By on December 22, 2015

2016 Kia Optima SXL Exterior-012

2016 Kia Optima SXL

2-liter turbocharged, DOHC I-4, direct injection, CVVT, (245 horsepower @ 6,000; 260 lbs-ft @ 1,350-4,500)

Six-speed automatic

22 city/32 highway/25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

25.1 (Observed, MPG)

Base Price: $22,665*

As Tested: $36,615*

* Prices include $825 destination charge.

It’s easy to see why some automakers resist putting premium features in mass market models. All you need to do is look at that luxury showroom to the right. In the quest to differentiate, say, the Ford Fusion from its Lincoln counterpart, or the Toyota Avalon from the Lexus ES, and so forth, manufacturers limit the options and luxuries available on the more pedestrian models.

On the surface, the Optima SXL’s mission could be confused with that of competitors from other non-luxury marques — Accord Touring and Fusion Titanium to name two — but Kia takes its top-trim game a couple steps further. You see, Kia is in a different position as the Optima has no luxury branded sistership and Kia has nothing to lose by creating an Optima trim that could arguably compete with the Acura TLX and Lincoln MKZ.

However, the Optima SXL’s existence does give rise to a very important question: Can a gussied-up family sedan be a value alternative to a near-luxury option, such as the TLX or MKZ? Or is this a case of “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?”

Let’s find out.

You may be surprised to find the 2016 Optima is a nearly complete redesign despite it being only four years old. Why did Kia bother redesigning a model that was selling so well? More importantly, how can Kia afford such a substantial redesign after just four years? Well, first you need to understand the relationship between Hyundai and Kia.

Hyundai bought 51 percent of Kia back in 1998 and — although they have reduced their stake over the years — Kia and Hyundai are closely tied when it comes to research and development.

Thankfully, this isn’t GM-style badge engineering circa 1980.

The process goes like this: A communal team designs the engines, transmissions, hybrid systems, suspension components, safety systems, etc. Then, Hyundai and Kia pull from their respective design bins and craft a vehicle around those same building blocks. This means that while the Optima and Sonata are virtually identical mechanically, almost nothing you see and touch is shared. The extra sales volume using these building blocks has allowed Kia to improve their game at a lightning pace. It would be hard for Mazda or Subaru to justify a complete redesign of their family sedans after only five years on sale. But when you combine Optima and Sonata sales together, they beat Accord year-to-date and come second only to Camry.

2016 Kia Optima SXL Exterior-015

Exterior
Although the 2016 Optima is new, the overall look is not a major departure from its predecessor. Kia’s rationale for evolving and not replacing the design (like Hyundai did with their Sonata) is simple: the old model looked good and sold well.

The new sheetmetal looks more grown up. Kia’s signature “tiger nose” grille has been blended with the headlamps, giving the front a wider appearance. The rear end has been made more expressive with optional LED taillamps and a spoiler.

As seen in most of its competitors, exterior tweaks differentiate the five different trim levels. Moving from the base LX model to the mid-grade EX gets you new headlamps, tail lamps and a different grille. Jumping up to the top-end trim replaces the grille (again), swaps its front and rear bumper covers for those with a sportier look, and adds dual exhaust tips and an aero-look rear lower valance.

2016 Kia Optima SXL Interior-013

Interior
While the exterior isn’t much of a departure from 2015, the interior is.

Gone is the Saab-esque interior design, replaced with a more symmetrical center stack no longer tilted toward the driver. The overall design is fairly upright compared to the sloping dashes we see in some competing vehicles.

As we see in other Kia models, the overall parts quality increases as you climb up the model ladder. But, unlike the others in this segment, major components are also swapped as you move up to the top trims. Instead of just swapping cloth and leather inserts, the SXL uses different dashboard and door components featuring stitched leatherette to imitate the popular stitched leather dashes on luxury cars. The overall effect is more impressive than what’s found in Buick and Lexus models where a standard injection molded part is “after stitched” to give the impression of stitched materials. The SXL also gains nappa leather seating and rear window shades.

2016 Kia Optima SXL Interior-008

Driver’s seat comfort varies by model, but all are notably above average for the segment. Base models get an eight-way seat with two-way adjustable lumbar support — something skipped by many of competition. In an unexpected move, the $24,890 EX model gains a 12-way power seat with four-way lumbar. The passenger seat has a more limited range of motion, but you can option your way into a power passenger seat with two-way lumbar. EX trims and above feature a standard heated steering wheel, a rarity even on $100,000 luxury cars.

Hop in the back and you’ll notice the legroom is generous, but the coupé-like profile comes at the expense of headroom. While the Optima is not as limited as the 200 or Fusion for my six-foot frame, it’s still bested by the Accord and Camry.

Kia up-sized the trunk for 2016 to 15.9 cubic feet, which makes this one of the larger boots in the biz. Pulling a trick out of Nissan’s playbook, Kia allows you to put 24-inch roller bags in the upright position at the edge of the trunk and still close the lid.

IMG_8259

Infotainment
In the ultra-competitive midsize segment, everyone is upping their base model game.

Kia’s starter infotainment system features a 5-inch color LCD, backup camera, six speakers, CD player, iPod interface, Bluetooth and satellite radio standard.

The next step up is Kia’s 8-inch UVO system with eServices and navigation. This infotainment option can be added to EX trims as part of a $3,700 bundle that includes a panoramic roof, power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic detection, rear parking sensors and a dimming rear mirror. New for 2016 is the ability to monitor your teen with geo-fencing, speed alerts and driver scoring. Once you have that option box checked, you can tack on $1,200 for the 630-watt, 10-speaker Harman/Kardon Logic7 audio system, similar to the mid-level system in many BMW models.

2016 Kia Optima SXL Interior UVO Infotainment-001

Kia says that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available soon on models with the 8-inch screen via a software update. However, the only way to get that screen in 2016 is to get the package that also includes navigation, which makes CarPlay a little less impressive.

Our SXL model had yet more luxury gadgets and goodies brought down from the K900, including a 360-degree camera system a la Infiniti, full speed range adaptive radar cruise control, forward collision warning and auto brake hold.

2016 Kia Optima SXL 2.0L Turbo Engine-001

Drivetrain
Powering the LX and EX models is a nearly unchanged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine good for 185 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 178 lbs-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. This puts the Optima on par with the big boys in the segment, but breaks no new ground. Kia has chosen to stick with their tried-and-true six-speed automatic as the only transmission for the base engine.

New for 2016 is a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the new LX 1.6T trim. Thanks to the turbo, the engine cranks out a little less power than the 2.4 (178 horsepower) but more torque across a wider rev range (195 lbs-ft from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm). Sending power to the wheels is a snazzy new 7-speed dual-dry-clutch unit that will soon arrive in the 2017 Sportage.

2016 Kia Optima SXL Exterior-010

SX and SXL trims use Kia’s new 2-liter four-cylinder turbo rated at 245 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 260 lbs-ft from 1,350 to 4,500 rpm. Like the 2.4-liter engine, the 2-liter turbo is solely mated to a six-speed automatic. It’s worth noting that the Optima doesn’t need to run on premium gasoline to achieve its rated power output, unlike the 2-liter Ecoboost engine in the Fusion.

Fuel economy isn’t the Kia’s Forte. (See what I did there?) The popular 2.4-liter engine scored an EPA combined rating of between 28 and 30 mpg depending on trim, and in real-world driving there’s a 4-5 mpg difference between the Optima and the CVT-equipped options in this segment. If you want that kind of fuel economy, you’ll need to get the LX 1.6T. Meanwhile, our SXL model came in at 25 mpg combined, similar to its V-6 competition.

2016 Kia Optima SXL Interior-001

Pricing and Value
The EX model is likely one of the best values in 2016. Period. For $24,890 you get a standard feature list that I thought was an options list at first.

In addition to perforated leather seats, you’ll also get power folding side mirrors, two-zone auto climate control, heated seats, heated steering wheel, LED tail lamps, keyless start, driver’s seat/mirror memory system, projector headlamps, a tweaked grille and auto up/down front windows. That list of features makes the Optima 18-percent less expensive ($3,700) than an Accord EX-L despite the Kia offering an additional $1,000 worth of content. Even the Chrysler 200 and Ford Fusion will be at least $1,500 more when comparably equipped.

But we’re here to talk about the luxury Optimas.

Think of the SX as the “base” luxury trim. It gets much of the same interior and exterior differentiation for $26,690 and you can add options until you get near the SXL’s $35,790 price tag.

The SXL can be thought of as a fully loaded SX with a bit more icing on the cake. This is where you’ll find radar adaptive cruise control, a panoramic roof, rear window shades, nappa leather, ventilated seats, auto brake hold, xenon headlamps that steer, auto high beams, a 360-degree surround view camera, 18-inch wheels, shift paddles, alloy pedals, the snazzy speaker system, and upgraded dashboard and door parts. That puts the Optima SXL on the same footing feature-wise as an Acura TLX V-6 with the Advance Package. The Optima isn’t as fast as the Acura, but it has a longer warranty and is nearly $7,000 less expensive. Adjusting for feature content reveals the TLX and Optima are well matched as each offers equipment not found on the other, so feature content adjustment ends up right at zero.

It’s a similar story when you compare the current Lincoln MKZ with the Optima.

2016 Kia Optima SXL Interior-004

Drive
Helping separate the SX and SXL from the rabble Kia swaps the column-mounted Electronic Power Assisted Steering system for a rack mounted unit more similar to what you see in luxury and near-luxury sedans. The change is more pronounced than you might think. The column-mounted unit can feel over-boosted and slightly lazy, but the SX and SXL have a more Acura-like feel. Neither unit will feel as connected to the road as the Mazda6 — but, electric power steering is a pit where souls go to die.

Also setting the upper trims apart is a revised suspension and wider 235-width tires. This, combined with the relatively light 3,219-3,362 pound curb weight, allows the Optima to hold its own when compared with the Accord Sport, Fusion Titanium and the front-wheel-drive Acura TLX.

2016 Kia Optima SXL Interior Instrument Cluster

Unlike the last Optima that could get upset on corners with broken pavement, the new sedan is almost Germanic in its stability while still delivering a moderately plush ride. I’d be interested to see a sport variant with 245-width summer tires. Thanks to a sound deadening windshield in all models and sound control side glass in EX, SX and SXL, the Optima is one of the quietest sedans on sale today.

Kia’s 2.4-liter engine lags the competition when it comes to fuel economy, but the 2.0-liter turbo is a different animal. I finished the week with an average of 25.2 mpg, coming in at 4 mpg better than we got in the last 2.0-liter Ecoboost Fusion. If you want more fuel economy, the upcoming Optima Hybrid is likely to match the 41 mpg average we recently scored in the 2016 Sonata Hybrid.

2016 Kia Optima SXL Exterior-009

Although Kia’s 2-liter turbo engine is down 29 horsepower vs the last generation engine, you’re unlikely to notice the difference. Our 0-60 test resulted in a sprightly 5.9 second sprint, essentially the same as the last turbo Optima. Where things are different is the way the power is delivered. By swapping in a different turbo, Hyundai/Kia engineers were able to broaden the torque range by 300 rpm and the fall-offs aren’t nearly as abrupt. This means the transmission doesn’t have to hunt through the gears as much in daily or mountain driving.

The Optima came just a few weeks after the 2016 Accord — a good thing for Kia, less so for Honda. The Accord is the sensible orthopedic while the Optima is a trendier cross-trainer. Honda’s focus is obviously on fuel economy and a child-friendly back seat. The Optima has a split mission. The EX is hands down the best value in this segment while the SXL is a novel twist on the family sedan. Kia swaps out enough parts that if you didn’t know the lower trims existed, you’d think the Optima was designed to be a value alternative to the MKZ and TLX. There are a few hard plastics to be found, but the level of “polish” the Optima possess was unexpected. The radar adaptive cruise control system is smoother in operation than that found in the Lincoln MKZ (and miles ahead of Acura), the leather is supple, the interior design is pleasing and CarPlay and Android Auto are entertaining novelties. The Kia is also $6,000 less while delivering a longer warranty. It won’t sell in large numbers, but Kia probably doesn’t care as the Optima SXL was likely millions less to design than the Acura TLX or Lincoln MKZ.

Without luxury marques to worry about, Kia was free to step on the toes of “near luxury” and the result is a more harmonious interior than that found in the Fusion, Accord or Camry. Even though the Optima SXL is $1,000 more than an Accord Touring and $2,000 more than a Camry V-6, the Kia’s interior is worth the difference.

Ponder that statement.

Would you have thought 20 years ago that Kia could make an interior worth $2,000 more than a comparable Toyota?

Perhaps it is possible to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30 mph: 2.4 seconds

0-60 mph: 5.9 seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.2 Seconds @ 98 mph

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89 Comments on “2016 Kia Optima SXL Review – Short Road to the Top (Video)...”


  • avatar

    I’d take a KIA or Sonata over the Acura TLX.

    But for a $37,000 as tested:

    DODGE CHARGER

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    First, this was a thorough review (as always).

    Second, vehicles such as this Optima (or Accord, Camry, Sonata, Fusion, etc.), especially when decently optioned and blown out on subsidized leases and “sales events” pretty much lays waste to the business case for manufacturers own other higher-priced sedans up to the point they are genuinely, substantially, fundamentally different & superior is measurable, meaningful ways (i.e. much larger engine, much better NVH characteristics, MUCH PLUSHER RIDE & SOLID CHASSIS, MUCH more leg, head, shoulder & “spread out” room).

    In other words, as the mainstream daily driver sedans are packed with more features, and as the Avalons, MKZs, RLXs, Lexus ES50s, etc., costing much more than their stable mate (and often platform mate) siblings, lose materially better attributes/advantages of power, refinement, significantly better interior materials, and ROOM, there’s less and less compelling reason for remotely rational people to pay 25% to 35% more for that upscale platform mate.

    The Lexus ES used to much more refined, trimmed, comfortable, hushed, and plush vs a near-equally optioned Camry than ever before (even as the Camry has been cheapened to an exacting price point).

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed.

      A loaded Genesis kills the MKS, XTS And entry German cars

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Except for a 3 year old MKS/XTS is a good used buy and a 3 year old Genesis looks and feels terrible. I have not sat in a used 2nd gen Genesis, but every 1st gen Genesis I tried to buy used was awful.

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          The 2nd gen is as related to the 1st gen as… man, I haven’t even got an analogy. They’re utterly different. I’ve sat in the second gen quite a bit (though not driven) and they’re really, really nice. Comparing a one-generation-old MKS/XTS to a one-generation-old Genesis is wildly unfair; the new-gen Genesis is multiple orders of magnitude ahead of the previous.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I’ve driven a new 2nd gen Genesis and I liked it. I am still not sold on how it feels after 50K miles though. Maybe I need to go look again. I haven’t been sold on any Hyundai/Kia product that has a few years and decent miles on it. They’ve all felt “blah”. As someone who drives at least 35 rental cars a year, Kias/Hyundais tend to get tired the fastest. On the other hand, GM is good at making something that is mediocre to average for all perpetuity.

            I think comparing a generation old Genesis to a generation old MKS is very fair. It’s how I would compare any other car. 2012 Accord vs 2012 Malibu, or whatever. That said, I’m sure the current Genesis is much nicer than the current MKS.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I must be weird because I just can’t get comfortable in the 2nd gen Genesis. It feels restrictive to my knees and shoulders.

            The first gen was fine though.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I was much more comfortable in the Chevy SS, Lincoln MKS, and Cadillac CTS. If I was putting down cash today, I would probably buy the SS. Despite the not great interior, I love how the SS drives. However, like you, I would prefer a civilian Caprice.

          • 0 avatar
            Coopdeville

            Totally agree with bball about the feel after 50k miles. Anecdotally my 6 year old Sonata, while mechanically still VERY reliable at 109k, feels immeasurably worse to drive than the wife’s 8 year old Civic. NVH, suspension clunks, rattles all conspire to make the car feel less reliable than it actually is. But I knew going in why the car was selling for $4k less than the Accord sitting next to it, same year same miles.

            But the overall degradation is the one thing that would make me pause before pulling the trigger on a new one, because lord do I love me some new generation Genesis. Will need to wait til I can drive a ’15 or later with 80k plus miles before I believe though.

    • 0 avatar

      I would say the Camry isn’t a great example on this. It seems as thought Toyota has intentionally kept the Camry’s interior quality and available feature-set low so that there is a place for the ES. This comes, of course, at the a cost against its competition.

      Perhaps a more apt comparison is the Accord vs. TLX. Unless you are coughing up for the SH-AWD (worth it), you get the same platform/engines and a slightly nicer interior.

  • avatar

    The seat heating/ventilation buttons are nicely positioned, but it seems to me that a “heated steering wheel button” should be on the steering wheel. If your car doesn’t come equipped with heated steering wheel- you won’t see a button blank.

    Drive Mode, Auto Hold and ESP belong at the stick’s base.

    After using  CarPlay on the 2016 Malibu and Volt I can tell that those features will make any buyer thoroughly satisfied with their purchase.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    They took what was once the best looking front end in the mid-sized car category and ruined it by making it look like a Camry.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Wouldn’t say it looks like a Camry, but the sheetmetal definitely took a step backwards whereas the interior/dash (and most other things) took a step forwards.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Two things really bother me about the interior, albeit both niggling. One is, given the level of loaded features such as a heated steering wheel, one would think rain sensitive wipers would be standard as well. The second is most aggregious. That circa mid-90s GM automatic shifter really cheeses up what could be a most impressive throne experience. I also loathe those awful wheels which do nothing to highlight what are indeed gorgeous lines, but instead detract from it. But that’s an aftermarket or dealer fix.

    • 0 avatar
      stodge

      I agree, the new front end reminds me of the Camry.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    My brain wants the SX”L” to be a long wheelbase model…

    As the Koreans figure out suspension tuning there will be little to stop their world domination. Until the Chinese takeover

  • avatar
    tedward

    Is this a case of the Korean twins going above the segment in a permanent way or just doing what they did the last time? Namely, rolling out their mid-sizers well after the segment champ accord and its hanger-ons and therefore enjoying the most up to date supplier pricing in the segment for the moment? There’s no free lunches right? This happens in every segment from time to time and we watch all the follow up models immediately come to parity when their redesign schedule hits. Where I’ll be impressed is when the Koreans start challenging for best in class even when their models are stale (think accord and golf.)

    That sounded negative but it is clearly a nice car. I like the dash differentiation and steering rack changes (they probably are only using the last one bc they are committed to buying a certain number, but that was the primary problem with the old car to me.) What we’re really seeing here is the minivan effect, a shrinking segment that accepts lower margins and is squeezing out the near premiums as a result. Also these mid sizers are officially land yachts for older wealthier people now that families are buying c segment cars and cuv’s.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I don’t see the Camry/Accord catching up to this as far as design goes, which IMO is its main trump card. Not sure this is a truly shrinking segment either- these cars are as big as cars like the Avalon and the like used to be, and “C-segment” cars now occupy the sedan sweet spot. From that point of view there is hella hella hella value in the sedan segment…. for the same unadjusted dollars, a today’s Civic is the modern version of the mid 90s Accord, not the little tin box Civic of that time. For inflation adjusted dollars, old Accord money essentially gets you an Acura Legend with Honda Accord badges. Cars have never delivered more for the $$$.

  • avatar
    Dan

    A $35,000 car that looks like a $20,000 car and holds its value like a Kia. Intellichoice puts five year depreciation at $4,000 over a loaded and similarly priced Accord.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I like the look of that interior, although I could do with a much smaller bezel around the display.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    This is the 3rd Optima review I’ve read, but only the 1st positive one. Interesting how writers have a love/hate relationship with a vehicle.

  • avatar
    Fred

    It’s been awhile that I drove a Optima (2014) but I did not like it’s harsh handling feel. So maybe they have fixed that?

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I test drove a ’15 Optima SX Turbo, and was reasonably impressed – but not impressed enough to buy it. It felt a little bit disconcerted on rough pavement; a little bit not-as-put-together as the Fusion and Sonata. I ended up with a Sonata, not as well optioned and not as quick, but more solid. Based on my understanding of the platforms and review results, this Optima should fix the sloppiness I felt in the earlier version, and it’s definitely going to be on my list – especially at the top trim level.

    But: At $35k, you’re getting solidly into CPO A6 territory. Maybe even A7 territory, with a little bit of stretching. And of course the TCO is going to be higher on those cars… but as much as I like the Optima, it ain’t no A7. So I may find myself tempted to make a very poor decision, because no matter how much I like this Optima, I don’t *like it* like it, you know?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Even a CPO A6, much less an A7, is not going to be near the $35k price-point with all the tech the SX-L trim offers (and besides, more likely going to pay around $31.5-32K for the SX-L).

      And that argument has always been lame – as can make the same argument for any make or model as a CPO.

      A CPO SX-L down the road will be even more of a bargain compared to a CPO A6.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    Looks liked they fixed the red caliper issue where before only the caliper itself was painted but the bracket was still painted silver—yea that looked bad.

    Disappointed that they didn’t bring the auto-park feature, LED fog lamps, and sliding cup holder cover over from Korea.

    No word yet if they’re really going to do the wagon or not.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    I think the story here is that the 2.0L turbo is somehow now competitive with the V6 offerings.

    I am wondering why the Sonata, with the same 2.0L turbo, performed so terribly in almost every publication’s measured tests.

    Publications were getting 0-60 times of 8 seconds, and now the Kia version does it in 5.9 seconds? What am I missing?

    Anyway, I like it. Looks really nice.

    • 0 avatar
      Davekaybsc

      As far as I can tell, those early test cars were either pre-production, or very early samples that had problems with the turbos – heatsoak or some other issue. There was no logical reason for the 2.0 Sonata to be SLOWER than the 1.6 Eco version, as was reported here and elsewhere. There was something wrong with those cars.

      Now the Fusion 2.0 on the other hand, that car really IS that slow. And thirsty. Ecoboost – 4cyl speed, 6cyl fuel economy. Woohoo!

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Davekaybsc,
        The 2 litre EcoBoost isn’t the only thirsty EcoBoost. It must be some basic design of the EcoBoost engine or software that makes them perform like they are dehydrated.

        Or, Ford is not updating the EcoBoost. But then look at the 2.7 EcoThirst in the aluminum F-150. Ward’s didn’t select them as one of their best engines due to the EcoBoost’s longing for gasoline in copious quantities.

        Ford need to put the EcoBoost engines back on the bench and start to resolve their high fuel usage. They are powerful(ish), but not a class leading engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      Performance numbers have been all over the place for this engine, with this review being the best so far. This leads me to believe that it it very sensitive to heat. Great numbers in the winter. Poor numbers in the summer. Living in Arizona, I’ll take a pass on all these Turbo cars.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        I think you might be onto something. I saw Car and Driver tested this same car and were about a second slower 0-60. Car and Driver usually gets some of the quickest test times.

        Very inconsistent #s for this engine. Weird.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “I am wondering why the Sonata, with the same 2.0L turbo, performed so terribly in almost every publication’s measured tests.

      Publications were getting 0-60 times of 8 seconds”

      Something was definitely hosed with those cars (perhaps literally). My Sonata has the rather anemic 2.4 and it can hit 60 in the 8s no problem.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        Also, yeah, the base Fusion is bad. I liked the car itself, but the engine was constantly forced to drop gears just to drag the thing around town; it basically put the Fusion out of the running since no dealers had the uprated engine in a non-loaded-to-the-gills car. The Sonata’s base mill only makes another 10hp but it’s attached to a couple hundred pounds less car and the transmission is programmed perfectly, so it’s tolerable where the base Fusion was obnoxious enough to put off my wife, who repeatedly claims not to care about these sorts of things.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Motor Trend only got 7.3 seconds from the same exact tester as in this review and 7.2 from the previous body style so 5.9 seconds sounds a bit out there. I have driven numerous 2.0 liter turbos in these cars and they never timed out any quicker than 6.6-6.8 seconds and those were the 274 HP versions so I fail to see how the just as heavy 245 HP version of this motor can be this quick.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “3,219-3,362 pound curb weight”

    That is quite light for a modern mid-size sedan! Mine is 1,000 lbs. heavier, and doesn’t have all the equipment offered here.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      It’s also less than my tub-o C-Max.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Car and Driver tested this car. It actually weighs 3584 lbs. Far as I know C/D are the only outfit that weighs its test cars. The result’s not surprising, because the Sonata Turbo weighs 3600. What’s a bit of exaggeration here and there? H/K always seems to be up for an “oops sorry!” retraction if anyone actually notices, and if not, well the specs look good on paper.

      C/D got 6.8 to 60 and a 15.2 quarter. Alex’s car seems to been imbued by a certain extra “dash”. “We don’t do things like that,” said Moo GungHo Park, press fleet manager, while gazing out the window.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I really don’t like the H/K “generally it’s this” thing they have going on. Fuel economy, 0-60, weight, it’s all up for generalization.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Looks like Motortrend is weighing their test cars as well, theirs scaled at a very similar 3575lbs. Alex made a mistake quoting the 3,219-3,362 curb weight; Kia’s website gives those exact numbers for the LX and EX trims. Two columns over are the 3494-3594 curb weights for the SX and SXL trims.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      C&D and Motor Trend have the curb weight pegged at 3575

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    After the very ugly ’90s/Saab look of the interior of the last car (good call on that Alex, I didn’t see it until you pointed that out) the interior of the new Optima is a big improvement, certainly much more so than the blocky, awkward looking Sonata. Except for the upper dash. That fat black slab just doesn’t work, the bezel area around the screen is HUMONGOUS, and the awkward looking chrome trim only serves to make the bezel look even larger.

    No car in this class has that great of an interior, but from a pure design standpoint, the Mazda6 is the clear winner. The Optima most likely beats it on materials quality, but the Mazda is certainly better looking at least, inside and out.

    Camry interiors have been total junk for years, and trying to make room for an “upscale” TL/TLX forces Honda to keep the Accord from getting too nice inside. That being said, the ILX interior is maybe 2% better than the new Civic, so maybe they don’t care as much about that anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “the bezel area around the screen is HUMONGOUS”

      One presumes that a refresh is going to stick a Mercedes-style uber-wide-screen in that hole. But yeah, it looks terrible right now.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    I’m first and foremost surprised how beautiful it looks. It resembles a Passat up front, a Mazda 6 from behind, an Audi inside – but it’s still something on its own. Very balanced.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The Hyundai/Kia 2.0 Turbo continues to mystify and astound. Three separate publications clocked the Sonata with this engine to 60 in 8 seconds. Motortrend just recorded a 7.3 in the Optima. And now Alex recorded a 5.9. What is going on with this engine?

    I thought the dashboard of the 2013 Mazda6 was one of its few weak attributes, but Kia seems to disagree.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Our 13 Optima Hybrid continues to serve us well, with outstanding fuel economy and easy ownership. It was a bargain at $20k.

    My only complaints are uncomfortable seats on long trips, and this first-gen hybrid doesn’t always believe you’re serious about the throttle input. And oddly, the front end is a bug magnet in the summer, which really marks up the white paint.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      “And oddly, the front end is a bug magnet in the summer…”
      It is probably not. You just [most likely] driving at night a lot. Bugs fly into light and you get them on your car

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Looking forward to your review of the next Sportage Alex. Any idea when they are coming in?

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Don’t lose your focus, people. The backseat comfort is pretty bad in this car. At least in non-leather version. There is plenty of legroom and unless you’re 7-footer, you’re not likely to rub your knees on the plastic front seat backing. But the seat itself is way too firm. In fact, just sit there for 5 minutes and you will see. For the occasional middle section rider (they classify this car as 5 passenger after all) life will be horror for the duration of the ride because middle section will make their back feel every bump as a stick punishment. This is a big contrast vs front seat, which is softer and pretty comforting while also providing good support during ride.

    Ha! I didn’t realize that the one I drove could of have 1.6 turbo. But since there was no lag I assume it was 2.4L. I didn’t like it. It didn’t even sound right.

    This car gives solid driving experience but comes short in few areas, like cheap-operating door handles. Ok, one can live with that but back seat is total fiasco.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I recall when the original Optima was released, I had a close look at it and I thought, the Koreans have come a long way since Alan Bond started importing Hyundai into Australia in the mid 80s.

    This Kia really looks the goods and I do like the fact the high end modeel isn’t some rebadged vehicle, it’s still a Optima.

    I also noted the Kia turbo engine is more efficient than the EcoBoost, hmmmm…….. this is on regular gas as well! Maybe Ford need to find some engineer to help them out with their EcoBoosts.

    Nice vehicle and good article.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Ford needs to spend money on updating their four cylinder EcoBoost engines from the Sigma and MZR bones. Gonna be thirsty if based on thirsty engines. It isn’t lack of engineering prowess, it’s being cheap.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I saw the youtube video review. I’m not a fan of the new front end grill and headlamp styling, but the rest of the car is a knock-out. I am very impressed what your dollar gets you from kia these days.

    Having said that, these cars in upper trim levels encroach on the lower trim levels of the genesis, which I would take in a heartbeat over an optima–if I were going Korean.

  • avatar
    daviel

    How about the K900 and the Cadenza? http://www.kia.com/us/en/home

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Kia Cadenza is a nice car that suffers every time the Optima improves.

    The Optima outsells the Cadenza about 20:1, but you get the Cadenza if you want a V6.

  • avatar
    kit4

    A dashboard doesn’t make it worth $2000 more than a Camry or Accord to 99.9999% of shoppers, especially since both of those can be had with a V6 better than the turbo 4 and will also be worth more at resale than a Kia.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    The Sephia casts a long, long shadow…and even recent Kias I’ve sat in have made me high.

    Pass!

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Damn, looks like a nice car. If only it wasn’t a Kia. I’ll bet that interior with all the new leather smells REALLY good.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    That engine cover drives me nuts. Subtle hints at being a v6? In your dreams Optima, you will never have a buttery smooth six cylinder ever again!

  • avatar
    Acd

    Sounds like a great used car buy in a few years.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I took a friend car shopping on Black Friday to replace her 15 year old Infiniti. After 14 test drives of many entry level luxury cars $40-45k including MB, Acura, Lexus and Audi, she went with the Sonata Hybrid. The interior and features were bar none heads and shoulders above the others. That she landed the deal for $31,000 was only an added bonus. As you can see, she keeps her cars forever so value of the vehicle in 15 years has no relevance.

    The style of the exterior and top-notch materials inside were excellent, especially for the price point.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    Much preferred the exterior design of the previous version, just like the Sonata. Peter Schreyer is too talented to have this be JUST his work – somebody must have said – “add useless filigrees and elements to the design to liven it up a bit” which is sorta like telling Winslow Homer to put more “STUFF” into his paintings – misses the point completely.

    That said, the interior looks good, and the drive sounds like it’s now fully class-competitive. The features availability is off the charts for a car in this class, which is impressive. I’d say “well done!” overall.

    ‘Course, the new Malibu (don’t laugh) looks pretty impressive, too – it’s a good time to be a midsize/mainstream sedan buyer!

  • avatar
    stodge

    I took the SX for a quick test drive. It was a nice car but I didn’t drive it enough to learn how well it coped with crappy Ontario roads. I thought the turbo was decent; the power was there without delay and it was usable. To be honest, I’m not bothered if it doesn’t do 0-60 in 4s or if it’s a touch slower to 60 than the previous engine. For me it’s about the mid range acceleration and how quick it is to kick in and how usable it is in real world driving.

    I much prefer the exterior of previous models. The front end of this one rinds me too much of a 2012 Camry; they’ve gone too boring and generic. I preferred the edgy design of the older ones.

    Still the interior was nice. It seemed solid and the design is decent though I liked the fact the older ones had the centre dash titled towards the driver. The EX spec is impressive.

    Like others I’m interested in seeing how it holds up over several years of driving. I never got the impression that older Kia products would hold up but with this one, time will tell.

    If the Optima is now an excellent car, where does that leave the Cadenza?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Older” is a relative term, of course, but our 09 Sedona has held up quite well over 86k miles. I bought it in 2010; it was a former rental with 18k miles.

      We’ve used it for all manner of towing and family hauling.

      The only serious fault we’ve had was a failed throttle position sensor at 62k miles. Under Kia’s used car warranty, they wouldn’t cover it. :( :(

      As I noted above, we also have a 13 Optima Hybrid; with 30k miles it’s been trouble-free.

  • avatar
    never_follow

    That 6 banger engine cover on a 4 pot though. So wrong, because only those who know will care and those who care will know.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    I’ve read 4 reviews on this vehicle and two hate it, one is neutral, and this one loves it. Interesting the variance of opinions by automotive journalists.


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