A Day of Driving - 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo Long-Term Road Test

2011 Kia Optima Long-Term Road Test

2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: A Day of Driving

December 14, 2011


A few weeks ago I felt like driving. It was Saturday. Wife and kids were off doing wife and kids stuff. The sun was shining. And I had the keys to our long-term Kia Optima SX Turbo. Destination Malibu.

If you live on the westside of L.A. and you want to drive, you head for Malibu. The famed Pacific Coast Highway makes for great starters. But the real destinations are the less traveled canyon roads that snake their way endlessly through the Santa Monica Mountains. Roads named Stunt, Piuma and Latigo. You can be up there flogging for hours without seeing another car. Days without driving the same route twice.

Sure, I would have rather been in our long-term 5.0 Mustang or NSX, but the Optima turned out to be a pretty good dance partner. I still think it needs better tires and a bit more front end grip (maybe better rubber will fix that), but I was smiling most of the time and the car was enjoying it. I discovered the Optima's need for a little trailbraking and its ability to spin a tire on corner exit if you jump on the accelerater harder than you really should. I also was impressed with its brakes. Sure, I could have cooked them if I really wanted to, but at 8-10th they were happy and heat resistent. And its steering feels better in the hills than it does in the city.

At the end of the run, back on PCH southbound toward the sprawl, I had a new found respect for the Kia sedan with the pretty face. It had earned it the old fashioned way.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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