2012 Kia Optima Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Kia Optima

Kia Optima Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 200 hp @ 6300 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 24/35 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2012 Kia Optima

  • The 2012 Kia Optima is one of our top picks for a midsize sedan. With evocative styling, a long list of features and enjoyable driving dynamics, it's easy to see why.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Powerful and fuel-efficient engines; good ride/handling balance; handsome cabin; copious features; top crash scores; impressive value; lengthy warranty.

  • Cons

    Can be tight on headroom; disappointing real-world fuel economy and driving experience for hybrid; numb steering.

  • What's New for 2012

    For 2012, the Kia Optima receives the optional Uvo voice command system on all but the base models and a minor shuffling of features between trim levels and option packages. The front seats have also been slightly reshaped for improved comfort.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (8 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

A good buy with a

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Vehicle: 2012 Kia Optima LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

I bought a new 2012 Kia Optima LX in Snow White Pearl back in May 2012. Originally I had an issue with the driver's seat not being very comfortable. (I didn't notice this in the short test drive.) In the 9 months I've owned it, my butt seems to have gotten used to it. The acceleration is great! So good that if the roads are slick, I have to put it in ECO mode so the tires don't slip. This may also says something about the OEM Nexen tires. I haven't been driving much so far- only 4700 miles. (Try to walk/bike as much as I can). MPG per tank is 22-27 with an avg 24.5 . As expected, mileage is lower in the cold winter months. No long trips yet - can't wait to see what I'll get then!



1 of 5 people found this review helpful

Bad engine- gas hog! :(

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Vehicle: 2012 Kia Optima LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

I bought my Optima in the fall of 2012. It has had engine work done 3 times. Kia refused to take the car back. Full engine was replaced on third trip in... Great looking car- but gas mileage is WAYYY lower then advertised. I got rid of my SUV to save money on gas. I'm now getting the same if not less mpg with this car. If I do not keep "ECO" option on I actually have gotten as low as just over 11 mpg. HORRIBLE. Not even a turbo... Can't say I'd recommend a Kia to anyone I know.




Good car good mpg

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Vehicle: 2012 Kia Optima LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

A great looking car with good mpg, lots of standard features, fairly good ride, average 31.7 mpg so far, 30% city 70% hwy driving. Nexen tires are average at best



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Good car and mpg

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Vehicle: 2012 Kia Optima LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

Had the optima 1 month, have put on a 1000 miles, has total of 21432 miles now. comfort fairly good, I am 6'2. I think the car looks great. Can fit 4 adults, 5 would be a tight fit. A lot of talk about poor mpg. I drive 40 miles a day. 30 miles on hwy and 10 a day in the city(Lawrence, Ks.)I average 32 mpg so far. So no complaints here,,,...



4 of 5 people found this review helpful

Love love love

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Vehicle: 2012 Kia Optima LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

I've had this car (used) for nearly 3 months and I'm having a love affair! I drive almost 70 miles round trip a day and I average 36-38 hwy mpg (32 mpg overall). Anyone who says they get lower milage needs to press their "Eco" button and set their cruise control. My neighbor bought an Accord about the same time and while he gets a few more mpg, no one turns their head when he pulls into the parking lot at work. Speaking of work, we get 4 adults into my Optima when we go to lunch and no one complains about room (also can't be said for his Accord).



4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Disappointed

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Vehicle: 2012 Kia Optima LX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

Poor gas mileage especially in the city. Under 16 mpg avg(mostly city) Never been gentler on a car(BORING) can't get it get anywhere near rated mileage. Dealer no help. Sirrus radio sounds awful when using Sirrus. I leased this vehicle expecting to save on fuel consumption. This low mileage is hitting hard at $4 a gallon. When researching I saw the low mileage warnings and bought into break in in period malarkey. Not true, got worse. If it weren't for the poor gas mileage. I would give it high ratings. I like most everything else.



Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 24
  • cty
/
  • 35
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Kia Optima Review

What's New for 2012

For 2012, the Kia Optima receives the optional Uvo voice command system on all but the base models and a minor shuffling of features between trim levels and option packages. The front seats have also been slightly reshaped for improved comfort.

Introduction

There was a time, not long ago, when the term "family sedan" was associated with sensible -- but dull -- vehicles. While these volume-selling cars occupied a large chunk of sales, they likely weren't the object of desire. Once in a while, though, a sedan like the 2012 Kia Optima comes along that makes you want it for more reasons than just how sensibly it transports your family.

The 2012 Kia Optima sees few changes from last year, and that suits us just fine. Compared to other family sedans, the Optima is a styling standout, with a level of aggression and modernity inside and out that we're accustomed to seeing in much more expensive cars. Thankfully, this beauty is also more than skin deep, as the Optima also benefits from a better-than-average ride quality and driving dynamics.

Buyers can choose among a mild 200-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, a more potent, 274-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter or the efficient Optima Hybrid model that averages better than 30 mpg in combined driving. And as with other Kias, there's also a lot of value here, with plenty of standard and optional features (including Kia's new Uvo voice command system), an attractive price, long warranty coverage and top safety scores.

The Optima isn't perfect. Headroom may be an issue for some and it's not quite the sport sedan its styling would indicate. We've also found that the hybrid doesn't match its lofty EPA estimates and its advanced components do not operate as smoothly as competing hybrids. But overall this is still a great sedan. Along with the related Hyundai Sonata and new Volkswagen Passat, the regular Optima stacks up very favorably against the venerated Honda Accord and greatly improved new Toyota Camry. To put it simply, the 2012 Kia Optima may be an object of desire, but it's still a sensible family sedan as well.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Kia Optima is a midsize sedan available in five trim levels: LX, EX, EX Turbo, SX and Hybrid.

Standard equipment on the LX (with manual transmission) includes 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, heated mirrors, full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat with power lumbar adjustment, air-conditioning, a cooled glovebox, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth, and a sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. Opting for an LX with the automatic transmission gets you alloy wheels, cruise control and the availability of the Convenience package, which consists of an eight-way power driver seat and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The EX comes standard with the Convenience package as well as 17-inch alloy wheels, LED taillights, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air vents, wood interior trim and leather upholstery. The EX Turbo gets a more powerful engine, bigger brakes and a different grille design. The SX is also turbocharged but has a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, a rear lip spoiler, unique bumper designs, steering-wheel paddle shifters and an upgraded trip computer. The Optima Hybrid is equipped similarly to the EX, though it has unique 16-inch alloy wheels, a rearview camera and cloth upholstery.

The Technology package (offered for all trims except the manual-equipped LX) adds a rearview camera, a navigation system and, on the LX, dual-zone climate control and rear air vents. The Premium package for the EX and SX adds a panoramic sunroof, a four-way power passenger seat, driver memory functions, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and an eight-speaker Infinity sound system with HD radio and the Uvo voice-activated electronics interface. On the EX and EX Turbo, this package also includes a heated steering wheel. The Hybrid's Premium Technology package effectively combines those two packages and also includes 17-inch wheels, xenon headlights, leather upholstery and the auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Powertrains and Performance

Powering the front-wheel-drive 2012 Kia Optima LX and EX models is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 200 hp and 186 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard on the LX, while a six-speed automatic is standard on this and all other Optimas. In California-emissions states, the Optima has a Super Ultra Low Emissions rating (versus Ultra-Low elsewhere) resulting in a lower power output of 192 hp and 181 lb-ft.

In performance testing, a loaded Optima EX in SULEV form went from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds -- the ULEV Optima will be a bit quicker, but either way, the car is on par with other vehicles in the class. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined regardless of transmission.

The EX Turbo and SX get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. These Optima Turbo models returned a quick 0-60-mph time of 6.5 seconds, along with an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 22/34/26. This is theoretically outstanding for a car with this much power, but as we've discovered in our long-term test of an Optima Turbo, your numbers won't come close to those if you frequently utilize that power.

The Kia Optima Hybrid is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with an electric motor and a six-speed automatic transmission. Combined power output peaks at 206 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration from zero to 60 mph requires 8.4 seconds, which is reasonably quick for a hybrid. The EPA estimates the Optima Hybrid fuel economy at 34/39/36 mpg.

Safety

Standard safety features on the 2012 Kia Optima include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, side airbags, side curtain airbags and hill start assist. A rearview camera is optional.

In government crash tests, the Optima earned a top five-star rating for overall safety performance, with five stars awarded for both overall frontal and side-impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Optima a top score of "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. In Edmunds brake testing, an Optima EX came to a stop from 60 mph in a class-average distance of 121 feet. The Hybrid and the sportier SX took a few feet more.

Interior Design and Special Features

First impressions of the 2012 Kia Optima's interior are exceptionally favorable. Where most other family sedans in this segment fall somewhere between sedate and bland, the Optima has a distinct European flair. And that should come as no surprise when you consider that Kia's chief designer used to work for Audi. While the Kia's interior isn't as sumptuous as an Audi's, there's an abundance of soft-touch materials, and any hard plastics are at least well textured. The Optima Hybrid's cabin is essentially the same, with a special gauge cluster that displays hybrid power flow and overall driving style efficiency.

This year, Kia's Uvo (pronounced "yoo-voh") electronics interface system is now available on all but the base LX trims. Similar to Ford's Sync system (both are powered by Microsoft), Uvo provides voice control of cell phones and MP3 players as well as other services such as turn-by-turn navigation. In our limited testing of Uvo, we found it to work quite well.

The Optima has a fairly spacious cabin with comfortable seats and a solid amount of legroom front and rear. Headroom (particularly in back) is a bit tight due to the car's rakish, coupelike roof line. Taller folks should definitely think twice about the optional panoramic sunroof, as it further decreases headroom. The Optima's 15.4 cubic feet of trunk space is about average for its class, but the hybrid's drops to a paltry 9.9 cubic feet because of its battery pack placement.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 Kia Optima's ride quality is comfortable without being isolating, but the same can't be said of its numb steering. Thankfully, the steering is at least firmer and more responsive than its more comfort-tuned Sonata cousin. Overall handling for the Optima is hardly memorable, due mostly to its conservative tire choice, but it's certainly pleasant and better than average for the segment.

Both of the regular four-cylinder engines are impressive. They produce best-in-class power and are paired with responsive and smooth-shifting transmissions. The potential for truly impressive fuel economy is an ample slab of icing on the cake.

Less impressive is the Optima Hybrid. Its electric motor makes accelerating from a dead stop a smooth affair, and at highway cruising speeds the electric motor can aid with quick bursts of acceleration that make the engine almost feel turbocharged. However, in low-speed driving or quickly changing traffic conditions, the hybrid shudders and lurches while deciding which gear it wants. It is similarly unpredictable under braking.

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