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2012 Kia Optima

$6,173 — $15,185 USED
Sedan
5 Seats
27-29 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 4 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Sharp styling
  • Richly appointed cabin
  • Roomy trunk
  • Standard USB/iPod integration
  • Gas mileage
  • Brake-pedal feel

The Bad

  • Backseat headroom
  • Front seats need more cushioning
  • Manual transmission not offered with turbo four-cylinder
  • Some options unavailable together
  • Folding backseat leaves small pass-through
2012 Kia Optima exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2012 Kia Optima
  • More standard features for 2012
  • Choice of two four-cylinders, including a 274-hp turbo engine
  • Available hybrid version
  • Available heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel
  • Available voice-recognition audio system

Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Vehicle Overview

Kia has transformed its Optima family sedan from a plain, forgettable entry to one of the most distinctively styled cars in the class. Three trim levels are available — LX, EX and SX — and the five-seat Optima competes against cars like the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. It's also offered in hybrid form.

(Skip to details on the: Optima Hybrid)New for 2012The base LX trim level gains new exterior styling cues including chrome door handles, fog lights, heated side mirrors and automatic headlights. Meanwhile, the midlevel EX trim now features LED taillights.

Exterior
With its creased sheet metal and low-slung shape, there's luxury-car sophistication to the Optima's exterior that you don't see in a lot of family sedans. The Optima features the new face of Kia that we've seen on models like the Sorento and Sportage crossovers. It's essentially a black mesh grille bordered by angular headlights, and the design enhances the car's aggressiveness. The placement of the Kia badge above the grille is a little odd-looking, though. Exterior features include:

  • Standard 16-inch steel wheels; available 16-, 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Standard dual chrome exhaust tips
  • Optional panoramic sunroof
  • Optional high-intensity-discharge headlights
  • Optional lip spoiler

Interior
The five-person cabin features front bucket seats and a rear bench seat. The interior has a driver-oriented design, with the entire center control pa...

Vehicle Overview

Kia has transformed its Optima family sedan from a plain, forgettable entry to one of the most distinctively styled cars in the class. Three trim levels are available — LX, EX and SX — and the five-seat Optima competes against cars like the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. It's also offered in hybrid form.

(Skip to details on the: Optima Hybrid)New for 2012The base LX trim level gains new exterior styling cues including chrome door handles, fog lights, heated side mirrors and automatic headlights. Meanwhile, the midlevel EX trim now features LED taillights.

Exterior
With its creased sheet metal and low-slung shape, there's luxury-car sophistication to the Optima's exterior that you don't see in a lot of family sedans. The Optima features the new face of Kia that we've seen on models like the Sorento and Sportage crossovers. It's essentially a black mesh grille bordered by angular headlights, and the design enhances the car's aggressiveness. The placement of the Kia badge above the grille is a little odd-looking, though. Exterior features include:

  • Standard 16-inch steel wheels; available 16-, 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Standard dual chrome exhaust tips
  • Optional panoramic sunroof
  • Optional high-intensity-discharge headlights
  • Optional lip spoiler

Interior
The five-person cabin features front bucket seats and a rear bench seat. The interior has a driver-oriented design, with the entire center control panel angled toward the driver. The optional Premium Package includes an Infinity stereo, Kia's UVO hands-free entertainment and communication system, and HD Radio. Interior features include:

  • Standard cloth seats; leather optional
  • Standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel
  • Standard cooled glove box
  • Standard CD stereo with MP3 jack and USB port
  • SX trim level has leather upholstery, stitched seams, paddle shifters on the steering wheel, metal pedals and illuminated scuff plates
  • Optional heated and cooled front seats
  • Optional rear seat heaters
  • Optional heated steering wheel
  • Optional navigation system with a backup camera

Under the Hood
Mechanical features include:

  • Standard 200-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder that teams with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission
  • Optional 274-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which works only with the automatic transmission

Safety
Standard safety features include:   

  • Antilock brakes
  • Side-impact airbags for the front seats
  • Side curtain airbags
  • Electronic stability system

Optima Hybrid
Like its sister vehicle, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the Optima Hybrid combines a 30-kilowatt electric motor with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder to produce a combined 206 hp. The transmission-mounted motor works with a six-speed automatic rather than the electrically variable transmissions most hybrids employ.

The Optima Hybrid can cruise on electric-only power under light acceleration and sufficient battery charge. For pedestrian awareness, the Optima Hybrid emits simulated engine noise when the car is moving on electric power alone.

The electric motor draws power from a lithium-polymer battery that's mounted behind the rear seat; consequently, the backseat forgoes a 60/40-split folding arrangement for a center pass-through. Overall trunk volume falls to 9.9 cubic feet. That's a considerable drop from the non-hybrid Optima's 15.4 cubic feet, but it's typical of a hybrid sedan: The Ford Fusion Hybrid sacrifices about 30 percent of trunk volume versus its non-hybrid equivalent.

Visual changes amount to a hybrid badge in back, aerodynamic 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels, minor differences to the grille and front lights, and a small rear trunk spoiler. Aerodynamic enhancements include lower bumper extensions and a slight reduction in ride height. All told, the Optima Hybrid looks far more like the regular Optima than the Sonata Hybrid does a Sonata.

Standard features include a power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and keyless access with push-button start. Heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic moonroof, and a navigation system with a backup camera are optional. Back to top

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.5
161 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.6)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

I LOVE my KIA! Comfy, reliable and no issues.

by KIS family from St Augustine FL on October 17, 2018

This car is reliable, comfortable and pretty! We love KIS in general and have a Forte and a van! We will definitely buy another KIA when the time comes. Read full review

(1.0)

Worst car ive ever owned

by Not a Fan of KIA from ATLANTA GA on October 12, 2018

Absolute worst car i have ever owned in my life... Not to mention the two recalls, i have had so much done to this car. Door lock actuator,steering couplings,motor replaced prior to recall,brake ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2012 Kia Optima currently has 2 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 Kia Optima LX

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Overall Evaluation
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Kia

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    120 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

Latest 2012 Optima Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Optima received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker