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2012 Kia Optima SX Turbo

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On: Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 11:29AM | By: Chuck Arehart

2012 Kia Optima SX Turbo

Enter the new Kia Optima turbo with the keyless entry system and you are greeted with a new-age-y electronic jingle and on-screen message in the center of the instrument panel that welcomes you to the drive. You are further comforted with an extremely well-designed interior where everything falls ready to hand, seats that will support many a physique, and when properly optioned out, includes a dual panel sunroof and the latest in navigation and communications technology. Yes, Kia is serious about being competitive in the mid-size market and at first blush, the Optima is in the running for class-leading status.

The test car was dressed in SX trim which included a turbocharged 2.0 liter engine, for a base price of $26,500. Adding the Technology and Premium package adds another $4,350 to the sticker price and includes the aforementioned giant sunroof and voice-activated nav system with traffic warning and rerouting capability, premium sound system, front and rear seat heaters, cooled front seats with driver's seat memory, and a rear-view backup camera. All of which worked flawlessly and left me wanting for nothing. The bluetooth connectivity system is smart enough to read your cell phone directory for easy hands free calling.

Inside and out, the Optima demonstrated precision execution of build quality with perfectly fitting parts and no squeaks, rattles or any other unwanted noises. The Optima drove incredibly well, with the suspension exhibiting just the right amount of stiffness and compliance. The ride was never soft or overly harsh and the chassis always responded positively to steering inputs. Don't be afraid to press it hard into a corner, the 18-inch tires help stability and grip well. The Optima is one nice driving car.

An ECO button on the steering wheel reduces throttle response and lowers shift points from the six-speed automatic transmission to maximize fuel economy. Based on EPA estimates, the Optima Turbo should deliver 22 mpg city, and 34 mpg highway. Cold weather idling and lots of short trips brought overall fuel mileage down to 20 mpg, but there's no reason the Optima shouldn't deliver better mileage under more normal conditions. Make sure the ECO system is off to get the most from the turbocharged motor to experience all of its 274 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque. There's a big difference in full throttle response in ECO versus non-ECO mode. The powertrain is smooth and quiet, and steering wheel-mounted paddles make for easy and quick manual shifting.

The only hiccup in the Optima experience was a check engine light that stayed on the last two days of the review period. Kia answered that the turbocharger'selectronic wastegate actuator was not set to the correct voltage position and that it should not affect engine operation. While the light remained on, the Optima performed as it had beforehand.

The Optima demonstrates that Kia has paid close attention to the wants and needs of the U.S. market in its short 18-year history of offering vehicles here. As long as they stay true to their course, Kia products will remain worthy competitors.

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Stephy21 | 10:34AM (Fri, Feb 10, 2012)

This new Kia Optima sound very nice i had no idea that Kia offered all this in one car, it sounds to be a great car and makes me want one.


Sami18 | 12:25PM (Fri, Feb 10, 2012)

This car goes beyond anything i thought Kia would do and that's great cause alot more people will star to notice them.


caribbeanKia | 9:24PM (Tue, Feb 28, 2012)

I just bought the Optima SX Turbo today and I love it. It has all the gadgets you look for in a car. However, after 1 hour of driving the cushoning in the driver seat took a toll on me. Any feedbacks? Anyone has a suggestion on how to fix this?

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