2011 Kia Optima Long-Term Road Test - Miscellaneous

2011 Kia Optima Long-Term Road Test

2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Sibling Rivalry

February 23, 2012

Kia Optima at The Cosmopolitan.jpg

There appears to be a rivalry developing between Kia and its sister brand/parent Hyundai. Kia is going head-to-head with Hyundai across several vehicles in its model line, with the latest instance being the recent announcement of the Kia KH/K9 based on the Genesis platform.

However, the best example of this is the Kia Optima and its sibling the Hyundai Sonata.

Kia has recently been advertising the daylights out of the Optima, including a big promotion with Clippers basketball star Blake Griffin and a superbowl ad with supermodel Adriana Lima.

And most people think the Optima's styling is better and its coolness factor higher compared to Sonata.

With all that you would think that the Optima is committing spectacular sororicide on the Sonata.

To borrow a phrase from The Terminator, "Wrong."

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2011 Kia Optima and 2012 Volvo S60: Numbers and Non-Numbers

February 06, 2012


I was at a Super Bowl party this weekend. Between mouthfuls of corn chips and guacamole, a fellow attendee who knows what I do for a living asked me what I was driving. I told him an S60. He asked how it was. I replied that it's a nice sedan -- drives well, pretty comfortable, has a lot of features. "How much?" he asked. "Well, our car is loaded up. But mid 30s would be more typical," I said.

He nodded his head. Then he asked: "So why would somebody get an S60 when they could just get a loaded Optima instead?"

Super Bowl advertising influence, perhaps? But it's a good question.

Here's a quick chart of a 2012 Optima EX Turbo and a 2012 Volvo S60 T5.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: The Ultimate Male Fantasy

January 18, 2012


When you dream about the Kia Optima at night, does it look like this in your head? For its new Super Bowl ad, Kia will be playing up the male fantasy angle. The Optima sedan will race around a track while rock band Motley Crue provide the soundtrack with their song "Kickstart My Heart." Mixed martial arts fighter Chuck Liddell will make an appearance somehow and Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima is the flag girl.

"As we're dreaming at night, our true desires come out," Michael Sprague, Kia Motors America head of marketing and communications was quoted as saying in USA Today.

I dunno. Maybe it's because I'm a girl, but none of the above comes to mind when I get behind the wheel of our 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo. Has Kia hit the mark with you guys? Or is it just all too surreal?

The ad will start airing in movie theaters on February 3rd and run during game day on the 5th.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Seamless

January 03, 2012


Something about this angle of the Optima reminds me of the first-generation Acura TSX. Maybe the Optima's electric blue paint looks similar to a shade offered on those early TSXs. Or maybe it's the banded headlights and wide, tapering hood profile. Whatever it is, this is a flattering pose for the Optima. Rest of the car isn't bad either, but except for the honeycomb grille and handlebar moustache chrome trim motif, this is a sharp, aggressive look.

Having spent the holiday weekend driving around in the Optima, I could see buying one myself. I didn't get this impression the few times I'd driven it home for one-night stands. But after getting to know one another better, I think the Optima hits the right notes, from the mundane to the adrenal.

I like the keyless entry/thumb-button lock and unlock, and push-button start. Keep the key in your pocket (smaller fob would be good), easy. Likewise, keep the smartphone in pocket and stream your music, or wire the phone in and control menus and playlists from the touchscreen.

I'm down on touchscreens at the moment, the Optima no exception. Smudgy fingerprints, bleached out when the sun's overhead or behind, just plain distracting: I hope they go away. Dial-and-screen controllers I can get behind; you still need to pull your eyes from the road, but only to see and confirm an input, and not to also guide your finger to a point on the display. Perhaps with time you can intuitively learn where things are on a touchscreen, and the Optima performs better than many in this regard, with its display's big, blocky tabs and buttons. Still, down with the touchscreen.

I like that climate and audio controls still use buttons and knobs. The steering wheel's a little too button-happy, but there's a trend no one's likely to reverse. Like that there's ample storage in the side pockets, glovebox and deep center console with an elevated tray for a wallet stacked fat with Washingtons. Ah yeah, Jack In the Box Jumbaco value, coming for you, baby. Had no issues with the seats, although couple of the other editors have said they don't stand up to long hauls.

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2011 Kia Optima Turbo: Why Do I Like This Color?

December 23, 2011

Kia Optima with Jays Hat.jpg

Gee, why on Earth do I like our Optima's color so much? I can't think of any Earthly reason.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor, Canadian

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Straighten Up

December 12, 2011


Our Kia Optima briefly warns its driver (at start up) if its front wheels are pointed askew and in what direction. Is this really necessary? Won't it become obvious the moment the car begins to move? The only other time I've seen this was in a Land Rover (and Porsche Cayenne?) as an off-road assist screen.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 15,468 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: You call that a badge?

December 11, 2011


I've always held that good design doesn't cost more than poor design. This applies to an entire exterior design as well as something as simple as a badge. Badges stand for something. They're the ambassadors of the company that built them. They're the "jewelry" or accessories for the car and say something about the vehicle's purpose, place, or even worth. What does the Kia badge say to you?Here are a few badges I've snapped over the past year or so. Of course, there are a bunch more I should have/could have included, but these few should illustrate some differences.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 15,372 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Now With Hamster Drive

December 06, 2011

hamster drive.jpg

I went to the LA Auto Show during the public days and stood in a short line at the Kia display, ostensibly for an autograph from golfer Michelle Wie. (Kia is a sponsor of the LPGA, including the Kia Classic tourney, March 19-25 in Carlsbad, Calif.) But my real reason was to get this hip-hop hamster.

I know that he belongs in a Soul, but there wasn't one available to take home last night.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @15,318.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: What Will You Pay?

December 01, 2011

Kia Optima with Bow.jpg

This is not our long term 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo even though it is the same color. I took this picture in the Kia of Cerritos show room yesterday while I was waiting for an oil change. This baby had a sticker price of $30,000. If you're so excited by the giant bow on top, and you're thinking of buying this for someone for Christmas, the True Market Value price is only $300 under the sticker price. Not much of a discount, although you could probably get a better price by going through the internet department.

Everyone on staff loves the Optima, and I really enjoyed my two nights behind the wheel. In the past, when you thought about a Kia, you assumed you would get a bargain. This car has a lot of value for the money but the price ain't cheap.

Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 15,193 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: New Seat Design for 2012

November 23, 2011


At the LA Auto Show last week I ran into Michael Sprague, Kia's VP of marketing and public relations. Michael's fun to talk to and is part of the team engineering the current success of Kia.

Eventually the conversation wandered to our long-term Optima SX Turbo. I expressed our affinity for the car, but told Michael we felt it needed better tires. His expression told me he had heard that criticism before. But then he told me that the Optima was getting a long list of improvements for 2012.

Sadly new tires aren't coming, but the entry-level LX trim will come with standard chrome-accented exterior door handles, foglights, heated outside mirrors and automatic headlights. The EX model will get standard LED taillights as well. Silver wheel caps replace the black caps on all 16- and 17-inch wheels.

Inside, the Optima receives a revised center fascia finish, and the EX sedan gets new wood and metal trim. Kia has also removed the Infinity audio system from the Technology package, and will include the eight-speaker Infinity system, the Uvo in-car hands-free entertainment and communication system package, HD radio and power-folding outside mirrors in the Premium package instead.

Sprague also told me that the seats have been redesigned for 2012 to respond to customer feedback. They'll have a little more shape and a softer foam. I've never had issue with the seats in our 2011 Optima, but we'll sample the 2012 seats soon and report our impressions.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Anything We Missed?

November 11, 2011


We've had our 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo for over nine months now and I feel like everything that could possibly be blogged about it has been. Suffice it to say, I get the car for the weekend and still appreciate its passing power, technology, seat heaters, interior materials quality, looks, etc. And yes, I would gladly choose it as a road trip car.

Now, is there anything that we haven't covered on it that you'd like to know about? We've done an audio review, how it fits five people, service reviews, and passenger seat impressions. What else?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Quiet Ride Technology

November 08, 2011


I remember when wind vanes like this first started popping up on BMWs not too long ago. The engineers claimed that the small bumps smoothed the airflow around the mirror housing which helped to keep wind noise down. We took their word on it since the Edmunds wind tunnel was down for maintenance at the time.

Since then, this feature has been added to countless new cars and sure enough those cars have little to no wind noise coming off their side mirrors. In the Optima, it's just one of many small things that make this a very comfortable cruiser. Tire noise is still a little bit more prominent that it should be, but even that is barely loud enough to be annoying. Combined with the fact that it can drop a gear and pass just about anything in a matter of seconds, the Optima is very enjoyable on the highway.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Terrible Tires

November 07, 2011


Whenever I drive our long-term Kia Optima SX Turbo I think about its tires. Specifically how terrible they are. To me, this car always feels like its a good set of tires away from being really good.

But as it comes from Kia wearing these Nexen Classe Premiere CP662 all-season things, it rides a little rougher than it should and it stops, steers and turns like it's wearing bottom basement buy three get one free rubber from Costco.

Honestly I'd never heard of Nexen tires until yesterday when I took the above photo. I know nothing about the brand and I know nothing about the quality of Nexen's products. But I do know when a good car feels like it's being held back by bad tires, and the Kia Optima SX Turbo is a classic case of good car bad rubber.

Funny, some of our staff members have noticed this before. When we took the Optima to the test track back in February test driver Chris Walton wrote in his notes, "Where's the grip? Nexen tires make the Optima feel like it's trying to turn on ice." He later went on to call the tires slippy and said they overheat and get greasy within a few runs through the slalom. He also said the tires felt slippery in the braking runs from 60 mph.

Meanwhile the performance test numbers are lukewarm for a sedan wearing sizable, low profile 225/45R18 inch rubber. It pulled a .80g around the skidpad and ran through the slalom at 62.7 mph. It also stopped from 60 mph in 125 ft. Not embarrassing by a long shot, but I'm curious what it could do with better shoes. And I'm not talking about Summers either, just a good, quality all-season ultra high-performance tire like these. I'm not sure, but maybe Nexen's own ultra high-performance all-season tire called the N6000 would even be better.

Then there's the Optima's ride. This car always feels like it rides rougher than it should. Like there's 90 psi in the tires. It crashes over stuff instead of absorbing the impacts. Again, probably the tires.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: You've Come a Long Way

October 18, 2011


When I first saw the current-generation Optima in the flesh, I was blown away. What's really impressive to me, though, is how far the model's design has progressed over the last decade. It's gone from bland to hurl-inducing and black to bland in a fairly short period. Click through to see what I mean.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Looks Like...?

October 10, 2011

kia optima rear.jpg

It's always fun when people try to guess what kind of car you're driving and guess wrong. It can also be quite telling; if your economy car gets mistaken for a luxury car, then your car's designers are probably doing something right.

So a couple nights ago, a guy and his girl are walking their dog past our parked Optima. They see the car from the angle shown above. Any guesses as to which make and model they mistook the car for? Answer after the jump.

The Optima's already been mistaken for a BMW; this time it was mistaken for an Audi A4 (shown below). What do you think? See any resemblance?

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Door Sill

September 15, 2011

kia optima door sill.jpg

If you remember the Kias of yesteryear, you'll appreciate the irony of seeing the Kia name emblazoned on something as fancy-pants as a door sill.

In any case, it's a nice touch, and just one of the things that makes the Optima feel a little bit more special than its low price tag suggests.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Kia Optima Turbo: Missing Light Pipes

September 14, 2011


Back when the good folks at Kia stopped by our offices with a pre-production Optima Turbo, I spotted some LED running lights that lined the bottom section of the headlights. But the final production model didn't have them.

The model they showed us had cool running lights, too. They weren't the typical pare LED elements. Instead, they were evenly diffused throughout something that resembled a glass tube. They were also a cool blue color instead of pure white.

But now I'm wondering if these running lights are really cool anymore.

What do you think? With, or without?

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: The Power to Surprise

September 13, 2011


I noticed this slogan on our Kia Optima's license plate frame today. It does a nice job of summing up people's reaction to this car. Just about everyone who sees the Optima likes it, but are surprised when I tell them it is a Kia. I have to admit that this car surprised me too. Like many people, I had this preconceived notion of what a Kia is supposed to be like -- generic styling and boring driving dynamics. But this Optima is the opposite of that. It looks great and has plenty of power to get by traffic and have some fun on the commute home.

The price of our test car -- $30,840 -- surprises people too. "$31K for a Kia?" they tell me. I remind them that this car is loaded with options and that if they don't opt for the turbo, they can get one for a starting price of $18,995.

Does this car surprise you too?

Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 11,591 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Most Gorgeous $20K Car?

September 06, 2011

kiaoptimaturbo 014.jpg

Men's magazine Esquire named the 2011 Kia Optima the Most Gorgeous Car Under $20K in its Design and Technology Awards. Sounds like quite an accolade until you consider other under-$20K cars. Kind of a gimme, no? But what car (in the same price range) would you have picked as more "gorgeous" than the Optima? Suzuki Kizashi? Mazda 3?

(For the record, our Kia Optima SX Turbo in the above photo is $30K.)

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: A Unique Warning

August 22, 2011


Here's one I've never seen before. Fire up the Optima with the wheel turned past some unknown angle and you'll get this warning in the instrument cluster.

I noticed it for the first time this weekend when I jumped in the car after a quick run through the grocery store. Apparently I was in a big enough hurry to leave the wheels turned when I parked. The warning appears immediately after the "sytem check" progress bar dissappears during startup (if the wheels are turned enough).

I'm not the type to commit seriously to the throttle before I have some idea where the wheels are pointing, but I can see this warning saving someone from a collision in a very tight parking lot -- if they notice it.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Kia Optima SX: Rescues a Stranded Sorento

August 12, 2011


It's your typical hero fantasy as a guy: you encounter a stranded motorist on the side of the freeway. She's run out of gas and would be eternally grateful for your help. Conveniently, you just happen to have a gas can with you.

This happened yesterday. Well, sort of. Actually, it was my wife who was driving the 2012 Kia Sorento and ran it dry. It's a new company car for her. "I think I ran out of gas," she says on the initial cell phone call to me. Of course, I'm flabbergasted. I asked her what happened. Turns out she had been driving around for the past couple days with the low-fuel warning light on. She thought she still had enough gas left based on experiences with her previous vehicle (a Borrego). Well, lesson learned, dear.

Thankfully she wasn't too far from where I was. I got my gas can from my house, filled it with gas and then found where she was on the freeway. I was reminded on how roadside repairs on the freeway (filling gas, changing a tire) are just no fun when semi trucks are whizzing by. I was happy to fill up and get out of there.

It was nice having the Optima for this. There wasn't really room on the shoulder to getting a running start, so I had to just pull out and wood it. The turbo-4 had the beans to quickly get me up to speed. If I had been in our slow-poke Fiat 500, I would have been more concerned.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2011 Kia Optima SX: I'd Bring One Home

August 08, 2011


To be honest, the last few departed family sedans in our fleet have been a little disappointing. The Honda Accord V6 was roomy and comfortable, but it just seemed a tad too big. I couldn't connect with the Mazda 6; the four-cylinder engine just didn't do it any favors. The Fusion Hybrid is actually pretty cool, and our Hyundai Sonata was very good. But a car I'd actually buy for myself? I'd have to go back to our Nissan Altima V6.

Well, the Kia Optima has joined the Altima and Fusion on my "I'd buy it" list. This sedan gets just about everything right. It's comfortable and roomy. It looks cool. There's plenty of grunt from the turbo-4 as well as high fuel economy. And, of course, you get plenty of value and features for your dollar.

One thing I'm hoping to do this week is give the Optima a quick shakedown on a curvy road. The Altima was pretty fun in this regard -- I'm not so sure about the Optima given what we wrote in our full test. But I'm still looking forward to it.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 10,094 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Where Is the Love?

August 03, 2011

Optima SX-where is the love.jpg

It doesn't show up here, but boy, there's a lot of venom about Kia (and Hyundai) out there in autolandia.The hating showed up this week on the Edmunds Facebook page, which featured a link to our road test of the Kia Optima Hybrid. (Capsule review: Car does not deliver mpg as EPA tested. Not even close.)

One commenter went off on how unsafe, bad and unreliable Kia (and Hyundai) vehicles are. My colleague, Ron Montoya, who wrote the road test, countered with the truth: The Kia Optima (hybrid and conventional engine) has a five-star safety rating from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It's also a Top Safety Pick in the ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Every time I've driven the Optima, it's been a great experience. I also liked our estwhile Sonata, although it was a lot less fun to drive than the Optima. So tell me, why so much Kia/Hyundai hate?

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @9,762 miles

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2011 Kia Optima: Cleaning the Wheels

August 01, 2011


Modern wheels can be so fancy. But fancy makes them hard to clean. The wheels on our Kia Optima are pretty snazzy but they are also fairly flat. So, they are easy to clean.

Monday is wash day at Edmunds. The nice guys at our local car wash made the Kia wheels shine with ease.

Here's a closer look.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Seeking the Benchmark

July 26, 2011


One of the best things about this gig is the cognitive dissonance that comes with getting in and out of different cars every day. From baller to hauler to crapcan, the impressions come quick and fleeting. Some stick, and yet others reveal themselves slowly with reflection. They're all tricky to keep straight.

After spending a couple of days in a new E350 Bluetec diesel, then an evening in the Optima, a few things stood out. This isn't a comparison; how could it be? No one expects our $31,000 Optima to match the E350, which costs about $20,000 more. But there are some lessons the next two or more generations of Optima could incorporate from the Stuttgart legacy.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Oh, They're Out There...

June 24, 2011


Perhaps you read Kelly's riveting account of the lack of Kias on the roads in Socal. We'll, it just happens that I exchanged nods with the driver of another Optima Turbo this morning on my way to work. Did the same thing last weekend.

So they're out there. And, in Orange County, the Optima Turbo seems to have caught on. I see one every few days. This Satin Metal Optima is more striking than our Corsa Blue example in person. And that's saying something.

Oh, and speaking of color...

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Where are all the Kias?

June 24, 2011


I drove 72 miles on the 405 freeway yesterday, spent time in both L.A. and Orange counties.

And not once did I pass another Kia.

I counted 13 Hyundais, nearly a 50/50 mix of old and new, but not a single Kia.

It wouldn't surprise me in, say, Detroit, but in Southern California, I found it a little sad. Especially since Kia's headquarters is located in Orange County.

Is the new Hyundai that far ahead of the new Kia?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: A Lot For Your Money

June 20, 2011


I spotted this ad in the Orange County Register on Saturday. Sure, there's a lot of fine print going on here, but...

...even if the car advertised is only an EX Turbo (our car is the top-of-the-line SX Turbo), you're getting a lot for your money. The ad isn't specific about the trim level, but of course the picture is of an SX -- and it's a one-at-this-price deal. Still, the EX gets you the 2.0-liter turbo powertrain which makes this car such a killer value. The EX starts at $24,495 and the SX starts at $25,995. So if you walk out of the dealer with one of these cars for less than 20 grand you're doing well.

I'm not exactly a huge fan of the mid-size sedan, but I'll admit to truly liking the Optima. It meets my needs (four doors, decent power, intuitive bluetooth, good iPod interface) without being boring (Camry, Altima, Accord). And I'd actually buy one at that price.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Big Honkus, Little Ducting

June 06, 2011


After reading Jay Kav's engine walkaround, I was curious about the Optima's intake honkus which is precariously squeezed between the hood and the plastic trim surrounding the hood latch.

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2011 Kia Optima Turbo: A Splash of Color

June 01, 2011


As I drove home a few nights ago stuck on the 10, I began to watch traffic sailing by in the opposite direction. I said to myself, "Self, there is a complete lack of color on that freeway. Black, silver, grey, white, black, silver, grey, white." Eventually, a rare '99 Jetta in Cosmic Green broke up the greyscale monotony like Reese Witherspoon in Pleasantville.

Then last night, I began to notice a similar scenario -- only this time, I was the splash of color. Our Kia Optima Turbo not only breaks up the usual midsize car monotony with its slick styling, but our particular car's Corsa Blue paint (special to the SX trim) takes it that extra mile.

Frankly, I think it's a shame that color has almost completely disappeared from our roads. Car colors certainly change with the fashion of the times, and silvers, blacks, greys and whites are just fashionable at the moment. People could tire of them, just as they did of the purples and teals of the early '90s. But I also think that people pick today's non-colors because they percieve actual colors as being unsellable in five to six years. Perhaps there's some truth to that since I struggled to sell an Acura TSX in a similar shade as our Optima.

But I say, live for today. Buy that colorful car. Go Plum Crazy, get some Blue Candy or Spice Orange. Maybe even take a trip to Ipanema Blue. Be different, be colorful. Lets bring back the Imola Reds of this world, and banish the notion of five available shades of black.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 6,200 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Mistaken for a BMW

May 20, 2011


OK, it was dark outside, but my passenger last night said, "Oh, you have a BMW." Then he got in and said, "oh wait, what is this?"

Our Kia Optima is a nice looking car. But it was the blue paint and the wheels that fooled him more than anything else. And again, as I said, it was dark outside.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Suburban Dream

May 19, 2011

suburban dream.jpg

I spent a couple days recently in Palm Springs at Heels and Wheels, a driving event for women automotive journalists. It was great from start to finish, and I learned a lot from a very savvy group of writers, including Sue Mead, who this year became the first woman to achieve an in-class win in the Dakar Rally. She and co-driver Darren Skilton drove a Ford Raptor.

We had 11 cars to test-drive and I managed some time in all of them -- except for the 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid. It was a popular car among the event's drivers, and represented a good break from the many crossovers we were trying out. But I had sub-Optima timing and didn't get a turn.

Good things come to those who wait, however. When I returned to the office, the 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo was waiting for me on the sign-out sheet. (Turbo trumps hybrid any day, wouldn't you say?) The car does indeed rock, as this new Edmunds road test details. It even makes your pulse race when it's sitting under a jacaranda, pretending -- unsuccessfully -- to be a nice suburban sedan.

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @5,890 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: The Valet Dialogues

May 17, 2011


I always get a kick out of hearing what the valet folks think of the different cars I bring their way. They are exposed to so many types, especially high-end, fantastically luxurious cars, that I always assume there's not much that catches their eyes. In any case here's how last night went at a valet stand for a fancy restaurant in Santa Monica when I was picking up the 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo at the end of the night.

Me: "Um, that's not my car."

Valet (getting into a silver Lexus SUV):

"I had the Kia Optima...it's blue."

Valet: "Oh the BLUE one with the nice wheels. That's a nice one." (Goes away to fetch the car and returns with it.)

Valet: "Is this a hybrid?" (Getting out of the car.)

Two other valet guys circle around the back of the car, checking it out and murmuring, "It's niiice." (They say "nice" a lot.) "It's a Kia? No way."

Me: (Answering the first guy) "No, it has a turbo."

Valet: "Ohh yeahhh, it has a lot of power, I felt that when I was driving it..."

"Wait...just when you were driving around the garage?"

Valet: "....Thanks. Have a nice evening."

I checked the odometer. Josh reports it at "about 5,500 miles" in his post. Hm.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 5,765 miles

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Is There a Stigma?

May 06, 2011

Kia Optima Stigma.jpg

I've got a friend looking for a new car. Her parents had Camrys and her boyfriend's parents had Accords so both of those are out. She laughed-- hard -- when I said Buick Regal and said something to the tune of, "Not until I'm 95." Oh, and she won't buy domestic. So I said, "Kia Optima Turbo." I've reccomended the Optima to one other person who wound up buying a Forte (no idea what happened there) so I thought nothing of it.

1) It's quick. She likes acceleration. 2) It looks awesome. Seriously, look at that thing. 3) It meets all of her crazy criteria. 4) Warranty. 5) Look at that again. Rad.

Unfortunately, I was met with more laughter and a "$26k for a Kia? Why would I buy a Kia? I'm not in college anymore."

::sigh:: At that point I gave up and dismissed her opinions completely. She's got a boyfriend to figure that mess out.

But then last night when I was being sleuthy and shooting a 2012 911 Prototype, one of the engineers was openly mocking my Kia! Were it my car I would have had to step outside to defend her honor, but as it wasn't, I shrugged it off.

Still, the question is valid: Is there still a stigma -- despite solid products, higher prices and a good warranty-- about actually OWNING a Kia?

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor @ 5,112 Miles.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: My, What Sporty Wheels You Have

May 04, 2011

kia optima wheel.jpg

We've mentioned that the Optima's styling is much more assertive than that of its relative, the Sonata. It's there in the squared-off lines of the Kia's cabin, and in the broad and commanding shape of its sheet metal.

But to me, it's most obvious in our car's rims -- 18-inch alloys that come with the Optima SX. Those things look mean enough to win a fight. What do you think -- too much or just right?

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2011 Kia Optima: Every Basketball Fan's Favorite Car

April 26, 2011


So remember my friend ice cream shop Matt who was all about our Hyundai Equus' backseat? Well, I figured since he liked that one he'd be interested in our 2011 Kia Optima Turbo so before coming over I asked him if he wanted to see it. "Hell yeah! That's every basketball fan's favorite car," he replied excitedly. Since I'm not a basketball fan I didn't know that the Kia Optima is the "official vehicle of the NBA." Turns out basketball player Blake Griffin won a slam dunk contest by jumping over the parked Kia and slam dunking a ball.

See the video after the jump. It's pretty awesome.

In any case, Matt really liked the Optima Turbo, going on and on about how he loved the looks of it, including its wheels, and he was a fan of the bucket seats in the back. He was only bummed that at $30K it was out of his price range.

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo on a Racetrack

April 15, 2011


I don't know why but I thought for sure this video of Kia Racing team driver Nic Jonsson driving the 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo around the Palm Beach Raceway would be more exciting. Hm. Maybe it's just because I've been watching those LFA videos on Straightline too much. Where's the Stig when you need him?

Anyway, Jonsson says, "This car really feels like it belongs on a racetrack." He also gushes about the paddle shifters, chassis and the fact it doesn't have turbo lag. Considering the man races for Kia, take that for what it's worth. In our full test video of the Optima SX Turbo, we did note "some turbo lag and torque steer, but it's well-managed and not especially objectionable."

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2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Starting

April 04, 2011


After the jump, watch a video of the 2011 Kia Optima starting. It plays a little song and the dials do a dance.

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2011 Kia Optima Turbo: Aggressive Styling

March 29, 2011


Love at first sight? Yeah, I think so. The moment I saw the Optima in person, I was taken. The whole execution just says "solid" to me, and I really like that. Really. So here's my take on why I think it's the best looking midsize sedan.

It has a subtle aggression to it. It doesn't scream "look at me!" No, it's almost as though it's staring you down. As if to say, "why would you ever buy anything as dull as a Camry?"

Kia hired a former Audi designer to revamp the lineup, and the results are stunning. Sure, there are some hints of Audi in there, but I see a bit more BMW influence. It's a solid-looking car, but it's not chunky or overly angular. The proportions, on the whole, just seem to work well together.

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