By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
Even though the 2016 Kia Optima is a whole new rendition of Kia?s best-selling nameplate it doesn?t look a lot different at first glance. It?s more a product of the ?don?t screw up something that?s working well? school of design and engineering.
While the Kia development staff may not have messed with success, they did make it more sophisticated, dynamic and better overall.?Even though the basic elements are unchanged it offers an enhanced level of sophistication and elegance. Kia design has been shepherded by Kia?s president and chief design officer, Peter Schreyer, who was formerly responsible for many of the great Audi designs.
The new Optima interior was inspired by Kia?s top line luxury sedans, the K900 and Cadenza. Soft touch materials with genuine stitching decorate the surfaces of the driver-oriented interior spaces. Seats are strung on a stiffer seat frame with soft foam in the headrest and upper back, and with more supportive foam in the thigh-support along with deeper side bolsters. The pleated Nappa leather seating looked like something in a high-end luxury sedan.
Designers improved the control placement, by using fewer buttons, but without burying commands under deep menus. Five trim levels make up the Optima family: LX 2.4, LX 1.6T, EX 2.4, SX 2.0T and SXL 2.0T. The numbers after the model designation represent the engine that model uses.
The standard engine in the LX and EX models is a naturally aspirated 185-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and is attached to a smooth-shifting six-speed manual transmission. The two other engines are turbocharged four-cylinders. The higher fuel efficiency model LX 1.6T is powered by a new 178-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels through a seven-speed double clutch transmission. The standard engine in the upper level SX and SXL is a very quick 245-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters. The 2.0T accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, which makes it a dash slower than some of the V-6-powered competitors.
The EPA rates the fuel sipping 1.6T engine at 28 mpg city, 39 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. The 2.4-liter has a 25/37/30 mpg rating and the 2.0T is 22/32/26 mpg.
No new car is complete without the latest and greatest technologies, and the Kia Optima has its share with features like the UVO connectivity system including new features including Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score, all which are good ways for a parent to monitor the driving activities of their teen drivers.
The system also allows access to Internet functions through the new Android Auto? and Apple CarPlay?. These systems enhance the Optima?s connectivity for entertainment, communications and information by displaying your smartphone?s most important features on the Kia?s eight-inch touchscreen. The screen also displays navigation functions and acts as the screen for the rear view monitor. Audiophiles will appreciate the brilliant Harman/Kardon QuantrumLogic?7 Premium Surround Sound System.
When it comes to the latest and greatest hi-tech safety equipment the 2016 Kia Optima has nearly everything available. The list includes a rearview camera, 360-degree Surround-View Monitor, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Parking Assist System, Front Collision Warning System, Lane Departure Warning System and Autonomous Emergency Braking. Other available features include Bi-Xenon HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Lamps and intuitive High Beam Assist (HBA).
The 2016 Kia Optima pricing starts at $22,665, including the destination charge, for the LX with 2.4-liter engine. The top of the line SX Limited (SXL) is priced at $36,615 and includes all the available features.
Our 2016 SXL car tested well reflecting the new level of refinement. It handles beautifully, offers a relatively quiet cabin, comfortable seating, along with good acceleration. The steering felt a little bit light, but not enough to distract from the car?s agility. Over all it has the feeling of being a more expensive car than the MSRP indicates.
The previous generation Optima was one our favorites in the mid-size category and was a solid contender in our ?what we would buy if we had to buy a new car today? list. And like all Kias, the Optima still has the best warranty in the business which includes a 10 year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, five year/60,000-mile basic warranty and roadside assistance plans.
To learn more about the 2016 Kia Optima, go to your local Kia dealership or on the Internet to http://www.kia.com/us/en/vehicle/optima/2016.