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#13

in Affordable Midsize Cars

MSRP: $21,650 - $35,500
Invoice: $20,715 - $33,140
MPG: 23 City / 34 Hwy
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Kia Optima Performance

The 2015 Kia Optima is composed on a winding road and has a comfortable ride, reviewers say. They agree that the Optima’s engines are powerful, and they really like the added punch of the turbocharged engine.

  • "If you think a car should be as good at driving as it looks, you'll feel right at home in the 2015 Kia Optima. In EX and SX trims, the larger wheels and tires, along with the sport suspension in the SX, give this big sedan an athletic demeanor usually reserved for smaller, sportier cars." -- AutoTrader
  • "The 2015 Kia Optima rides comfortably without isolating you from the environment, although the car's numb steering detracts from the driving experience when the road gets twisty. Overall, though, driving the Optima is certainly pleasant." -- Edmunds
  • "Optima's driving experience is more inspired than most midsize cars, though it does not rank with the best in this class in this regard." -- Consumer Guide
  • "It doesn't take much time behind the wheel of the 2014 Kia Optima to get a favorable impression of this car." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Kia Optima has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 192 horsepower. A 274-horsepower, turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is available in higher trims. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA estimates that the base Optima will get 23/34 mpg city/highway, which is a bit low for the class, while models with the turbocharged engine should get 20/31 mpg.

The base Optima has plenty of power on the highway, critics say, though they really like the turbocharged engine, saying it feels like a V6 and has plenty of power from a stop. The six-speed automatic makes good use of the engines’ power and is responsive, according to the automotive press.

  • "The high horsepower ratings on both engines are tempered somewhat by the fact that we've witnessed only average acceleration times. … But in everyday driving, the Optima has enough power for safe passing and merging, and the transmission is responsive and shifts smoothly." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2.4-liter gasoline engine has more than enough power for the average driver, but we fell in love with the rush of power that the turbo afforded. The engine is calibrated to deliver smooth flow from a dead stop, making the turbo feel like a robust V6." -- AutoTrader
  • "Robust, responsive and never slow to answer the call, the turbo turns the Optima into one mean street machine." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)
  • "Having 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque on tap is great in a car this size. … The way the power is delivered is really this car's strong suit. There's a small amount of turbo lag right off the line, but from there, power delivery is smooth and linear. The six-speed automatic transmission is perfectly matched to deliver maximum power without having to mash the pedal, and the whole experience is truly rewarding." -- Autoblog (2013)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers agree that the 2015 Kia Optima is a capable handler on a winding road, and that it delivers a comfortable ride, though some note that it’s not as sporty as it looks. Some critics think the Optima has vague steering and others think the steering is accurate.

  • "Out on the road, the Optima is competent in the corners, but chassis is primarily tuned for ride comfort - as is the case with most of its competition - and the steering is numb and slightly imprecise." -- Left Lane News
  • "The Optima corners well; body roll and lean become noticeable only during the most demanding maneuvers. Aided by the nicely weighted steering and electronic stability control, we pushed the Optima to its limit without getting ourselves into too much trouble." -- AutoTrader
  • "And while the Optima's exterior styling is very attractive, there isn't much of a sporty personality to match. It's not like the lack of athletic handling is a deal breaker in a car like this, but know that the Optima is just less fun to drive than you might expect." -- Edmunds
  • "We found the Optima's suspension dialed more for comfort than performance, at least in the LX and EX trims, and we surmise that's exactly the formula preferred by most sedan buyers. The Optima's steering feel is a bit on the heavy side, but it's nice at cruising speeds requiring minimal input to make course corrections." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)
Review Last Updated: 11/10/14

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