2011 Kia Optima SX: Fun To Drive?
August 10, 2011
I took our Optima out for a back road drive today. Mostly, I was interested to see how it handled. I already like the rest of the car, so having some sporting credentials would just be icing on the cake. Could this be Kia's four-door sports car?
To its credit, the Optima SX has more talent than many other family sedans. You can hustle it around corners at a decent clip. The SX's firmer suspension tuning probably helps here. And if you want to get to the next corner quickly, the Optima's turbocharged engine will certainly oblige.
Knocking the Optima back a couple notches, though, is that there's just not much involvement for the driver. The steering is numb, giving no indication on what's going on at the front tires. Grip from the Nexen 225/45R18 tires is OK, put pile into a low-speed corner and the tires quickly protest and the stability control system cuts in. You'll know more by listening in to the tires than anything the steering might communicate to you.
Overall, I'd call the Optima SX a "sporty" sedan rather than a sport sedan. The styling promises a bit more than what the car actually delivers. I wish we had an Altima V6, a Ford Fusion Sport or a Mazda 6 V6 around for a direct comparison test. Going on memory, I suspect all have better steering.
But pitted against a curvy road, the Optima holds its own. And considering the car's many other positive attributes, it's still one of my favorites.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor