Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 2.0L I4
Power:
274 HP / 269 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,385 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
15.4 CU-FT
MPG:
22 City / 34 HWY
Despite the fact that it just went on sale, I've been seeing the 2013 Ford Fusion on the road for quite some time now. I live less than 10 miles from Ford's world headquarters, and thus, seeing prototypes and pre-production cars on the street isn't an uncommon occurrence.

It's pretty, the new Fusion. But while some folks are quick to say that the Ford sedan is the best-looking car in the class, I'm not so sure. Upon returning from the Paris Motor Show a few weeks ago, I found this 2013 Kia Optima SX Limited waiting for me at the airport, and eager as I was to get home, I couldn't help but stop and give the svelte Korean a good once-over. It's not brand-new like the Fusion, but the Optima still stops me in my tracks every time I see one.

That said, the Kia's positive points extend far beyond its good looks. There's a potent turbocharged engine under that rakish hood, and for the 2013 model year, this special SX Limited trim is all new, incorporating a few extra blingy elements that give it even more of a stylish punch.

Driving Notes
  • I have yet to spend adequate time with the 2013 Fusion and its 2.0-liter EcoBoost four, so ruling that engine out for now, the 2.0-liter unit in this Optima is easily my favorite engine in the midsize class. Having 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque on tap is great in a car this size, and...
  • The way the power is delivered is really this car's strong suit. There's a small amount of turbo lag right off the line, but from there, power delivery is smooth and linear. The six-speed automatic transmission is perfectly matched to deliver maximum power without having to mash the pedal, and the whole experience is truly rewarding.
  • If you really hammer the throttle, there's some noticeable torque steer off the line. But even when that's settled down, the electronic power steering isn't anything to rave about in this car. It's better than other Korean offerings, but it still feels artificial most of the time.
  • All of the updates for the SX Limited (except for an electronic parking brake) are purely cosmetic. Unique features include the 18-inch polished chrome-ish alloys you see here (with red brake calipers nestled behind them) along with attractive LED running lamp strips just above the foglights.
  • A word about those wheels: they're nice, but what's wrong with the stylish 18-inchers of the standard Optima Turbo? The sort of inverted spoke design is really pretty – some of my favorite wheels in the class.
  • Inside, Limited models get higher-grade Nappa leather upholstery, nicer black cloth on the headliner and pillars and unique woodgrain accents. The two-tone white-over-black color scheme of my test car looked great.
  • Overall, the Optima continues to have one of my favorite interiors in the class. It's comfortable and well appointed, and I absolutely love the driver-facing center console with simple, well-organized controls.
  • Thing is, though, this SX Limited test car carries a sticker price of $35,275, including $775 for destination. That represents a $3,350 increase over a fully loaded SX – a good deal of money to pay for some nicer leather, different (read: not necessarily prettier) wheels and LEDs. I do like this Optima SX Limited, but honestly, I'd feel the same way about a cheaper SX with the same turbocharged engine.
  • The 2.0L-equipped Fusion will likely prove to be this Optima's stiffest competition in terms of style, content and dynamics. And while it's certainly a formidable opponent, the Optima Turbo – Limited or not – is indeed worth another look.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 108 Comments
      hellyenmtp
      • 2 Years Ago
      Anybody pays 36k for this KIA is a sucker straight up...LOL !!!!
      Yang Xi Gua
      • 2 Years Ago
      You can get a 278 hp Accord that gets 21 city 34 highway that looks better and costs less.
        Yang Xi Gua
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Yang Xi Gua
        also no turbo lag
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Yang Xi Gua
        [blocked]
        futuramautoblog
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Yang Xi Gua
        Looks better? While looks are subjective, you gotta get your eyes checked out!
        telm12345
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Yang Xi Gua
        I'm sorry, but totally agree with futuramautoblog. Usually I think you can't argue with taste, but the Accord...sorry. You sound like someone who just loves Honda. That's fine, but you cannot tell me the Accord looks better.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        S40Powered
        • 2 Years Ago
        So true. It's like they're trying to get all luxury and trendy. It's laughable. There's still a long way Kia.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @S40Powered
          [blocked]
      futuramautoblog
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hands down, still one of the best, if not the best, looking sedan south of $35k excluding any premium brands. Every time I see one on the road (quite a lot in LA) I go 'Dammmmm...that looks good!' However, the dish wheels on standard SX are so much better than that chrome crap!!!! Seriously, who's dumbest idea in Kia's US marketing was that one? YUK!
      Karl T
      • 2 Years Ago
      I thought I was interested in the SX until I started hearing and reading reviews. Merely adequate brakes - vague steering - too soft handling. Doesn't look like this car does anything about those shortcomings. And I wouldn't pay $36k for one no matter what.
        th0mb0ne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Karl T
        That's kind of the deal with all Kias.... they look great, but it's like driving a tub of butter. Hyundai to me is pretty much the same....but without the benefit of the better styling.
        Mario
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Karl T
        Have you tested/drove SX yourself?
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mario
          [blocked]
      Yang Xi Gua
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't know why, but Camry and Accord kill Optima in sales. Only 14,304 Optimas were sold last month. Ouch.
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Regal is even more better looking. Though it is not a direct competitor of course.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Avinash Machado
        [blocked]
      zoom_zoom_zoom
      • 2 Years Ago
      Over $35K for a KIA. LOL. And 1980 called, they want their chrome wheels.
      markventure69
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm not sure most of the posters on here are seeing the same cars as I am. I tested everything under the sun and the Optima is as nice or nicer than almost anything I drove. If you want to see "cheap plastics" go test drive a VW Jetta or Toyota Camry. The Sonata does have an materials edge but falls behind the Optima in features. Everyone seems to have their own beef to pick but I'd like to know how many are based in reality. I do agree the Limited version is a bit rich for not much feature content. They should have put larger and more expensive looking wheels on it especially. The normal SX is the best bet in my book. And yes a V6 Accord or Altima may seem nice too but are getting a bit "old fashioned" compare to the new crop of blown fours IMO.
      sckid213
      • 2 Years Ago
      Whether it's their strategy or not, Kia is stepping into the role that Pontiac held: overstyled, underperforming cars that give off a "mainstream sporty" image for posers and/or women. And like Pontiacs, the highest-trim, most blinged-out version looks the worst.
      Patrick
      • 2 Years Ago
      I witnessed one of these pass someone on a country road. But when they stomped on it you could see the hint of smoke come from underneath the vehicle. Is that standard or an option you have to check?
      Rochester
      • 2 Years Ago
      Unimpressive little 2-piston calipers without covers... and somehow it's a good idea to paint them red so that they're noticed? I don't get that. "Hey! Look at my crappy brakes!" Otherwise, I love the design of the current model Optima. And as much as I hate the tacky Autozone trend of LED running lights, these are really nicely integrated in the car.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rochester
        [blocked]
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