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)
The base LX trim level gains new sliding front head restraints and loses the choice of a manual transmission, leaving a six-speed automatic for all Optimas. A new SX Limited trim features Nappa leather seats, unique 18-inch chrome wheels, LED daytime running lights and red brake calipers.
The Optima Hybrid has an upgraded hybrid system with a more powerful electric motor and battery, as well as a stronger hybrid starter generator. There’s slightly more trunk space thanks to a repackaged hybrid battery and two trim levels of the hybrid are now offered.
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
- Optional LED daytime running lights
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
Mechanical features include:
- Standard 200-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder that teams with a six-speed automatic transmission
- Optional 274-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with the automatic transmission
Standard safety features include:
- Antilock brakes
- Side-impact airbags for the front seats
- Side curtain airbags
- Electronic stability system
Like its sister vehicle, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the Optima Hybrid gains a re-engineered hybrid drivetrain for 2013. It now combines a more powerful 47-hp electric motor with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine to produce a combined 199 hp and 235 pounds-feet of torque. The transmission-mounted motor works with a six-speed automatic rather than the electrically variable transmissions many hybrids employ. The electric motor draws power from a more powerful lithium-polymer battery that’s mounted behind the rear seat.
The Optima Hybrid can cruise on electric-only power under light acceleration and sufficient battery charge. EPA-estimated gas mileage for the base Optima Hybrid LX is 36/40 mpg city/highway while the uplevel EX is rated at 35/39 mpg.
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 spoiler. Aerodynamic enhancements include a slight reduction in ride height and underbody covers. All told, the Optima Hybrid looks far more like the regular Optima than the Sonata Hybrid does a Sonata.
Standard features include cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, a CD stereo with USB connectivity, a backup camera and push-button start. An Infinity premium stereo, navigation system, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats and leather upholstery are available.
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