Monthly Archives: November 2015

Video Review: New Kia Optima Arrives, Sleek and Stylish

The New York Times
Nov 18, 2015

Kia has been known for value and a very long warranty, not as much for world-class design. But the Optima could be among the more stylish sedans on the road. By TOM VOELK/DRIVEN on Publish Date November 18, 2015. Photo by Kia Motors America.

BEFORE the Nike Air Jordan, there was the Converse Chuck Taylor — a classic design that stood the test of time. But even the classics evolve. Chucks were recently tweaked to be more cushioned and comfortable.

The Kia Optima may not be a classic, but, like Chuck Taylors, it’s among the most stylish cars, regardless of price. Now, the designers of the sleek new-generation Optima have been careful not to mess with a good thing.

Still, cars must be more than just good-looking. Affordability, comfort, safety, fuel economy and reliability are all important. The departing third-generation Kia was a solid effort, with road noise and the lack of steering feel being its biggest foibles.

A few miles in, the new Optima proves those shortcomings have been addressed. The more mature driving dynamics have risen closer to the expectations set by the svelte exterior lines. Think Air Jordans, not Chuck Taylors. And the Optima is more hushed now.

A cleaner — I’ll argue less emotional — cabin replaces the cockpit vibe of the previous generation. Eyes and fingers will appreciate the materials in the SX model tested, save for the fake molded-in stitching on the instrument panel. Real thread can be had on the highest SX Limited trim level.


Room and comfort are not an issue. In back, three average adults will be fine. Outboard passengers get rump roasters with 12-volt and USB ports for charging phones. There are even side sunshades.

Starting at $22,665, Kia has abandoned the bargain-basement pricing for a bang-for-the-buck approach. As tested, the SX at $33,215 is stuffed with a panoramic glass roof, heated steering wheel, heated and vented front seats and an iPad-like interface. Many of these features are not offered on the Altima, Accord, Camry, Fusion and Mazda 6. Spend more and the Optima can be had with auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and a surround-view camera system.

There are several 4-cylinder engine choices. SX gets the most powerful — a 2-liter turbo making 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque with regular-grade gas. This engine and the 2.4-liter nonturbo motor are bolted to a 6-speed automatic that turns the front wheels. Optima’s 1.6-liter turbo engine gets a 7-speed dual clutch. Drive modes adjust throttle response and steering weight.

It takes about seven seconds to nail 60 miles an hour from a standstill. Turbo lag and torque steer (that tugging of the steering wheel under hard acceleration) are all but eliminated. Optima closes the handling gap on the Accord and Mazda 6. Know that the SX uses a different steering rack setup than lower models.

The SX scores 24 miles a gallon in the city and 35 on the highway, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Go with the 1.6-liter turbo engine and that rises to 28 and 39. I saw 24 in heavy city driving.

Some will grumble that Kia played it too safe with the new Optima’s design. On the other hand, its sister car, the Hyundai Sonata, took a strikingly conservative turn and was criticized for it. Kia kept Optima’s strengths and eliminated the weaknesses. That’s a good-looking strategy for taking on the competition.

Kia BUZZ: “Kia Motors takes fourth consecutive ‘International Car of the Year’ title

Kia BUZZ blog – Nov 20, 2015 | Source: http://kia-buzz.com/kia-motors-2015-icoty/

Road & Travel Magazine (RTM) has once again awarded Kia Motors with the International Car of the Year (ICOTY) award! This year marked the 20th anniversary of RTM’s annual ICOTY awards and our very own 2016 Optima and 2016 Sorento were bestowed with the highest honors.

2016-kia-optima-ICOTY

The 2016 Optima was named International Car of the Year

Each year, the winner is selected by a jury consisting of renowned automobile journalists. This year, the jurors praised the Optimafor its bold design, wide range of impressive technological options and great value. The Sorento garnered acclaim for its premium interior and safety features and powerful all-wheel drive capability.

2016-kia-sorento-ICOTY

The 2016 Sorento was awarded International SUV of the Year

About this outstanding recognition, Michael Sprague, Chief Operating Officer and EVP of Kia Motors America, said, “The Optima and Sorento are two of Kia’s best-selling vehicles and both were instrumental in the transformation of the brand. To win the prestigious ICOTY award four years in a row, with two models winning their categories this year, is a clear indication that our products continue to offer a world-class balance of design, amenities, craftsmanship, safety and value for today’s savvy consumers.”
2015 marks the fourth consecutive year for Kia Motors in being awarded the prestigious title, with the K900 luxury sedan being honored last year and the Cadenza and third generation Optima in 2013. This year, Kia has made history by being the first brand to win four years running.

optima-sorento-ICOTY-award

This accolade demonstrates the progress that Kia has made in raising the bar as an automobile manufacturer. Upholding our customer promise – the Power to Surprise – Kia Motors will use this great recognition as momentum to continue forward in bringing our worldwide fans and supporters extraordinary vehicles with great style, comfort and performance.

2016 Kia Optima First Drive

Vincent Nguyen – Nov 8, 2015 | Source: http://www.slashgear.com/2016-kia-optima-first-drive-08412688/

2016 Kia Optima First Drive

Fourteen years ago, Kia was last on J.D. Power’s quality survey; today, it’s second behind Porsche. That’s a big deal, but what does it have to do with the new 2016 Optima? Turns out, pretty much everything, inside and out. It’s Kia’s best-selling vehicle for the past three consecutive years, not to mention its first model to top the 150,000 yearly sales mark, with demand up 480-percent versus 2010.

new vs old kia optima

So, while there were a few jokes thrown around about whether the new Kia Optima really looks different from the last generation, all kidding aside the subtle changes are for the better. The designers have sensibly avoided change for the sake of change; as former Audi designer Peter Schreyer says of his work at Kia, the watch-words are to keep it clean, simple, and timeless. No need to mess with a formula that’s working, right?

“Moving forward “change is an improvement not just for the sake of change,” Scott McKee, Director of Corporate Communication, Kia

Starting with the exterior, the front “tiger nose” grille and cleaner sheet metal looks great, despite being clearly related to previous generations of Optima. The devil is in the details: the wider grille emphasizes the car’s broader stance, wrapped with HID bi-xenon headlamps. While I didn’t have the opportunity to test these new lights in nighttime driving, they articulate and follow corners – a feature that’s not commonly found in this class of car.

Other nearly-unnoticeable changes include a slight increase in width, height, wheelbase and overall length. Kia tells me that, as a result, the cabin should feel more spacious; to be honest, it’s already roomy as-is, so I could barely tell the difference. I’m not sure if an increase in 0.5 cubic-feet of trunk space will sway a potential buyer one way or another, though it’s still worth mentioning.

It works, too. There’s a stronger horizontal line across the dashboard, lending to the feeling of space but also helping to organize the controls. All of the buttons are now above that line, while anything in the touch zone is below.

2016 Kia Optima 130

While still an affordable four-door sedan, the 2016 Optima feels more luxurious than any of the previous generations, not to mention when compared to competitors in the same segment. There’s new, more premium materials with soft-touch finishes, eye-catching diamond stitch patterns, and small but collectively significant attention to detail that adds up to a car that’s both more stylish but also more functional.

Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will be available when the 2016 Optima goes on sale. Other safety features, meanwhile, include intelligent cruise control with radar tracking of other cars, lane departure warning, and emergency braking.

2016 Optima

The improvements continue where you can’t see them, too. An increased used of high-strength steel means about 50-percent of the body is constructed with the material, up 150-percent on the old car, for better protection in a crash along with improved driving dynamics and a quieter ride.

It means that the best way to feel the difference versus the old Optima is to drive the new model, since the most significant changes can’t be seen with the naked eyes. My more spirited driving through the twists and turns in, around, and outside of Aspen was nothing short of fun, something you don’t necessarily expect from a sedan in this class. Handling proved to be astonishingly good, especially when paired with Kia’s 245 HP, 2.0-liter turbo with 260 lb-ft of torque available with the upper trim levels.

2016 Kia Optima 117

If you’re thinking, hey, that’s about 29 horsepower and 9 lb-ft. torque shy of the last gen-Optima, then you’re absolutely right. However, peak torque now comes at around 1500 rpm, and that’s a good thing because most of our driving is done on surface roads. Trust, me you won’t miss those horses, but you will notice the better fuel economy.

Other engine choices include a 2.4-liter, naturally aspirated 4-cylinder with 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and a new-to-Optima 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, with 178 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, that’s only available on the LX model and paired with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.

2016 Kia Optima 131

My only gripe with the latter option and its slick-shifting gearbox is the lack of paddle shifters. Kia told me that, in order to meet its cost requirements, something had to give and in this case, that meant the paddle shifters were omitted. To be fair, while I missed them, I highly doubt most buyers will care, particularly considering how much they’re already getting from their $23,000 to $35,000 car.

It’s that ambitious pricing, combined with a thoughtful selection of features and solid driving dynamics that single the 2016 Optima out. If Kia’s rapid rise through the satisfaction charts hadn’t already worried Toyota, Honda, and other mainstays of the automotive mass market, this new Optima should give them sleepless nights.