2016 Optima New Car Test Drive
The Kia Optima is all-new for the 2016 model year. Road and engine noise have been quelled and the 2016 Optima boasts one of the most refined interiors in the midsize sedan class.
Though improved by nearly any measure, the 2016 Kia Optima is not distinctive in appearance. Its styling has evolved only mildly from the previous generation, so its form seems stuck in the past. While fine-tuning every detail of the sedan, Kia evidently preferred not to risk deviating too much from a car that had achieved impressive success. Underneath, however, the 2016 Optima qualifies as all-new.
Buyers can expect a quiet, nicely composed ride and a compelling value argument.
The 2016 Kia Optima offers a choice of three engines: a new 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder along with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder carried over from the previous model. All are front-wheel drive.
The 2.4-liter engine, available in Optima LX and Optima EX models, produces 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. The 2.0-liter turbo generates 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet. Both engines are slightly reduced in power, but retuned for better drivability for 2016. Each comes with a 6-speed automatic transmission. A powertrain switch has Eco, Normal, and Sport settings.
The 1.6-liter turbo, available for Optima LX, makes 178 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, and comes with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that works like an automatic. Kia claims greater fuel-efficiency and a sportier feel, but we recommend 2.4-liter models for most buyers. Of course, we prefer the most expensive engine, the 2.0-liter turbo, which we found especially strong and smooth.
Optima is among the first models to offer Apple CarPlau and Android Auto. The UVO system now includes Geo-fencing, Curfew Alert, Speed Alert, and Driving Score.
Building upon its superior safety reputation, the Optima has a huskier structure and way more high-strength steel, and may be equipped with new active-safety features.
Optima LX 2.4 ($21,840) comes with the 2.4-liter engine, a rearview camera, air conditioning, six-speaker audio, Bluetooth, and satellite radio compatibility, as well as 16-inch alloy wheels. Optima LX 1.6T ($23,990) upgrades to the dual-clutch automatic transmission and 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
Optima EX 2.4 ($24,890) comes with the 2.4-liter engine, heated front seats, leather upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED taillamps, projector headlights, LED positioning lamps, rapid-charge USB ports, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, woodgrain trim, and an illuminated glove box.
Optima SX 2.0T ($29,690) brings the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, hairline metal and gloss black interior trims, metal pedals, and 18-inch wheels. Optima SXL 2.0T ($35,790) upgrades with Nappa leather upholstery, 12-way driver's and 10-way passenger's power seats, ventilated front seats, 10-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound, advanced cruise control, stitched upper door trim, and active-safety features.
(The Optima Hybrid has been dropped, but it's expected to return as an all-new 2017 model.)
Safety features on all models include seat-mounted airbags, driver's knee airbag, rearview camera. Rear parking sensors, blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert are optional. An option package includes autonomous emergency braking, front collision and lane departure warnings, and surround-view monitor.