2011 Kia Optima Long-Term Road Test

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2011 Kia Optima: Tire Rotation Service Light

December 22, 2011

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Yesterday morning our Kia Optima flashed a new service light I'd never seen before, specifically asking for a tire rotation. Since our car was at service a 1,000 miles ago and the tires were rotated then, I'm guessing the tech forgot to reset that particular warning.

Time to break out the manual and see if we can reset it ourselves.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 16,313 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Another Reason I Don't Like These Wheels

December 12, 2011

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Besides the fact that the wheels on our 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo look like those on the Hot Wheels cars I played with as a child, they also are highly susceptible to being curbed. Perhaps this is the reason for the steering angle display at start up. Follow the jump to see a few shots of the minuscule amount of (non-existent amount of) cushion the tire provides against curbs. Interestingly, the rear wheel has suffered more contact than the front.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 15,476 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Good Service, Long Wait

November 30, 2011

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For the first service visit we took the 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo to Car Pros Carson Kia, in Carson, Calif. There, the service advisor put us on notice that next time we might be due for brake service. It wasn't a big deal but to talk brake service in the first service visit was getting things off on a bad footing. (A friend's Honda Element went over 100k without needing brakes.) So, for variety, I decided to try another dealership and compare the service. I called Kia of Cerritos and scheduled an appointment. I spoke with a service advisor, Rene, who was friendly, efficient and helpful.

When I arrived in the service lane this morning, a service advisor popped out of the nearby offices and approached me. Yes, it was Rene, and he was just as friendly, helpful and efficient in person. Since it was cold, I said I'd meet him inside. "Just go to the lounge, I'll find you," he said. As I waited for him to bring me the paperwork, my customary suspicious nature began to work. Was he being friendly to soften me up for an inflated service bill?

Moments later, true to his word, he appeared with a clipboard and asked me to sign. "How much is it?" I had to ask. He pointed at the bottom line: "Just $49.95." I felt like a creep for being so uptight. But in the past, we've seen overcharges of all kinds for what should be routine maintenance. He also told me that a software update was needed. It took over two hours for all the work to be done. But Rene kept coming out to give me status reports. Otherwise, it would be like sitting in a restaurant and wondering if the waiter forgot you. It was a considerate touch that offset the long wait.

One more thing: It's always interesting to see what the different dealerships put on their little oil change sticker in the upper right hand corner. The default position used to be 3,000 miles and three months. But that figure has been creeping up as oil change intervals become longer. Kia of Cerritos said we need another oil change in four months or 5,000 miles which pretty much agrees with our owner's manual.

Philip Reed, Edmunds.com Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 15,148 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: 15,000 Miles

November 29, 2011

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It's a good day for our long-term Kia Optima.

1). It crossed the 15,000-mile mark, and we're still digging it.

2). We scheduled a service appointment for tomorrow.

Happy 15K, Kia.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 15,096 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Oil Change Needed

November 22, 2011

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When I started up the Kia Optima this morning, the IP screen immediately flashed the sporty sedan's desire for an oil change.

The Thanksgiving holiday makes for a hectic week around here, so the Optima will likely have to wait until next week to receive its regular service.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 14,802 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Aircon Grooooooan

September 09, 2011

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The title pretty much says it all -- our longterm 2011 Kia Optima now has a groany air conditioner, when previously it did not. It makes a muted but unmistakable sound not unlike prolonged flatulence when the revs reach idle speed. The noise is linked to a/c use, not fan use.

It's not super loud -- couldn't capture it with a crappy cellphone mic -- but once pointed out, the sound is difficult to ignore. Even when the radio's on. Maybe that's just a fixation thing. I'm no psychologist.

Anyway, it still blows cold and works fine, just makes a noise.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2011 Kia Optima: Accelerated Aging?

September 02, 2011

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We're about six months and 11,000 miles into our Kia Optima Turbo and I found the first signs of age this morning: the steering wheel. In the image above, you can see that the leather wrapping now has a glossy sheen to it. After the jump, I have a picture of when it was new.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: TPMS Light

August 19, 2011

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Wednesday night the Tire Pressure Monitoring System light came on in the Optima. Visual observation said there wasn't a flat tire and a quick check with a pen-style gauge on Thursday showed that all the tires were low.

But not too low.

I checked again with a better gauge after driving home and saw that the lowest tire was at 28 psi. Recommended pressure is 35 psi at all four. Seven psi low is still within the 25-percent threshold the Feds mandate for a TPMS light trigger.

Factor in variances in air temperature and gauges and I'd guess that's where the extra five percent is that triggered the light.

I filled them up to 35 psi. Lightt is off. For now.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: 10,000 Miles In

August 05, 2011

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We started blogging about our Optima SX back in March and today we cleared 10,000 miles. We've had some small issues, including an interior lighting glitch, but otherwise it's gotten heaps of praise. I'd wager the Optima has been our staff's most adored midsize family sedan for the long-term program since we started doing the blog back in 2006.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 10,000 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Oil Alarm Snafu

July 14, 2011

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After we blogged about changing the oil in the Optima every 7,500 miles, we got a severe scolding from cbass88 who wrote: "RTFM, THE OIL CHANGE INTERVAL IS EVERY 5000 ON THE SX, QUIT SAYING IT IS 7500!!" We had checked the manual many times and we were sure it was 7,500 miles. Besides, the maintenance light came on at 7,500 and that was set at the factory.

But, sure enough, after we RTFM again, here is what we found.

In a difficult to read footnote we found that the intervals for the SX is 5,000 miles presumably because it is turbocharged. Footnote *3 reads, "Engine oil (2.0 TGDI)…every 5,000 miles (8,000 km) or 6 months."

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Service Visit - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

July 13, 2011

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The Optima was due for its first oil change and tire rotation so I called ahead to price these services. I was told it would be $57 for the two so I wrote this down, along with the service advisor's name, since she had been helpful on the phone. I was being cautious because, as many of you already know, a service visit is often the scene of intense upselling.

When I showed up at Car Pros Carson Kia, in Carson, Calif., the service advisor who had been helpful on the phone was waiting on the woman in line ahead of me. The service advisor was doing a real tap dance, offering specials and coupons and all kinds of preferred services which included an 'injector service" and totaled $349. I nearly cheered when the woman said, "I'll wait on that."

Oddly enough, when it was my turn, the service advisor stuck to our agreement for just the oil change and tire rotation. I was then offered my choice of two different places to wait, the TV lounge or the quiet lounge. I'd never run into this before but I liked getting away from the mindless chatter of the bubbleheads on early morning TV.

The car was returned to me on time by the service advisor who said the "courtesy inspection" showed we might soon need new tires and brakes. She was probably laying the groundwork for my next visit. The service advisor then escorted me to the cashier's window and then, after paying, to my car. Lots of personal service! In the theme of this blog's title I would categorize this as "The Good" part of my service visit.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: We Called Tire Rotation Before the Car Did

July 12, 2011

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Editor Al Austria already posted about our 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo's plea for a tire rotation but we could have told you that when we had the car for 4th of July weekend. Editor JayKav was checking the tires during a pit stop and noticed our front tires (pictured above). "It's going to need a tire rotation soon," he remarked. Sure enough, the next day when we started the car the "tire rotation" warning message lit up. Well, now that it's official and stuff....

Not that we have in this case, but have you ever taken your car in to be maintained/fixed before it asked to be?

Here's the rear tire.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Do Not Use

July 11, 2011

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OK already. Our long-term 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo is now reminding us with every start up that it would like to be serviced with an oil change and tire rotation.

We'll take it in as soon as possible.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 8,650 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Time for Service

June 21, 2011

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This morning on my way to work -- just as the Optima ticked past 7,500 miles -- the display in the instrument panel flashed the two images you see here.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo : Almost Ready for Service #1

June 14, 2011

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Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Back-Up Camera Failure

June 13, 2011

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It's happened to me twice in the last two weeks. Throw the Optima in reverse and the screen which displays the view from the back-up camera goes blank. And here's the weird part: It seems to appear before I can grab my camera and snap a photo. Sometimes it's ten seconds and sometimes it's 30 seconds.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Oh Yea, The Seat is Fixed, Too

June 10, 2011

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Remember this? If not, here's a refresher. It was an ugly mar on our first month with the Optima. But it's been solved...

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Reflash Fixes Dash Lights

June 10, 2011

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Well, they're working consistently now. I've been driving the Optima for a week now (OK, except for one day). More importantly, I've probably put more miles on this car than anyone and I'm yet to experience the problem.

If you've forgotten what it was...make the jump.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: 5,000 Miles

April 27, 2011

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We've only had our 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo for about two months and have racked up 5,000 miles on it. Sure, that includes a trip to Vegas, but still.

No real issues with the car, except that seat thing. Otherwise, we're enjoying it lots.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 5,011 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Illumination Restored

April 01, 2011

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My uber-reboot worked! The lights are back on inside our 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo after I disconnected and reconnected the negative cable from the battery. Ten seconds with a 10mm wrench was all it took. The photos don't to it justice on account of my utter lack of a tripod, but you get the idea.

Incidentally, the steering wheel illumination is dimmer on purpose; a little goes a long way when something is close to your face. This level is fine at nighttime. You wouldn't want those buttons to glow as hard as the ones in the background.

So this was a reboot issue. Lest you think this is a Kia problem, remember that we've seen reboot-related electronic issues before in a half-dozen or more cases. At one point I was keeping track, but that Excel file disappeared two laptops ago.

A partial list includes the time the stereo went out in the Cadillac CTS. And then there was the BMW 750i that set something like 200 fault codes in one go and wouldn't move. There have been other examples covering other brands. No one, it seems, is immune.

To me this is a side-effect of the increasing role of software/firware code running behind the scenes in our vehicles. Our computers and smartphones get bug fixes, patches, reflashes and updates all the time and we don't even blink.

For me, that's not acceptable in a car. A car feels like hardware, not software, and I don't like having to hit the reset button. Let's hope this doesn't happen again...and again.

Also, get off my lawn. ;)

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 4,004 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: The Dark Night

April 01, 2011

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All was well, then it wasn't. Our 2011 Kia Optima's interior lighting has gone AWOL.

Note how the IP and nav screen are stuck on full daytime bright mode while the center stack, steering wheel and door panel switches are dark -- also daytime mode, come to think of it.

It's just the lighting, mind you; all of the buttons work properly once I find them with the dome light.

And the dimmer seems to work. Its bar graph advances from "min" to "max" when I press the switch, but the lighting itself doesn't actually change. No fuses appears to be blown and the situation is no different with headlights set to "on" or "auto". It's as if the thingie that detects daylight is convinced the sun is still up and won't hear otherwise.

So I tried the patented PC reboot solution -- turn it off and turn it on again -- but that didn't work.

Next I'm going to try the uber PC method -- disconnect the battery, wait a few beats, then reconnect it. I'll let you know if that does anything.

I'm open to any other bright ideas before we take it to the dealer, of course.

UPDATE: The battery disconnect procedure sucessfully reset the system.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 4,004 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Seat Issue

March 31, 2011

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Last week I drove our new long-term 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo for the first time. I enjoyed it. But I also noticed this issue with the driver's seat upholstory. It's already pulling up and as you can see the padding is showing. At the time I noticed the problem the car had on 3,320 miles on it. Not good.

By the way, today is opening day. Go Yanks.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Kia Optima in VA is:

$134 per month*
* Explanation
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