2012 Kia Optima Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Kia Optima

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Kia Optima Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 274 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 22/34 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

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.

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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What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

So far so good

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

I got my kia optima 2012 LX used. I thought it would make a great commute car i drive around 80 miles per day to and from work. I currently have 80,000 miles on my kia and so far it has been a joy .I do have some minor problems like the passager and rear windows cant be rolled up or down from the driver control panel ,r/s cigarette lighter does not work,inside temperature gauge quit working ,so i have to take it back to the dealer. The tires on the kia are very cheep and need to be replaced asap upon purchase. MPG is great i drive from Chicago to Indiana all highway miles and i spend no more than $ 55 per week on gas . I get complements on a look of the car all the time !!



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Update -- better than expectedd

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Optima EX 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

42,000 mile update. This car has been one of the most trouble-free and enjoyable cars we've ever owned. Still don't recommend the Nav unit, but I understand Kia changed it for 2013. Nexen tires are crap! We swapped them for Michellins at 30k. HUGE improvement in handling, quiet, and wet traction. We log our fuel usage and have averaged 25.53 mpg since new. About 80% of that was metro driving. We usually get 30-33 on road trips. Dealer service has been excellent. Had one issue with a burr on the steering gear. My wife didn't even notice it, but the dealer took care of it and provided a loaner. No hassles. Wish I could say the same for my Ford truck dealer.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Ran great for 2 years

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Optima SX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

For the most part I love this car. If I keep it at 80 or under on the freeway it can get 31-33 mpg. City mpg around 22. The battery died one month after the warranty expired and my fuel pump just went out...luckily I got it to the shop before I was stranded and it is still under warranty.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Update: review 2012 kia optima

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Optima SX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

This is an update to my past review. I have 67,000 (2.5 yrs old) miles on my car- and I want to get rid of it now. I'm very disappointed in this car now. (I previously gave it 4 stars) but reliability trumps here. This car has now left me stranded in a parking lot twice because it wouldn't start. Stuck on the side of the freeway due to a failed fuel pump which is apparently common, but Kia won't pay for the replacement. Without a working turbo more than a few times. The leather is not real - and has started cracking despite meticulous care. Battery died at 2.25 yrs and this is also "the norm" for this car. Having to tow my 'new' car to the dealership on a flatbed was less than fun.




12 sx turbo

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Kia Optima SX 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)

I have owned the 12 SX Turbo for about a week now. I just traded in a 10 Dodge Charger SXT 3.5 due to early trans failure :(. it killed me. However, i am LOVING the Optima SX TURBO.. very good MPG's for a turbo engine. I do about 90% city driving and I average about 25.5 MPG's. Going from a charger to an optima is quite a large jump but I couldn't be happier. I am still on my first tank of cause. With the calculations, I should end up with about 415-420 on this tank. I do not drive like a grandma either .. lol.




What else did kia decide

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

We leased this car in 2012 and as of 2014 we find out that KIA decided to make OE tires that are only 30k tires! So now we have a leased car that we are having to replace the tires on before we return the lease. What are your thoughts America? Would you buy a car from a company that has no more concern for their customers than that? Also I am wondering what else KIA decided to cut corners on??



Talk About The 2012 Optima

Read more about the 2012 Kia Optima

Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 22
  • cty
/
  • 34
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
Reliability

Identifix Reliability Ratings

Rating unavailable for this vehicle

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