2012 Kia Optima Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Kia Optima Sedan

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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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (29 total reviews)


Used to love my 2012

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

2012 Optima looks great; however, on the first day after I bought it, I was driving on freeway (regular freeway speed) and I noticed intermittent wind noise coming in by the top of driver door. I hope it was something that could be fixed. Three dealer appointments (time wasted) one which was arranged by Kia Corporate their bottom line was "normal noise." I owned a Sentra, Accord, Maxima, Camry, and a Pathfinder (which am not counting) and NONE of the cars had this issue. Also, my MPG average is about 22 (Last tank - no change in driving conditions - I got 19+)... MPG was a major factor when I decided to buy this car.



10 of 10 people found this review helpful

Good in some aspects, still

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

Traded my '09 TSX for a '12 Optima SX. While there are tons of nice standard features, like the heated and cooled seats, the turbo, the push button start and the panoramic sunroof, it's easy to tell the trade-offs Kia sacrificed to appease the value conscious consumer. If you're a true car person who pays attention to details and spends a decent amount of time in the car, spend a little more and get a car from a manufacturer who figures out the details. The car has great power. It will go when you want it to. The tires are the weak point and you find that out with wet pavement. The mileage is less than what mfr states on the sticker and on the "ave mpg" show in the dash.



1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Wish i wouldn't have leased

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

If I had bought this car I could sell it & cut my losses on gas. Most everything is great about my 2013 Optima SXL 2.0 Turbo except that I average 16 mpg. No I don't drive it hard or fast. I get better mpg in my Chevy HD2500 4x4, 4gr, long bed diesel. If I was getting the advertised 22 mpg city I'd be happier. I hope there is such a thing a a break-in period to get the advertised mpg. I'd rather have my gutless 1.8L Toyota Matrix that gets great gas mileage at this point in time. The low ratings are all about the mpg.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Extremely satisfied

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

I purchased this car new in November 2011 and now have just over 12,000 miles on it. It's been flawless so far. Not a single issue. Averaging 30mpg under all conditions. I can't say that about any of the previous Audi A4's I've owned--which were far more costly when comparing feature for feature. Great performance with the 2.0 turbo, plus excellent fuel economy for a sedan of this size--on regular unleaded.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Great 4 door sports car

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

I had 3 Land Rovers in a row and was tired of 12 - 14 mpg fuel economy in the city. This Kia Rocks on mileage, I average 22- 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg or even higher on the highway. I live in Texas so it's very flat here and I'm sure that helps. At first I would do my own calculations for fuel economy bu ditched that after I realized dash computer was on the money. I have two children, both in car seats and there is plenty of room in the back seat for them. The doors open very wide so it's easy to get them in and out. I love all the features, the seats are comfortable, and the price is outstanding for all that you get. I got a loaded one for under $30k after lots of negotiation.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Really fun to drive

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

2.5mths and almost 3k miles, I am still enjoying my Spicy Red Optima. (Midlife crisis? Maybe) After over 7yrs in a Chevy Equinox, off the showroom floor, that I soon came to loathe, that's an understatement. I had a Lexus in mind, but the SX blew me away. Kia has come a long way from their 'buy one get one free days'.



Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 22
  • cty
/
  • 34
  • 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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