The midsize sedan market is one of the fiercest markets out there, second to only the SUVs. With such a large market, you have a lot of manufacturers competing, with everyone wishing a bigger slice of the pie. Naturally, when you have names as big as Honda, Toyota, and Ford, all going head to head with their Accord, Camry and Fusion, it’s difficult to stand out and get recognized. Simply being a famous brand no longer works in this cut-throat segment. Luckily, Kia knew this when they first launched the Optima back a few years ago. No one expected it, but the car proved to be a massive success. Fast forward to 2017, and the new 2017 Kia Optima.
On the outside at least, it’s still a looker. The 2016 update freshened it up quite a bit, so it still looks innovative and original. We know a lot of cars get this, since they genuinely look gorgeous, but the Optima really does stand out. The front fascia is instantly recognizable as a Kia, which is a weird thing to say, and the flowing lines coupled with the sloped roofline make it seem longer than it really is. It’s sleek, beautiful and elegant, and not a lot of cars can pull off that look. The front grille is unique too, with its narrow design, incorporating into the headlights nicely. We’re not biased, but it’s certainly among the best looking sedans currently.
The five-passenger sedan is offered in a couple of trims, namely: LX, EX, SX and SXL. The base LX comes loaded with lots of stuff that’s optional on a lot of its competitors, such as: cruise control, air-conditioning, rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a large 5-inch central display and an USB port with an aux audio jack. The LX 1.6T (different engine) adds a few safety features, power-folding heated mirrors and memory settings. The EX is the flagship “normal” trim, while the SX is the sporty trim with a different engine. The SXL is the top of the line trim with absolutely everything, but it does come at a premium.
Speaking of engines, the LX and EX get a 2.4 liter four-cylinder naturally-aspirated unit with 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed auto is standard with no manual option. The LX 1.6T meanwhile gets, as the name hints, a 1.6 liter four-cylinder turbocharged unit with 178 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed auto is standard with, again, no manual.
The 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder found in the SX and SXL develops 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Thanks to a six-speed auto, the Optima in these trims can reach 60 miles per hour in 6.7 seconds. A good time, but nothing to brag about. It’s just below average for a flagship midsize sedan, but as it’s a smaller turbocharged unit and not a large V6, we’ll let it slide. The 2.4 liter returns 28 mpg, the 1.6T 25 mph and the 2.0 liter gives 25 mpg on the combined cycle.
Prices for the Optima start at $22,100 for the base model, and go up accordingly.