Makes A Good First Impression - 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo Long-Term Road Test

2011 Kia Optima Long-Term Road Test

2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Makes A Good First Impression

March 30, 2011

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I spent yesterday running around doing work-related errands in our 2011 Kia Optima SX turbo. Count me in the camp that thinks this is the best-looking midsize sedan out there right now. Many of my fellow road-goers seemed to agree.

But how does it drive? Here's a quick rundown of my first impressions:

Engine: There's plenty of wallop for a mainstream sedan; I don't bemoan the lack of a V6 one bit. In town it feels plenty quick because its torque peak of 269 lb-ft arrives at 1,750 rpm and it builds quickly right off idle. Because of that, I was expecting...

Torque Steer: There is a tad, but not nearly as much as I figured given the available thrust. It never called attention to itself when I was just driving and I didn't find an annoying amount when I went out of my way to look for it.

Steering: At low speed it seems a bit friction-y and heavy for heavy's sake. At freeway cruising speeds it feels pretty good, if not slightly detached. For this I don't blame the steering so much as the tires. There doesn't seem to be much there there, and by that I mean sidewall stiffness and initial turn-in precision, which may be why...

Ride Comfort: ...is pretty good. It's not overly soft or spongy, but it isn't gritty and hard, either. The Optima SX gives off a sporty vibe without drilling holes in your backside.

Tech: Bluetooth hands-free, Bluetooth streaming, iPod integration; this stuff works well and the touch-screen interface is easy to figure out and use. My iPhone's phonebook auto-downloaded, but the voice commands for phone dialing more stilted than usual, however, and I had to say names last-name-first. At least the correct command options are shown for each step on the screen.

Extras: My wife wants you to know the seat heaters/coolers are much appreciated, and she likes that they self-cancel when the key is removed. The big glass moonroof works well, but I wish for a detent that allows me to easily stop it at the full-tilt position; if I don't intervene at just the right moment it goes too far and commences the complete moonroof-open procedure.

All in all, I like driving this Kia in this sort of environment. This one is staying on my short list.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 4,004 miles


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