My test vehicle was the top trim level of the Optima, an SX Limited, and featured a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine that offers 245 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque.
This is the top selling point of the Optima, the powerful turbo engine that gets you moving faster than most sedans on the market. I was genuinely surprised by the power it offered, in a pleasant way, as you don’t see that often in this segment. Handling and overall quietness of the ride also impressed.
Only concern was that I did find the Optima to be a bit jerky at times when I first got moving from a stop. The Optima is a front-wheel drive vehicle, and no all-wheel drive option is available.
The option of this powerful turbo engine makes it a standout in the midsize sedan segment, at least if power is what you’re looking for. Lower trim levels’ engine options include a 1.6-liter turbo (178 hp) and a 2.4-liter non-turbo (185 hp).
Kia’s UVO eServices infotainment setup in recent years is one of the most easy-to-use and user-friendly options on the market, and the setup on the Optima was no exception. Not only were physical buttons and the touchscreen easy to use, but voice commands also worked very well for navigation, phone and radio.
I also had the security of safety features such as: Front Collision Warning System, Blind Spot Detection System, Rear Parking Assist System, Lane Departure Warning System, Autonomous Emergency Braking System, Advanced Smart Cruise Control (one of my favorites, slowing the vehicle down if a car gets in your lane while you are using cruise control), and Surround View Monitor, which shows an excellent view of what’s going on when you are backing out.
A Harmon Kardon premium surround sound system is also offered. And headlights on upper trim levels are now LEDs.
Official fuel mileage numbers on the Kia Optima are 22 city/31 highway/25 combined. In my experience in the Optima, I averaged 22.4 mpg.
This is one area where much of the competition does have the Optima SX Limited beat by a few mpg, but that’s not a surprise given the performance of the Optima’s turbo engine. Also, if you ditch the turbo on the Optima, and you are in the fuel mileage range of the competition.
It’s one of the scenarios where you may have to choose between the higher mpg and the more enjoyable ride the turbo would offer.
PRICE, BOTTOM LINE
My test Optima came in just under $37,000 and was the top trim level; Base price for the Optima starts at just over $22,000, so there is definitely some range there depending what engine, options and trim level you choose. The price on the lower end is on part with most rivals, but the top trim level is among the more expensive in the segment. Most buyers will end up going with something inbetween.
If you want an upscale sedan with a powerful motor, the turbocharged Optima SX Limited is one I recommend you take for a test drive.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.