2009 Optima New Car Test Drive
Despite a thorough redesign just two years ago the 2009 Kia Optima receives significant updates: updated styling, new features and packaging, more powerful and more economical powertrains, and a new SX version.
The 2009 Optima is three inches longer than its predecessor and, with restyling front and rear, comes across as much sleeker. The new SX model features 17-inch wheels, a recalibrated suspension, blacked-out front trim, aluminum interior trim and leather/cloth upholstery.
Other notable news includes a standard audio system with MP3 capability, iPod and USB inputs and Sirius satellite radio with three-month subscription. Voice-recognition navigation is available.
The front-wheel-drive Optima offers a choice of four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine, each of which ranks near top of its class for fuel efficiency. We like the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder; rated at 175 horsepower, it's among the strongest in the class with and gets an EPA-rated 22/32 City/Highway miles per gallon. The 2.7-liter V6 is smoother and slightly more powerful with 194 hp and earns an EPA-estimated 20/28 mpg.
Optima is less rounded than the average sedan so it has plenty of headroom and a light and airy cabin. The high-volume EX model won't leave you wanting for more features, and every Optima includes six airbags and stability control.
The Optima plays in a contested market that includes the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Mitsubishi Galant, Chevy Malibu, Dodge Avenger, Mazda6, Subaru Legacy, and sister-car Hyundai Sonata. The Subaru has all-wheel drive standard and it's optional on the Fusion and Avenger, while the Camry, Fusion, Altima and Malibu offer hybrid versions.
All the competition offer more powerful V6 engines. However, only the heavier Altima and Accord have a more powerful four-cylinder engine, only the Sonata can match Kia's long standard warranty, only the Altima can match Optima's EPA ratings, and the Optima is the least expensive.
The Kia Optima is offered in three trim levels, LX, EX, and SX. Each comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Optima EX and SX offer an optional 2.7-liter V6 engine ($1005). A five-speed automatic is standard on everything except the LX, which comes with a five-speed manual and offers the automatic.
Optima LX ($17,495) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power windows/locks, power heated signal mirrors, CD/MP3/satellite-ready stereo with auxiliary and USB inputs, tilt steering column, split-folding rear seats and variable intermittent wipers. The five-speed automatic transmission option ($1,455) includes cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with redundant controls, and keyless entry. A convenience package ($550) adds alloy wheels, trip computer and eight-way power driver seat. Floor mats ($95) are extra.
Optima EX ($20,690) and EX V6 ($21,695) come with leather upholstery, automatic climate control, fog lamps, solar glass, auto-dimming mirror with compass and HomeLink, dual illuminated visor mirrors, chrome door handles and trim, keyless entry, tilt/telescoping steering, cruise control, and floor mats. EX options include pearl white paint ($200) and a convenience package ($970) with 17-inch alloy wheels and 215/50R17 tires, four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, power-adjustable pedals, and a manual rear sunshade.
Optima SX ($21,140) and SX V6 ($22,145) is a sportier model that splits the LX and EX grades with a few additions or modifications along with some subtractions: Leather and fabric upholstery, sport suspension, blacked-out headlight trim and grille, aluminum trim, metal pedals, and Supervision gauge cluster are standard. The SX does not include the gas strut hood and trunk of other models, nor a few standards from the EX. An SX convenience package ($800) includes automatic climate control, solar glass, four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, and a manual rear sunshade.
Optional on EX and SX are voice-activated navigation ($1,200), moonroof wind deflector ($70), and a Premium Package ($1,300) with moonroof and Infinity 6CD audio system. Optional on all Optima models are wheel locks ($45), rear spoiler ($325), Bluetooth ($225), cargo tray ($60) and net ($40), splash guards ($80), and remote start ($350).
Safety features include electronic stability control, front-impact airbags, front side-impact airbags, full side-curtain airbags, tire pressure monitors, traction control, and antilock brakes.