2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Terrible Tires
November 07, 2011
Whenever I drive our long-term Kia Optima SX Turbo I think about its tires. Specifically how terrible they are. To me, this car always feels like its a good set of tires away from being really good.
But as it comes from Kia wearing these Nexen Classe Premiere CP662 all-season things, it rides a little rougher than it should and it stops, steers and turns like it's wearing bottom basement buy three get one free rubber from Costco.
Honestly I'd never heard of Nexen tires until yesterday when I took the above photo. I know nothing about the brand and I know nothing about the quality of Nexen's products. But I do know when a good car feels like it's being held back by bad tires, and the Kia Optima SX Turbo is a classic case of good car bad rubber.
Funny, some of our staff members have noticed this before. When we took the Optima to the test track back in February test driver Chris Walton wrote in his notes, "Where's the grip? Nexen tires make the Optima feel like it's trying to turn on ice." He later went on to call the tires slippy and said they overheat and get greasy within a few runs through the slalom. He also said the tires felt slippery in the braking runs from 60 mph.
Meanwhile the performance test numbers are lukewarm for a sedan wearing sizable, low profile 225/45R18 inch rubber. It pulled a .80g around the skidpad and ran through the slalom at 62.7 mph. It also stopped from 60 mph in 125 ft. Not embarrassing by a long shot, but I'm curious what it could do with better shoes. And I'm not talking about Summers either, just a good, quality all-season ultra high-performance tire like these. I'm not sure, but maybe Nexen's own ultra high-performance all-season tire called the N6000 would even be better.
Then there's the Optima's ride. This car always feels like it rides rougher than it should. Like there's 90 psi in the tires. It crashes over stuff instead of absorbing the impacts. Again, probably the tires.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief