2010 Optima New Car Test Drive
There is no more competitive automotive segment than that for midsize sedans, and in that group the Kia Optima is a strong contender for the customer's dollar. It's not the segment leader, or the most powerful, or the best-known. But it offers a combination of an attractive price, commendable fuel efficiency, a spacious interior, stylish appearance, more-than-ample performance, and an outstanding array of standard safety features that few others can match. The Optima stands as a very appealing and logical choice for the sensible consumer looking for a lot of value for the money.
The front-wheel-drive Optima offers a choice of a 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 and gets an EPA-rated 22/32 City/Highway miles per gallon with either the manual or automatic transmission. The 2.7-liter V6 is smoother and slightly more powerful with 194 horsepower and earns an EPA-estimated 20/28 mpg; the V6 comes with an automatic.
The Optima's shape 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 competes with the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Mitsubishi Galant, Chevy Malibu, Dodge Avenger, Mazda6, Subaru Legacy, and Hyundai Sonata.
All the competitors offer more powerful V6 engines. However, only the heavier Altima and Accord have a more powerful four-cylinder engine, only Hyundai matches Kia's warranty, only 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. The Optima EX and SX offer an optional 2.7-liter V6 engine ($1,000). A five-speed automatic is standard on everything except the LX, which has a standard five-speed manual with the automatic optional.
The Optima LX ($17,995) comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, power windows and door 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 ($1,200) includes cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with redundant controls, and keyless entry. A Convenience Package ($750) adds alloy wheels, trip computer, and eight-way power driver seat; it is available only with the automatic transmission. Other options include floor mats ($95) and a rear spoiler ($325).
The Optima EX ($20,995) and EX V6 ($21,995) 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 Premium Package ($2,200), which includes 17-inch alloy wheels and 215/50R17 tires, four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, power-adjustable pedals, a manual rear sunshade, a moonroof, and an Infinity AM/FM/MP3 sound system with a six-disc CD changer.
The Optima SX ($21,795) and SX V6 ($22,795) offer a sportier flair and split 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 the Supervision gauge cluster are standard. The SX does not include the gas strut hood and trunk of other models, nor a few standard items from the EX. The SX is also available with a Premium Package ($2,000).
Optional on the EX and SX are voice-activated navigation ($1,200), and optional on all Optima models are wheel locks ($45), rear spoiler ($325), Bluetooth ($250), cargo tray ($60), cargo net ($40), and splash guards ($80).
Changes for 2010 are minimal. The lower rear bumper is blacked out, and the SX trim-level models have a push-button start.
Safety features front-impact airbags, front side-impact airbags, full side-curtain airbags, tire-pressure monitors, and electronic stability control, which includes traction control and antilock brakes.