From a car company that not long ago was known for cheap, boring cars comes what many call the best looking midsize sedan. Since 2011 the Optima has come to represent the leaps forward the Korean auto makers are making. The styling is striking and the interior quality is also good. Then again at the Optima's new lofty price tag it has to be an impressive car. The styling of the car is sporty and aggressive. Kia makes good use of chrome to add some unique touches to the car. Our fully loaded SX turbo test car had special sport bumpers and wheels to improve the look even further. Apart from the cheesy grill it is difficult to find fault with anything on the outside of the Optima.
On the inside the Optima looks like you would expect any luxury car to. Nice dash, touch screen navigation, heated and cooled seats...but wait this is not a luxury car, this is a midsize sedan. The list of features on this car is all most unheard of in this category. As you open the door you are struck by the nice layout of the interior. The controls in the centre stack are angled towards the driver which adds a sporty touch. As you close the door one notices that it sounds a little tinny when you slam it shut. Seated in the driver seat you grip a nicely shaped sport steering wheel with a paddle shift set up. The gauge cluster has a high-resolution screen in the middle to give you fuel and trip information. To your right on the centre stack there is a large touch screen that has easy to use menus and nice graphics. Passengers in the back seats have a nice ride due to a large second sunroof over the rear seats. Leg room is ample and the seats are also heated.
On the road the first thing you notice it the surprising power from the 2.0L turbo 4 cylinder engine. It has a nice even power band with torque available from low to high RPM. The transmission has smooth quick shifts and has a fun manual mode if you choose to use it. The steering wheel is easy to turn at parking lot speeds but very sharp with good feed back when you speed up. The suspension takes the corners well with all most no body roll. The handling is good enough to be compared with some of the more expensive sports sedans. Braking is also very good. The driving experience is quiet unless the engine is pushed hard. Unfortunately our test car had a persistent rattle coming from the area of the sunroof. Over all it must be said that although the build quality is good, it is not on par with the Honda Accord or the Buick Regal.
The bottom line: This is a great car for the money offering unique styling, value and fuel economy. The car has enough going for it that you can over look it's shortcomings.
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