overhang on the front, ergonomics, and the seating really doesn’t do it for me. I find the Sonata 2.0T SE much better overall but the design, steering and driving dynamics are “eh” as well….what to do, what to do.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    With the exception of the chrome strip on the roof, I like the styling. It’s a lot more appealing to me than the overwrought look of the current Sonata.
     
    I also really like the driver-oriented interior. And it doesn’t suffer from the “stupid high belt-line syndrome” that afflicts certain Toyota products.
     
     

    • 0 avatar

      I too really enjoy driver-oriented cars (slight angle of center dash toward driver) – heck, i was shocked when I rode in a 2011 Santa Fe and it had it… not exactly wrap-around as it is in the optima but still a slight angle toward the driver.
       
      It’s not noticeable in the pictures, and I’m surprised Michael didn’t pick up on it but it is very difficult to see out of due to the narrow glass/coupe look.

    • 0 avatar

      The beltline is fairly high, but I’ve driven quite a few cars that were much harder to see out of. The Buick LaCrosse leaps to mind.

  • avatar
    banker43

    The chrome strip really is there on the top of the front door.  It seems like they ship the car to the dealer with a protective rubber strip over the chrome.  It peels right off if you grab the edge with your fingernail. This is getting missed at dealer prep.

  • avatar
    Slee_Stack

    I may not purchase any car anytime soon, but if I do and choose new, this Optima is on my short list.   I honestly am not bothered (at least picture-wise) by the design ‘concerns’ noted here.  Its not perfect in my eyes, but its plenty better than most.  (VW Jetta / Passat anyone??)
     
    As to more power, there is an upfront cost.  But why not have more power and identical (on highway anyway) MPG to boot?
     
    I agree that there aren’t many of us who stomp on the gas when the light turns green to notice a difference.  But come on now, does no one ever punch it on an on-ramp or at least when passing another car on a two lane road?!   I would probably guess that most (in this buying segment) would be served well by the base engine though.
     
    Aside from the Sonata, there aren’t any competitors that will come close in content without forking over at least 5 grand more.  I just see pretty minor nit-picks in this review overall.  I suppose when you get to that point, it must be a pretty good car.

    • 0 avatar
      ceedub

      “As to more power, there is an upfront cost.  But why not have more power and identical (on highway anyway) MPG to boot?”
      There is also increased maintenance cost with the turbo engine.  I browsed the manual during a test drive, and spark plugs must be changed every 45K miles with the 2.0 turbo.  Contrast this with 105K miles for the standard 2.4L.  I don’t think many buyers are taking maintenance into consideration.

  • avatar

    Not understanding people who crit the design of this car; At All.
    Or, translated: 40% Too-large front overhang aside, if you can criticize this design; esp. on a Kia, then it’s official:
    You have either no taste or bad taste.
    -But then, that’s the case with most people.
     
    Visually, it is easily $10k+ above the segment and more or less a small miracle for a Kia to look this good.
     
    The only crit I can agree with is the front overhang. Even modern Audis (or the new Hyundai Elantra) don’t go that far. Haven’t seen the KO IRL, so hard to say if the nose just ~looks~ long, or if it’s minimized a little by diving in -> center. (O brother where art thou, CID + 3D monitor!!?!!)
    As a comparison, the DB9 is  narrow and nosey; like part of their mood-board was a blue shark.
     
    Love the power in that 2.4. -And I thought 167 was high in a Mazda 3!
    Now if only VW could do that.
     
    Suspension was very valuable info to hear about.
    Setup seems contrary to most of the tuning advice I’ve heard.
    Ex: on an 01 Jetta, it gets noticeably better if you just replace the dampers with Koni Reds or Yellows; -even on stock springs.
    +Also, IIRC Lotus favors a Stiff bars+Softer springs approach, and they seem to have 1 or 2 fans.
     
    I wonder what the KO would be like if Kia had done it that way.

  • avatar
    daviel

    It’s much better looking in person.  For some reason, the white ones are striking, to me; and I’m not that great a fan of white cars

    • 0 avatar

      I agree that the car looks better in white. This is why I included a photo of a white car in the set.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      The most striking white vehicle in the photos is the Taurus X. Personally, I think that the styling of a few Ford vehicles (Taurus X, Flex, Fusion) are of a timeless look – ten or twenty years from now, they still will look fresh, unlike many contemporaries (Fiesta, Sonata among the worst) that will look old in just a few years.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Large overhangs (by modern standards) don’t bother me. In fact, the trendy push-the-wheels-to-the-corner look gets old. Maybe it is because I instinctively like large crush zones, or because I think Volvo 240 wagons look cool.
    I’m also not a fan of bigger-is-better tires. That probably comes down to my sensitivity about tire replacement costs. Low profile, large rim diameter tires sell for a big premium. Fifteen inch 65 series tires look just perfect to me :).
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Is there a better used car comparison tool available than kbb.com? I really need a better one since they made me look a fool last time! I’m going to trust their numbers one last time(and I guess into the future if no other comparison tool is available) to illustrate a point.
       
      They’ve got my old first-generation neon coupé and Volvo 245 at the same(10ths of inches don’t matter to me) wheelbase and same interior volume. Martina(Navritavolvo) always felt smaller to me than leon did! It’s the cab forward, I think? 245 has an inch additional rear leg room– neon bests it in all front seat metrics beyond width. This is the reason behind the ‘wheels to the corners’ look. It maximizes interior space whilst minimizing footprint. How else could a neon coupe be as large as a Volvo 240?
       
       
      P.S. Paid $400 for the 1984 230k-showing-but-non-functioning-odometer 245dl 4-Speed w/ OD. Drove it whileever my namesake was having the engine replaced from a broken timing belt. Martina was so crusty underneath that I didn’t want to keep her, even though she ran like a sewing machine. I was kind of sad to see her go!
       
       
      P.P.S. DO NOT hit second-gear in a neon at 45mph whenever you’ve already driven 179,222 hard miles on the original timing belt. It kills leons. :P

    • 0 avatar

      You’re looking for interior dimensions? They’re always subject to gaming, so you can’t precisely compare cars using them. This is why two cars can both have “42 inches of legroom,” yet one of them seems to have quite a bit more than the other.

    • 0 avatar
      KitaIkki

      “I’m also not a fan of bigger-is-better tires. That probably comes down to my sensitivity about tire replacement costs. Low profile, large rim diameter tires sell for a big premium. Fifteen inch 65 series tires look just perfect to me :).”
      +1.  And black-painted steel wheels look better (and last longer) than most alloy wheels.
      185/70R15s are the best.
       

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Yeah– I kind of thought the numbers wouldn’t be exact, but reducing a turning circle by 3′ is excessively inexact. The assumption was that fractions of inches might be an OK margin-of-error. If there isn’t another, it should be here. Frankly– those are the only truths about cars. Everything else is opinion, happenstance or mileage/age.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      185/70R15s are the best.
       
      195/50R14 is my favorite imaginary tire size.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Tiny, high profile tires are great – if you hate grip. I dislike the tractor rims found on a lot of new cars, too (see my post in the recent Mazda article), but tiny, skinny, high profile tires are terrible for handling. The (not that terribly low) profile 17s on my Saab probably saved my a** this summer when a guy decided to pull out in front of me and stop in the dead center of the road. The stock 16s probably wouldn’t have gotten me around him.
       
      Of course, that has less to do with absolute rim size than with profile depth and width, but good luck finding a 7.5″ wide 235/45r14…

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I think it’s cool how the leading edge of the roof reflects the shape of the grill, neat detail.
     

  • avatar
    cantdrive55

    Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder…I personally like the overhang on the front end. I’ve never warmed up to the snubby noses everyone seems to put on cars these days. I really don’t see the overhang as all that large to begin with. I used to own a 73 boattail Riviera back in the day…now that was an overhang! LOL

    I didn’t experience the issue you encountered with traction control when I drove the KO. As a matter of fact I was quite impressed with how well it transitioned between the ice, snow and bare pavement conditions I was driving on. I never once felt like the traction control was acting overly aggressive.

    Oh by the way, I think the car in your photos is Spicy Red, not Dark Cherry. The car I drove was Dark Cherry and it was a very dark red – almost black.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    I saw comments on the interior looking somewhat like the Saab 9-5 (why is that bad again?) but… am I the only person that can see a resemblance to the 2006-2009 Saab 9-5 in the overhang, headlights, and grill?  There were a lot of critics of the Saab “cat-eye” headlights when it first came out… now, every car has then.  Hmmmm.
    The comment section was long, and I lost interest after awhile… so I apologize if this response is duplicated.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Hell, even my ’05 9-5 looks reasonably current, and that was a 2002 refresh.
       
      I rather like the schnoz on my car, but the new stretchy-lights are getting absurd. The fiesta’s lights go back damn near the a-pillar, and I’ve seen other cars that have obviously been face-lifted more than Cher; the headlight ‘stuff’ itself is totally normal, but they yank back the lens cover and just put some grey stuff under it, all the way back.
       
      That said, I’ll take the new styling trends, however, horrid, over the bulbous, fender-gap-alicious mid-to-late ’90s any day. The old-gen Camaro looks like a melted bar of soap, and has fender gaps you could park this Kia Optima in…

    • 0 avatar
      Slee_Stack

      Hmm.  I’m a fan of Saab styling (I loved my ’04 9-5 Aero).  Maybe that explains some of my attraction to the new Optima?  The 06 – 09 9-5 was ridiculed for its ‘Dame Edna’ look.  Not lamps per se, but the chrome ‘glasses’ appearance surrounding them.  Admittedly, I very much preferred the 04-05 look (inside and out).

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Actually, I much prefer how Saab does the center stack (a more clean design than what is in the Optima).

      Overall, don’t really get an impression of Saab on the exterior – the rear window panel/kink is much more reminiscent of the Porsche 924/944.

      As for the front headlights, the downward angled rectangular headlights were taken from the Kia Kue concept and can now be found on cars like the Accord coupe and Lexus RX.

      As for the overhang, it doesn’t look as bad in person (not that it was that bad to begin w/ in comparison to other FWD sedans out there today) – since the headlights/front of the Optima taper back from the grill.

  • avatar
    Damien30

    I’m surprised to hear such criticism about the look of this car.  Of all things that has been the most universally praised. 

    “It’s just not beautiful.”

    Michael can you give us an example of which car you feel is “beautiful”?  Not just more logically laid out or less overhang or such, but superior looking to this car.   Preferably in the same segment as the Optima but even if you wanted to go up to say a entry level Lexus/BMW/Infiniti class.  I think it would help me determine if this is just an overly critical eye or just a wildly different sense of taste. 

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    I agree with many of the criticisms raised in this review.  Admittedly, styling is subjective, but I have been scratching my head at many of the rave reviews of the Optima’s styling I have read, because while it is clearly an aggressive look, it is also one which seriously lacks cohesion.  Kind of a mishmash of what a bunch of different people thought to be sporty styling cues, grafted onto a vehicle that does overall have a very pleasing basic shape.

    And the aggressively sporting styling statement writes a check that the chassis / suspension / steering can’t cash.  “Overpromise and underdeliver” works for some – I prefer the reverse.

    I do think it’s a good thing that Kia went with a very different look than the Sonata, but at the end of the day, the Sonata would be an easy choice for me.  Turbo, natch.

  • avatar
    Slee_Stack

    BTW, the review car is ‘Spicy Red’, not ‘Black Cherry’.  The Cherry color is very, very dark. 

  • avatar
    daviel

    Black Cherry is black with red metalflake  – a way cool color that probably convinced me to buy my 2011 sportage.  Since I think the reviewer is way off base in his design criticism[ :) ], I would like to know what cars he thinks are design triumphs in this segment.  As would Damien30, I would like to know what his standards are – expressed in the pictures of his fave cars, not in just subjective design-babble.  I too like the Saab-ness of the Optima, an insight I got from the posts above – and like a previous post, if that’s all the criticism, then maybe it’s a pretty good car.  Anyway, I’d like to know where the reviewer is coming from – in photos. Where I am coming from is that since buying the Sportage – I have about 6500m on it, I have become a big Kia fan – I have never had a car with as much for the $$$ as this one, including the warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      cantdrive55

      I agree. As I stated above, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I was instantly drawn to the Optima’s styling, so much so that this will be the first 4Dr sedan I have ever owned. In the past, the only cars that ever appealed to me were 2 doors – even my Blazer was a 2 dr. This is the first family sedan that I didn’t look at and think “grandpa car”. From a design standpoint, I think Kia and Peter Schreyer hit the nail on the head, so it would be nice to know what the reviewer considers a beautiful design.

    • 0 avatar
      cpurick

      Plus one here. I’d like to what Michael thinks is the leading design in this segment.

      I have to be honest, the closest car I can compare to the Optima EX is the Acura TSX, which is only a little more refined and a lot more expensive.  And the Optima makes the TSX look, well, like a Honda Accord.

  • avatar

    I have to say after looking at a few Alfa’s (widely considered the “coolest” designed cars on the planet), the Alfa Romeo 159 and Brera both have long overhangs that could arguably be just as long as the Optima’s. The chrome strip running across the top would’ve looked better if it was just removed.

    After sleeping on this review, I think both Hyundai and Kia are trying too hard to make an impression. As with what another reviewer said, give them another generation to bring in a bit of function into their form…. I just hope by then that cars don’t have portholes for windows  and even-harder plastic surfaces that mimic nothing more than, plastic.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    This car will definitely sell. A neighbor just bought one and she loves it, especially the front seats. You may have a skinny butt, Mr. Karesh, but most women don’t. All those details that don’t seem to combine into a cohesive whole? She loves those too. Apparently, women don’t  value “cohesive” the same way men do. Which makes me wonder, are women the target buyers for this model? Maybe an upgrade to the classic “secretaries’ car” Corolla? If so, Kia may have hit its target.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Not scientific at all, but it seems that the curvier, softer lines of the Sonata appeal more to female buyers, while the more angular, masculine lines of the Optima appeal more to male buyers.

  • avatar
    Damien30

    I have seen this car in person and I’ll admit I’ve been following it a while now so I am biased.  I can understand why a reviewer might criticize bits here and there on it.  For instance I think the front is a little busy for my tastes.  that said, the reviewer notes in the article and then below in comments that both the interior and exterior both ‘wowed” him and impressions “started high” but then with prolonged exposure he soured on it.  Mentioning changes like moving an axle a whole “4 inches” forward seems like a rather small nit to pick.  So again I’d ask, what cars do you like?
    Ford Fusion?  Accord, Camry, Altima?  Sonata perhaps?  Or go up a notch to the G37, 328i or C300?
    Regardless, this is the best looking midsizer in the segment period.  You can argue beauty in the eye of the beholder but I’ll counter with consensus.  The critiques here are worthy of noting (nobody is saying the car is perfection) but flat statements like “it’s not beautiful” are an outlier at best.  I’m sure they do represent at least a portion of the population out there so I like to get a sense of what they prefer.  Top 3 beautiful cars under 30k new are?
     
     
     
     

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    That tacky, platic-looking and entirely non-functional front fender vent thing definitely doesn’t fit my idea of “beautiful” from a design standpoint. That’s one design cue they could have left to Buick.

    • 0 avatar
      Slee_Stack

      Buicks already upped the ante.  Now they have even more hideous hood warts on their new Veranza (sp?).  Makes the feux fender ‘vents’ seem pretty stylish!  Hehe.  All kidding aside, I don’t much care for fake fender vents either.  I think I’m used to them now that so many makes use them.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Let’s not forget BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes, Jaguar, Lincoln/Ford, etc.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Interesting take by MK – pretty much all the professional auto reviews have raved about the styling of the Optima (preferring it over the Sonata), w/ the Optima winning a no. of design awards, including the iF design award.

    Also, pretty much all the other reviewers have noticed a diff. driving the Optima (in comparison to the Sonata, w/ the Optima turning into the corners better and having significantly better steering feel – w/ there being an even greater diff. btwn the SX trim of the Optima and the SE trim of the Sonata.

    Personally, my biggest issue w/ the Optima is the design of the dash/center stack (prefer the cleaner design of the Sonata), but it does look better in person than in the photos (at least the quality of materials used is pretty good).

  • avatar
    Acc azda atch

    MAN thank you!
     
    For ONCE ya get a car that’s not a gutter stripper. Its a nicely dark cherry painted car with a nice tan cloth interior.

    Its got a totally different interior feeling than pretty much every other car on the market currently, much more Driver focused with plenty of details.

    So many things about this I like..
    I like the d.i motor and the strut holding up the hood. Interior design is good looking and cohesive (looks right out of a current Audi– just not in death black, with fake chrome trim.) And yet things like the push button start.. that just pisses me off.

    They could put a hatch into this.. makes me wonder if they sell this elsewhere with a hatch. I’d buy on motor, design and fuel efficiency, ntm interior details ALONE. But now I recognize that a 3box sedan isn’t good enough.. was hoping for a hatch. I’m still not biting due to the long term parts quality of the vehicle.

  • avatar
    NoChryslers

    Love the IP.
    The exterior styling is….well, maybe they went a little too far trying to make the car NOT look like the Sonata.  Can’t blame them for trying, but the overall style is not cohesive at all.  But leagues beyond what Chrysler is offering, word.

  • avatar
    snowallergy

    Finally a reviewer of this car that doesn’t wet himself over it.  I too initially liked the car a lot when I first saw it.  But with this one, familiarity does brred contempt.  It’s a great car if one likes sizzle in the place of steak.

    • 0 avatar
      Slee_Stack

      And can you believe it has a heated steering wheel?!? omg, the insanity!  Nice to see you making your HATE rounds Snow.  Go back to wetting yourself on your toyota.

  • avatar
    cpurick

    Michael, just a few things —

    The Starter button surround looks better in black than it would in color b/c of the way it abuts the console.  Also, having owned a Passat, I can tell you that the surround would turn grungy from use on any color other than black, FWIW.

    The stitching’s not faux.  Not on the doors, not around the IP.  There are actual threads.

    Keyless works on the trunk. If you approach the locked car with the fob you can open the trunk directly by the button.  If you unlock the car you can open the trunk by the button without the fob.  Maybe your sample unit had a problem, but on mine it works just like you’d expect.

    The sunroof switch has a detent in each direction.  It’s actually pretty intelligent.  If you move it to the first stop in either direction it will do whatever’s “next.” So if the shade is open, then bumping the switch toward open will open the *glass*, but bumping it toward closed will close the *shade*.  Or, if you push the switch all the way to the stop, then it will open or close both the glass and the shade in the proper sequence.

    And there are at least four ways to operate the radio tuner.  Exactly one of them allows you to preview your radio channels before selecting them — which can be pretty handy.  The other methods all do one touch tuning.

    I’m not sure what the point is, of critiquing obviously subjective design elements.  Overhang? C-pillars?  The color of the start button?  I mean, do people really need “help” interpreting style???

    And if you think the seat heater control is inconveniently placed, you could have at least mentioned that the steering wheel heat indicator cannot be safely checked while driving.

    But that’s okay with me — people who want a heated steering wheel in a car under $27K can’t exactly be choosy.

  • avatar
    Keb

    We got a white Optima EX in January and have had exactly 0 issues.
    Mileage runs 28+ local driving on up to 34.4 on a long trip over the passes to Ft. Collins.

    It remains an eye catcher.

    I do however have one problem.

    I have to park it underneath highway overpasses.

    Otherwise, this Spaceship hovers over me and tries to grab the Optima with some kind of 3 pointed grapple hook.

  • avatar
    VA-driver

    Saying that the turbo is unnecessary for this buyer segment makes no sense. I floored my Optima today and went from zero to 60 in what felt like less than 6 seconds. Nearly snapped my neck. With 270 horses and paddle shifters, the SX is an absolute riot to drive. Driving in the mountains in West Virginia, this car pulled me out of turns going up-hill with no effort at all. Remember to turn the ECO mode off for that kind of driving. Averaging 32 mpg with half-and-half city/highway driving. Some report averages of 37 mpg. My average has been as high as 34. Those are close to hybrid numbers in a zero compromise car.

    I agree that the seat heat and cooling buttons are not visible to the driver. That is bad design. But, when the seats cool, KIA is forgiven quickly.

  • 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?

    • 0 avatar
      cpurick

      I’m pretty sure dealers pay for those brochures. So I wouldn’t expect them to have very many on hand as long as the cars are selling themselves.

      The Optima is not the best car I’ve ever had. It’s one of the best cars I’ve ever had, but it really distinguishes itself for being the single best value that I’ve ever had in a car. You can get somewhat more car, but only for a lot more dollars.

  • avatar
    wjk

    I don’t think I would judge a whole organization based upon the availability to distribute brochures for their (currently unavailable) product. Kia actually doesn’t list a car on their website or even send out brochures to the dealers until they actually become widely available in the showrooms. That way the website truthfully represents what is available. You should expect to see the 2012 Optimas and brochures in the dealers before the end of the month.

  • avatar
    mikeGC

    I am surprised that no review is mentioning the annoying left pull a lot of Optima seem to have. Took the car to the dealer and they did an alignment but it acts the same. If you let go of the steering wheel for a couple seconds you’re on the shoulder. I heard that Sonata had a recall for the same thing, when will Kia issue one?
    Love the look and equipment for the money, but I think quality control is abysmal at Kia.
    My brand new Optima came with missing seat bolts, both driver and passenger seats were bolted down in ONE bolt out of four. I don’t even want to think what might have happened had I been involved in a collision before noticing this. Unacceptable! Think twice about buying a Kia.

    • 0 avatar
      cpurick

      KIA has a TSB for the left pull. Mine has a slight pull sometimes, but I’ve never looked into getting it fixed. Often it doesn’t pull at all. I figure if I have the left pull taken out there’ll just be more times that it pulls to the right.

      I had my interior gutted for soundproofing installation, and the tech did not find anything missing in the assembly.


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  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States