The exterior of this new Optima is in one word: stunning. Kia has bumped up its exterior sophistication as of late and the new Optima is no different, so says Kia’s president and chief designer officer Peter Schreyer. He calls his 2016 Optima design “modern and instantly recognizable.”
I’m not sure if you’d say “Kia” right away when you walk up to a 2016 Optima EX, but you’d most definitely think: “This is a sexy Euro-styled sedan with an edge.”
Kia says its new Optima has a longer, wider and stiffer chassis “for improved ride and handling and a more spacious cabin.” Surely, on our weeklong road test through some of LA’s fanciest neighborhoods, we discovered Kia did an excellent job in crafting an even better-looking Euro sedan in its new Optima.
The new Optima’s width makes it quite the modern monster ride. Take that aggressive stance – along with fly alloy wheels, beefy chromed-out grille, super sculpted sidelines, panoramic roof and rough-in-a-good-way racer booty – and you got a design winner on the Optima’s sexy and sporty outside.
Inside, the front cabin exudes more European grace with an interior to rival BMW indeed. The flat sweeping dash and sparse central console bent towards the driver are quite BMW-like as is the feels-perfect steering wheel with thumb-based controls, crisp digital gauges, do-everything supremely comfortable leather trimmed chairs, hot high tech infotainment and an available bumpin’ Harmon/Kardon surround sound system (see pricing below but all this and more for under $30).
The Optima truly gets today’s modern driver as this cockpit features a mobile device charging niche just at the bottom of the central console and in front of the handsome shift knob (which fits perfectly in your right hand while driving even though you don’t need to shift). This deep rectangular pit held my oversized LG G4 perfectly with its black rubber grip at the bottom while the “charging unit” just above conveniently fits everything from a traditional 12-volt “cigarette” input to iPhone auxiliary to USB ports. Well played for mobile road warriors, Kia!
Those who upgrade to the Optima EX’s “premium package” (see prices below) get UVO2 infotainment software on the impressive eight-inch touchscreen. Plus, this roving hot spot connectivity system also comes with four additional “eServices” including: Speed Alert, Curfew Alert, DrivingScore3 and Geo-fencing. In addition, Kia has announced its 2016 Optima is the “pilot vehicle” for Kia’s introduction of Android Auto (must operate using Lollipop) and is working on “late availability” integration for Apple’s CarPlay (so not yet available in dealerships and must be iOS8.X or higher).
Sure, you could stop with the Optima EX’s premium package and be quite content with the standard six-speaker audio system. However, on several tests of 2016 Optima models, I have come to discover the ethereal ear enjoyment of the Optima’s premium audio package.
Quite frankly, this sophisticated Euro-styled sedan is further enhanced into luxury status with the superior sounds of its available Harman/Kardon QuantumLogic surround sound system – especially when coupled with HD Radio and SiriusXM satellite radio. The 630-Watt digital amplifier equipped with Clari-Fi’s “multidimensional soundstage for playback” technology boosts each ride into an exhilarating audiofest.
The 2.4-liter EX trim level is a good choice for those who are seeking top performance and fuel efficiency at the same time along with a chance at all the goodies in Kia’s tech and safety magic box in two somewhat affordable packages.
The 2.4-liter turbocharged powerplant, which is exclusively found in the EX, is certainly powerful enough to tackle anything LA’s got from its treacherous Mulholland Drive to the windy Cahuenga Pass to stop-and-go traffic on historic boulevards to narrow cottage-lined streets. Although this road tester would be happier with a bit more pep from a dead stop, the Optima’s acceleration in all gears is zippy and robust. All other driving dynamics – especially steering and handling – are excellent and make for any type of drive you are seeking from a calm Sunday drive to a safe school commute to a rush-to-work commute.
We have road tested almost every 2016 Optima model and – after a week driving in LA traffic – we deem this EX model to be the best pick for those who want performance, fuel efficiency and must stick to a petrol-powered car.
Besides all of Kia’s many standard and available advanced safety systems, the 2016 Kia Optima was awarded five stars in crash test ratings from the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Want one more reason to check out the new Optima? Like Kia’s award-winning 2015 model, the 2016 is built at Kia’s manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia.