Category Archives: Optima Articles

2021 Kia K5 Rolls Out a New Name for the Optima

Don’t get hung up by the new nameplate on the redesigned 2021 Kia K5. This is very much the shapely mid-size sedan formally known as the Kia Optima. We’re a little sad to see a perfectly good vehicle name fall to alphanumeric nonsense, but the Optima has been known as the K5 in the Korean market for more than a decade. The badge on the trunklid takes nothing away from its family sedan goodness. Like its predecessor, it upholds Kia’s increasingly impressive ability to balance upscale execution, design, and value.

At the center of the Optima-to-K5 metamorphosis is the latter’s adoption of the Hyundai-Kia conglomerate’s latest N3 platform, which also underpins the similarly fresh 2020 Hyundai Sonata. We had a brief drive of the new K5 last year around Kia’s home market of South Korea. Compared to the outgoing Optima, the new sedan is 2.0 inches longer, 1.0 inch wider, and 0.8 inch lower. Its 112.2-inch wheelbase also is up 1.8 inches, with that growth primarily going to expanding rear-seat space. Even with the K5’s sloping roofline, six-footers can easily sit behind six-footers.

The Optima was always a looker, and the K5 arguably is even more so with its strong character lines, balanced proportions, and intricate detailing. We’ll leave it to you to decide if the K5’s sharper lines, zigzag LED running lights, and “sharkskin-inspired” grille treatment work better than the Sonata’s demurer look, but there’s no denying this Kia pushes style and design further than what’s expected of the segment.

Driving the Change

Things are comparably tame under the K5’s hood, although the GT model will address that when it arrives later this year with a 290-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four and an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The front-wheel-drive GT-Line and EX models that we drove in Michigan featured the standard 1.6-liter turbo-four—180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque—mated to a conventional, smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic. In our testing of a similar 2020 Sonata, this setup was good for a zero-to-60-mph run in 7.3 seconds. That car also returned 36 mpg on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, although some competitors such as the Toyota Camry can top 40 mpg in that measure. For the K5, its EPA estimates top out at 29 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 32 mpg combined.

The K5 breaks from the front-drive-only Sonata by offering all-wheel drive. That system will be available later this year as an option only on the volume LXS and GT-Line trim levels. The upgrade won’t come cheap, though. Bundled with a host of otherwise optional equipment, all-wheel drive will add $2100 to the price of the LXS and $3700 to the GT-Line.

Kia says the K5 was tuned separately from the Sonata, yet both share a similar characteristics on the road. The K5’s steering is precise but numb in feel, there’s an initial softness to its brake pedal that firms up when you stand on it, and it goes around corners with reassuring competence and stability. The relatively soft suspension returns good overall ride comfort and moderate body roll in corners, but we would like more insulation from the road. Both of the cars we drove rolled on 18-inch Pirelli P Zero All-Season tires (16s are standard on lesser trims) that provided reasonable levels of grip. Yet, despite a standard acoustically laminated windshield and increased sound-deadening material, road noise is prominent on most surfaces and the big wheels thwack loudly over bumps and pavement seams.

The K5’s 1.6-liter is content with being worked lightly, doling out its peak torque at just 1500 rpm with a subdued thrum. Sport mode energizes things a touch by prompting the eight-speed to hold on to lower gears longer and pumping slightly more engine noise into the interior through the stereo speakers. It also firms up the steering effort a little, albeit with no change to its tactility. But only the K5’s GT model gets paddle shifters, and the standard transmission will upshift on its own well before the engine’s 6500-rpm redline, even with the shift lever slotted into its manual mode.

Interior Evolution

Kia has significantly upped the Optima’s interior game with excellent fit and finish and a thoughtful sprinkling of not-too-shiny bits. The K5 succeeds in incorporating various styling elements from both Kia’s sportier Stinger hatchback and the Telluride SUV, along with exemplary functionality and ease of use. GT-Line models can be optioned with jazzy red leatherette upholstery with GT-Line logos emblazoned on the front headrests, but we preferred the cooler ambiance of the more luxurious EX model with its greater feature count and its convincing fake-wood detailing. While we would’ve liked to lower the front seats even more in their tracks, the K5’s thrones don’t feel perched as excessively high as the latest Sonata’s.

There are some budget-minded elements to be found, including hard plastics on the door panels, center console, and lower dash. EX models add more soft-touch points and a few niceties that we wish were standard across the range, such as rear climate-control vents. But all K5s come with dual-zone automatic climate control, a crisp (albeit small) 4.2-inch instrument cluster display, and an 8.0-inch center touchscreen. A 10.3-inch touchscreen is optional. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity are standard, but strangely, you’ll have to use a power cord to sync with the larger 10.3-inch touchscreen. Kia says it may address that discrepancy with wireless connectivity in a future technical update. Other tech highlights include an optional 12-speaker Bose stereo and wireless device charging.

Even the K5’s competitively priced $24,455 LX base model comes with loads of standard safety gear and driver aids, including forward-collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, a driver-attention monitor, and lane-keeping assist. Moving up through the lineup unlocks additional assistants, such as navigation-supported adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, rear cross-traffic detection, and blind-spot monitoring. Fully loaded, the front-drive Kia K5 GT-Line costs about $28K, while the more indulgent EX tops out around $32K. That’s slightly less than a new Sonata Limited yet a bit more than you’ll pay for a similarly equipped Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.

The new Kia K5 may not be as engaging to drive as the Accord, which remains our top pick in the segment. And had it been around for our most recent comparison test of family sedans, it probably wouldn’t have improved upon the Sonata’s second-place finish. To be sure, we will let the Kia and the Honda duke it out soon enough. But what the K5 does offer is an impressively styled and smartly executed package that’s studded with features and technology. Optima still has a better ring to it than K5, but Kia’s redesigned mid-sizer is good enough that we don’t really care what it’s called.



2021 Kia K5


front-engine, front- or all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan


LX, $24,455; LXS, $25,455; GT-Line, $26,355; EX, $28,955; GT, $31,455


turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 1.6-liter inline-4, 180 hp, 195 lb-ft; turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 2.5-liter inline-4, 290 hp, 311 lb-ft


8-speed dual-clutch automatic, 8-speed automatic


Wheelbase: 112.2 in
Length: 193.1 in
Width: 73.2 in
Height: 56.9 in
Passenger volume: 102–105 ft3
Trunk volume: 16 ft3
Curb weight (C/D est): 3100–3400 lb


60 mph: 5.2–7.4 sec
100 mph: 17.8–20.1 sec
1/4 mile: 13.5–15.7 sec
Top speed: 135 mph


Combined/city/highway: 29–32/26–29/35–38 mpg

Review: 2016 Kia Optima is retooled and punches above its price-point

Source : The Globe and Mail – August 01, 2016

The recently-launched second-generation Kia Optima is a clean-sheet re-do of the original that advances on all fronts to, once again, take a place as a convincing choice in a highly-attainable, high-style family sedan.

Daring sculpts, big dual exhausts, bold lines, and Kia’s signature tiger-nose grille, flanked by bi-xenon headlamps, help set the Optima apart. The body is rich with detail, including numerous touches that could do double-duty in a pricier ride.

It’s a similar story on board. Occupants are surrounded by stitching, quilted leather, modern interfaces, and trim materials of various colours, textures and lustres, layered one over the next. Attention to detail is apparent throughout in a cabin that generates a luxurious, formal, high-tech, and uniquely modern atmosphere.

Feature content in the top-line tester included a massive panoramic sunroof, a potent Harman Kardon stereo, and a big, bright central command screen underlined with logical tactile buttons for easy navigation through hundreds of functions. Control interfaces spill down onto the centre console, with various controls placed around the shifter, like a Lexus or BMW.

The suspension sees a layer of softness dialled in around mildly-stiff shocks, for responsive handling and a comfortable ride. Optima neither floats nor crashes into bumps and potholes, preferring instead to absorb them with minimal upset, minimal noise, and a feel of durability. It’s notably stable when tossed around on empty back roads: it’s laid-back, comfortable, and capable. The steering is smooth with no harshness transmitted back to the driver, and is light and lazy at low speeds for easy manoeuvrability in tight quarters.

Even generously-sized adults should find space to spare up front, with numerous at-hand storage implements, cupholders and cubbies close by. Power outlets, even wireless recharging technology are within easy reach, too. Rear seats are spacious where legroom and width are concerned, though headroom is tight for taller passengers. The trunk is extra deep, largely square, and can easily handle a week’s worth of shopping.

Optima’s top-level 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder generates 245 horsepower, 30 less than last year’s model. Torque output is generous, and the less-powerful engine still flings the Optima along with urgency when called upon, though the turbocharger gets into its game more slowly, and with less ferocity than before. Mileage on my watch, including plenty of highway cruising, landed at a respectable 9.5 litres/100 km.

On the other hand, paddle shifting isn’t responsive or quick enough to warrant much use. And the brakes are powerful, but lack any meaningful feel at the pedal, which itself feels like it’s connected to a cinder block. Finally, given the luxury look of the cabin, the ride could be quieter.

Ultimately though, the Optima is a comfortable, well-equipped family sedan that punches well above its weight.

You’ll like this car if ... rich styling, an upscale cabin, advanced features, and a well-sorted ride top your new-car wish-list.


  • Base price: $23,695; as tested: $38,129
  • Engine: 2.0-litre GDI Turbo four-cylinder
  • Transmission/Drive: Six-speed automatic with paddle-shift/Front-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 10.9 city, 7.4 highway, regular fuel
  • Alternatives: Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6, Honda Accord, Subaru Legacy


  • Looks: Optima is one of the market’s most distinctive and instantly-recognizable family sedans – and is packed full of visual details and drama that form a rich, sophisticated look.
  • Interior: Trim and accents are well used toward an upscale look, and the cabin is roomy, offers plentiful storage, and is largely logical in layout.
  • Performance: Performance is pleasing, though a syrupy steering feel and poor brake feel may leave driving enthusiasts wanting.
  • Technology: The Optima offers a collection of must-have features, including wireless recharging, radar cruise control, a 360-degree camera system, and navigation.
  • Cargo: The Optima’s trunk is deep, wide, largely square, and ready to accept camping supplies for a two-person weekend getaway with ease.



A top-line Optima SX-L amounts to a luxurious, well-equipped and efficient family sedan with world-class styling and a reasonable price-tag. Where style, feature content and comfort are concerned, it’s a compelling value.

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:

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.


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.


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.


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:

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.

Kia: Winning The Sedan War With Its Luxury-Laden 2016 Optima

October 21, 2015, 5:00 AM

Ask anyone familiar with the current Kia Optima, “What do you think of Kia’s midsize sedan?” and you’ll hear phrases like ”great styling” or “looks like a luxury car” or “lots of value for the money.” Not a bad set of impressions, and proof Kia nailed the last Optima redesign in terms of exterior styling and feature content. In fact, if the Optima struggles with anything it’s awareness, with many Americans still oblivious to the Optima’s compelling value statement. These folks likely assume the Optima is a European luxury sedan when they see one on the road, an understandable error given Peter Schreyer, Kia’s head of design, worked at Audi for 15 years before transferring to Kia in 2005. Schreyer created one of the most attractive vehicles in the midsize sedan category when the third-generation Optima debuted in 2011.

Burgundy Optima

This helped the Optima achieve 150,000 in annual sales, the first-ever Kia to reach that number in the U.S. market. This is critical because at Kelley Blue Book we’re watching the decline of car sales in favor of trucks, though Kia is fighting the trend with its attractive and value-packed Optima. But like any great design exercise the real challenge comes when its time for an update, forcing Kia to decide how much, or how little, to change. One look at the all-new 2016 Optima and it’s clear Kia went subtle versus sweeping. The short, wide grille (Kia calls it the “tiger nose” grille) remains, as does the fastback roofline and wrap-around taillights, though they’re now available with optional LEDs as part of the new car’s push into luxury and technology. The Optima’s wheelbase, length and height are up about half an inch, and it’s wider by 1.2 inches. These shifts give the car a bit more presence on the road and bit more space inside (104.8 cubic feet of cabin space versus 102.2 cubic feet in the outgoing model).

inside the vehicle

The 2016 Optima’s roomier interior means its got more space than benchmark models like Honda’s Accord and Toyota’s Camry. Material quality is comprehensively improved, with Nappa leather in Merlot and Aubergine shades available on top-trim SXL versions. Real stitching on the steering wheel, dash and door panels is contrasted with metal accents, and subtle touches like the damped center console door and clean center stack controls drive home the premium character Kia wants to broadcast with this car. The interior does feel quite roomy, though rear headroom was tight and rear seat thigh support somewhat compromised for folks over 6-feet tall. Kia has to balance that sleek roofline with rear headroom, and they’ve done a commendable job given the opposing nature of those goals. The front seats were reconfirmed for 2016 and their comfort is superb, with optional heated and cooled front seats available on premium models.

Cradling this larger, more luxurious cabin is a revised chassis with 150 percent more high-strength steel and an increased use of structural adhesives for 58 percent greater torsional rigidity. The 2016 Optima also features a revised suspension with dual lower-control arms in the rear, twice as many subframe bushings (4 versus the previous 2) and, on SX and SXL models, a rack-mounted electric power steering assist motor for quicker steering response and greater feedback. Increased insulation around the dash, acoustic laminated front windows and larger cross-member bushings all contribute to a quieter, smoother ride with improved handling dynamics. After driving the new Optima on a series of twisty roads in the Nevada mountains outside Las Vegas we were impressed with the car’s balance of performance and luxury, even on base LX models.