2015 Optima New Car Test Drive
A standout in the crowded midsize sedan segment, the 2014 Kia Optima touts a surprisingly sophisticated design, a smooth, quiet ride and able driving dynamics. It's the best-selling Kia in the U.S.
For 2014, Optima gets a refresh, including redesigned front and rear ends and a new wheel design. Inside, the updated interior includes a redesigned instrument cluster with larger TFT display, a redesigned steering wheel, and additional standard and optional features.
Optima LX and Optima EX models use a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder that makes 192 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. This engine is short on excitement but fine for most drivers. Quiet at highway cruising speeds, it delivers enough power to keep up with fast traffic on the freeways. The 2014 Kia Optima rates an EPA-estimated 23/34 mpg City/Highway. (Note that fuel economy has been adjusted from the 2013 EPA estimates of 25/35 mpg City/Highway.)
The upper-level Optima SX comes standard with the 2.4-liter inline-4, or an optional 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, easily our favorite engine on the 2014 Kia Optima. With 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, it boasts first-rate performance, stability and agility. Silky smooth, the turbocharged engine propels the Optima SX from 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds, on the quicker side of average for the class. Fuel economy suffers compared to the naturally aspirated version, with an EPA rating of 20/31 mpg City/Highway.
A top-of-the-line Optima Limited model includes the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, plus many more included standard features. The SX and Limited models also get a sport-tuned suspension.
Every Kia Optima is front-wheel drive and is equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Interior appointments and materials in all Optima models are handsome, generous, and of high quality for the class. Beautiful leather adorns the dashboard and seating, comfortable with firm support, including the rear. The design and layout of the instrumentation reflect thought and employ the latest technology. The expected conveniences are all there, plus bonuses such as a cooled glove compartment for keeping beverages cool.
Optima uses front-wheel drive and a four-wheel independent suspension that is athletic and responsive. We found the ride quality compliant over rougher pavement, filtering out harshness, while the suspension accurately communicates smaller bumps and ripples. The chassis is good, and although Optima is no performance sedan, its handling has a sporty glimmer.
Competitors to the Kia Optima include well-known midsize sedans such as the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata (the Optima's sister vehicle) and the Toyota Camry. Overall, the gasoline-powered Optima, with its sleek design and plethora of features, makes it one of the stronger choices in its class.
Five trim levels comprise the 2014 Kia Optima sedan: Optima LX, EX and SX models are powered by a 2.4-liter inline-four that makes 192 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Optima SX Turbo Limited models use a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with 274 hp and 269 lb.-ft. of torque.
Optima LX ($21,500) includes cloth upholstery, a 6-way power adjustable seat with power lumbar, manually operated air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, Bluetooth, a six-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio capability, USB port and auxiliary audio jacks, a cooled glove box, 60/40-split folding rear seats, cruise control, fog lights, heated outside mirrors and 16-inch alloy wheels. A Convenience Plus package ($1,400) includes an 8-way power driver's seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror with universal garage door opener and compass, a rearview camera with Kia's UVO telematics system and laminated front door windows (which make for a quieter cabin).
Optima EX ($23,900) includes dual-zone automatic climate control with rear vents, leather upholstery, an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, pushbutton start and auto-dimming rearview mirror with universal garage door opener. Standard wheels are 17-inch alloys. EX Premium Package ($3,150) adds four-way power passenger seat, driver's seat memory, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, an upgraded Infinity audio system with HD radio, UVO telematics and rearview camera, a panoramic roof with gloss black B-pillar and power-folding exterior mirrors. EX Technology Package ($2,000) adds navigation with rear camera display and real-time traffic, blind-spot alert, cross-traffic alert and backup warning system. The Premium Package is also required.
Optima SX ($25,250) adds a sport-tuned suspension plus 4.3-inch TFT LCD instrument cluster, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, metal pedals, unique exterior and interior trim, LED positioning lights and rear tail lamps and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Optima SX Turbo ($27,200) comes with everything found on the Optima SX, but uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine instead, plus a new D-shaped sport steering wheel, selectable drive modes and HID headlights. Optima SX Limited Turbo ($36,300) comes only with the turbocharged engine and includes everything found on the SX plus premium nappa leather upholstery, an upgraded Infinity surround-sound audio system with HD radio, navigation, panoramic sunroof, rearview camera with UVO telematics, blind spot warning, back-up warning, rear cross-traffic alert, LED front fog lights, red brake calipers, rear spoiler and additional unique exterior and interior trim. The steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters are also deleted. Wheels are 18-inch alloys with chrome finish.
Safety features on all Kia Optima models include dual front airbags, front-seat-mounted side airbags, side curtain airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control and hill-start assist. Optional safety equipment includes blind-spot alert, cross-traffic alert and a backup warning system.