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#14

in Affordable Midsize Cars

MSRP: $21,500 - $35,300
Invoice: $20,579 - $32,963
MPG: 23 City / 34 Hwy
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Kia Optima Performance

The 2014 Kia Optima is a little sportier on a winding road than many other affordable midsize cars, and auto critics like that it still delivers a comfortable ride. Reviewers agree that the Optima’s engines are potent, and they really like the added power of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

  • "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
  • "There's a potent turbocharged engine under that rakish hood. …" -- Autoblog (2013)
  • "… the Optima handles sportily enough that I think most enthusiasts could be happy owning one of these, especially considering its abundant turbocharged power." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
  • "As good as all this packaging is, it would be for naught if the Optima didn’t or couldn’t step up to the plate. In this regard, it did not disappoint." -- Left Lane News (2011)

Acceleration and Power

The base Kia Optima has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 192 horsepower. The 2014 Optima is also available with a 274-horsepower, turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The EPA estimates that Optima models with the base engine will get 23/34 mpg city/highway, which is about average for a four-cylinder car in this class, while models with the turbocharged engine should get 20/31 mpg.

Reviewers say the 2014 Optima’s base four-cylinder engine provides plenty of acceleration. Many report that models with the turbocharged engine are more fun to drive, and they like that it offers V6-like power and good fuel economy. The six-speed automatic is praised for its fast, refined shifts.

  • "Robust, responsive and never slow to answer the call, the turbo turns the Optima into one mean street machine." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Both of the regular four-cylinder engines are impressive. They produce best-in-class power and are paired with responsive and smooth-shifting transmissions. The potential for truly impressive fuel economy is an ample slab of icing on the cake." -- Edmunds (2013)
  • "The standard 2.4-liter engine feels peppy in most driving situations. After a modest delay from a stop, the turbocharged engine accelerates much like a V6." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "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

Most test drivers say the Kia Optima delivers a comfortable ride, and some say it’s a bit sporty in turns. A few reviewers note that the Optima has vague steering. The Optima receives praise for its strong brakes.

  • "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
  • "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
  • "Non-Hybrid Optimas air on the sportier side of mainstream midsize sedans. The steering feels well balanced, and the brakes deliver smooth, linear stopping power." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The Optima offered a good balance between a soft ride on straight runs and fairly buttoned-down cornering control." -- Popular Mechanics (2011)
Review Last Updated: 5/15/14

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