Saturday Road Test – Kia Optima Turbo

 

2016 Optima SX 2.0 turbo

2016 Optima SX 2.0 turbo

2016 Kia Optima LX Turbo

This is a 1.6 liter Turbo?

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Looking over the specifications in the just delivered test car, I learned that under the hood was a 1.6-liter four. Not, on the face of it, likely to produce many smiles in the acceleration department even with the turbo.

That was wrong! In the Sport mode the 178 horsepower four with a new and smaller turbo for 2016 made good use of the 198 lb-ft of torque on tap. Aiding and abetting this effort was a slick 7 speed twin-clutch automatic. Motor Trend achieved a 0-60 run of 7.5 seconds that would be right in line with Kia’s rivals, yet better than one would expect from just a 1.6 liter engine.

On the highway, the Optima was quiet and the tranny was quick to downshift to pass slow moving semis up South Mountain on I-70 and the always eye catching Sideling Hill on I-68. Steering feedback was numb, but then again this is not a Porsche 911.

Icing on the cake was the 39 mpg optimal Optima EPA highway mileage, with an estimated 28 city for a combined 32 mpg. I came in at an even 30.

Here is another plus. Real adults 6’ tall will have nothing to complain about space wise in the second row. There was ample leg, foot and head room in the 60/40 folding seats housed in an interior that belies the MSRP. Okay, if you insist on wearing your Stetson, get a pickup.

2016 Kia Optima

2016 Optima SXL

A power height adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support made it quick and easy to find that “just right” seating position that can be locked into the memory along with the outside mirrors. A stiffer seat frame this model year reduces vibration, and more supportive foam in thigh-support areas are matched with deeper side bolsters.

Move to the upper class trim packages, and one can choose from Napa leather trim available in two colors: “a rich Merlot and Dark Aubergine.” I looked that one up for you, and it is a dark purple or brownish purple that is said to resemble the color of the outer skin of European eggplants. In 2014, it was one of “Falls Hottest Hues” according to instyle.com. Amazing what you can learn in these road tests isn’t it?

Dual zone climate control with rear vents, a navi system housed in an 8 inch screen, and the center console USB chargers with a 12 volt outlet, along with an excellent satellite audio system, made a day long trip through the wilds of a West Virginia treat. One can also select Kia’s Android Auto and Apple Car Play which allow occupants to access a suite of core functions from their smartphones.

The 8 inch touchscreen displays the smartphone’s most important features including music, messaging, navigation and voice calls. It works with Android phones operating with Lollipop or Apple phones with iOS8.X or higher.

Overall, I felt the interior with additional soft touch surfaces and commendable fit and finish was noteworthy given the fact that the test car was an LX, at the bottom of the five member family of available trim levels. Take a bow assemblers in West Point, Georgia.

For safety sake, an optional “Technology Package” included Blind Sport Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Rear Parking Assist System, along with the standard equipment Tire Pressure Monitor, Traction Control System, and Electronic Stability Control.

Even with the $825 delivery charge factored in, one could purchase the test car for $27,415, and come away with a fine set of wheels for well under the $30K plateau.

From a driving and design standpoint, the refreshed 2016 model scores a bull’s eye in meeting the expectations of its intended buyers.

2016 Kia Optima

 

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