2016 Kia Optima SX: Power and Performance Dominate the Road

By Durhl Caussey
Durhl Caussey
Durhl Caussey
November 29, 2015 Updated: December 5, 2015

The Optima SX looks good and feels comfortable, but it is the engine that excited me. The 2.0 L turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline direct-injection (GDI) engine with 6-speed automatic transmission and Drive Mode Select (Normal, ECO, or Sport) kept me actively tuned into the driving environment.

I marveled at how a 4-cylinder that averages 25 mpg combined could have such a quick and robust response by simply touching the accelerator. It made me downright dizzy.

Torque was an amazing 260 lb-ft between 1,350 to 4,000 rpm, and the peak 245 hp comes at 6,000 rpm.

Drive Mode Select allows you to set the tone and parameters for the drive as the 18-inch alloy wheels just keep on spinning.

The Optima drives smoothly, assisted by a 6-speed automatic with Sportmatic gear-select. In the Optima line, the LX 1.6T gets a bit more assist with the 7-speed dual-clutch auto.

As you get behind the wheel you automatically know that the cabin is designed with driver considerations in mind. The dashboard contour is laid out to allow the sleek instrument panel with a 4.3-inch color LCD display in the middle to provide a better sense of space.

The Optima looks larger than its midsize pedigree.

The navigation system with available voice command shares the 8-inch display with the rearview camera—both standard on the SX. The screen offers superb color tones, allowing streets and other geographic features like lakes or parks to be quickly identified.

Bluetooth wireless technology, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and the 12-way power adjustable driver’s seat (leather trim and heated) with power lumbar support adds to comfort, as the leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters extends the complexion of luxury.

Oh yes, the steering wheel controls allow effortless use of Bluetooth/audio/cruise. Push button start with smart key gets you off to a quick start, while smart trunk is just a touch away.

The comfortable driver’s seat mentioned earlier has position memory, while auto-unfolding power outside mirrors help get you settled quickly upon entrance. The auto-dimming rear view mirror makes those things behind you more discernable.

Outside, the Optima looks larger than its midsize pedigree. Every angle and sculpted line adds to the strong exterior profile. HID headlights with auto-leveling and dynamic bending, and power-folding heated mirrors with LED turn signals, balance the front fascia against the sport LED taillights and dual exhaust chrome tips at the back.

What is the use having all the technology with luxury surroundings if there is little thought given to passenger safety?

Kia engineers have designed the Optima for optimal safety. They start off by designing a unique body structure that helps provide protection while improving driving dynamics. All these factors add to a strong foundation and a quiet, comfortable ride overall.

Side impact door beams, advanced air bag system, and seat sensors also contribute to your peace of mind.

Optima SX, a fine quality car offered at fair market price with an MSRP of $29,690.

There is also a $4,800 SX Premium Technology Package that I would highly recommend as it is worth the money. A whole Christmas list of advanced features await you, including panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, Harmon/Kardon Premium Surround Sound, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, and autonomous emergency braking. Just a few of the more than 30 items included as part of this package offered to make your drive more pleasant, comfortable, and safe.

5-year/60,000-mile Limited Basic Warranty
10-year/100,000-mile Limited Powertrain Warranty
5-year/100,000-mile Limited Anti-perforation Warranty
5-year/60,000-mile 24-hour Roadside Assistance

Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or dcaussey@sbcglobal.net