by Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing on February 27, 2017
We decided to test a 2016 Kia Optima for one primary reason. Its 2011 redesign was such a dramatic success that we were curious whether the follow-up could continue the momentum. This time around, the exterior was essentially untouched, but the chassis, suspension and interior were new, as was a new turbocharged engine option.
In order to test the most new equipment, we skipped over the EX, SX and SXL trims and chose the LX to get the new 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine. With our engine of choice, the LX 1.6T gets a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission, keyless entry, heated side mirrors and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. We added the $2,600 Technology package, which added navigation, parking sonar, blind-spot monitoring, dual-zone climate control and more. The total MSRP of our 2016 Kia Optima LX 1.6T was $27,545.
Midsize sedans get plenty of work when they're in our fleet and the Optima was no different. Here are some highlights from its year of service.
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on January 30, 2017
With a one-month absence as the result of a debilitating accident, it's amazing the 2016 Kia Optima was close to the 20,000-mile mark less than a week before it was set to return to Kia. Before I signed it out, Mike Schmidt, our test fleet manager, asked me to knock out a few hundred miles to tip it past the 20K goal we set for all long-term cars. "No sweat," I said.
by Calvin Kim, Road Test Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
Our 2016 Kia Optima spent a solid chunk of December at the body shop getting repaired from last month's double rear-ender. Thankfully, when we got it back, it was as good as new and put right back into service. Senior Consumer Advice Editor Matt Jones and I were the main Optima drivers for December. Matt drove the Kia on a road trip to visit family in the San Francisco area, while I battled Los Angeles traffic commuting and visiting friends and family over the New Year's holiday. Together, we were able to test the range of the car as well as some of the safety assistance systems.
Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
November started quietly enough. Our 2016 Kia Optima passed from editor to editor, connecting the dots in a series of around-town errands, until BAM! In the middle of the month, Photo Editor Kurt Niebuhr and the Optima were en route to Edmunds HQ when the Kia was rear-ended.
More on that below.
by Dan Frio, Vehicle Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
In October, we mostly drove our 2016 Kia Optima around town and on our daily commutes, with one significant exception — a round trip from California to Colorado that added more than 2,500 miles to the odometer. On that trip, Vehicle Testing Assistant Mike Massey got a good sense of what the Optima's all about. It's a car with great long-haul manners that, distilled into our typical short hauls, make the Optima a strong value and a smart daily driver.
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on September 16, 2016
After a subpar July at the fuel pumps, our 2016 Kia Optima got its groove back in August. Overall, we're seeing pretty respectable fuel economy from this turbocharged family sedan, although it's still well short of the EPA combined estimate.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on September 9, 2016
We've cleared the 10,000-mile mark in our long-term 2016 Kia Optima. We're close to being seven months into our year-long test, which means we've got a bit of catching up to do to reach our goal of 20,000 miles before we're done. A road trip or two would get us back on schedule. Thankfully, our Optima is certainly up to the task.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on September 5, 2016
As I noted last week, we neglected to take our 2016 Kia Optima in for its first service at the prescribed 7,500-mile mark. But better late than never. I headed over to my local Kia dealer to get the oil change and tire rotation taken care of.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on August 30, 2016
We're closing in on 10,000 miles in our long-term 2016 Kia Optima. While this is all well and good, there's one small problem: we forgot to take our Optima to a dealer for its first 7,500-mile service.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on August 25, 2016
I was looking over our recent updates on our 2016 Kia Optima. There hasn't much much excitement going on. We've posted some fuel updates and written some further commentary about the powertrain. Cameron noted how he loses our car in parking lots. In other words, boring. But maybe "boring" is actually good news. If you want your midsize sedan to get you through your day with a minimum of fuss, our Optima is rocking it.
by Jonathan Elfalan, Senior Road Test Editor on August 22, 2016
One thing we can't seem live without these days is the ability to pause, rewind or fast-forward whatever we're watching. That's true whether you're an avid consumer of cable network programming or an Amazon Prime and Netflix cord-cutter.
So why not incorporate said functionality into car audio systems? Our 2016 Kia Optima does just that.
by Jonathan Elfalan, Senior Road Test Editor on August 10, 2016
After a two-month upswing in average lifetime fuel economy, our 2016 Kia Optima slips a bit on the efficiency scale as we close out July. The overall numerical value is back to where it was in May — 29.4 mpg — which might seem at first like a negligible change from last month's 29.8 mpg.
However, with each additional month the number of data points grows, so it becomes increasingly difficult to move the needle toward the EPA combined estimate of 32 mpg. And this month we were definitely moving in the wrong direction.
by Michael Massey, Vehicle Testing Assistant on August 4, 2016
When fleetmaster Mike Schmidt handed me the key to the 2016 Kia Optima, I didn't expect much. As the new Vehicle Testing Assistant, I was excited to drive my first car, but I've personally never been a fan of the brand based on friends who experienced multiple mechanical problems with their Kias years ago. But a night in the Optima made it clear that my head had been stuck in the sand.
Let me explain.
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on July 27, 2016
It's safe to say that the 2011 Kia Optima helped transform Kia's image from a me-too automaker to a company that produces vehicles Americans want to own. This was largely due to sharp bodywork shaped by ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer. But despite Kia's supposed anti-beige philosophy, I think the redesigned 2016 Kia Optima takes a step backward to safer territory. At least in our tester's featureless LX trim and nondescript Sparkling Silver paint.
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on July 19, 2016
Our 2016 Kia Optima may just be the ultimate family sedan. It has a roomy cabin, a sizable trunk and plenty of storage space for small items. Further adding to the passenger-friendly atmosphere is the abundance of power ports smattered throughout the cabin. You'll never again have friends fighting over whose phone to charge first.
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on July 15, 2016
Will the luggage fit? To answer this question we loaded (our 2016 Kia Optima) with bags in different configurations and took photos. What constitutes carry-on luggage varies depending upon who you ask. So for the sake of standardization we used the same blue carry-on bag--size (21 x15x10 inches) and red checked bag--size (30x20x13 inches).
Take the jump for photos and more detail...
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on July 6, 2016
For the second month in a row our 2016 Kia Optima failed to reach our goal of 1,700 miles. It covered 1,200 in May and 1,500 in June. The sedan worked its way into the favor of editors living near the office and settled into the city life as a result.
One obvious downside to this trend is that the lack of mileage means less data. That extends the amount of time until we reach the Kia's combined mpg sweet spot. But there is an upside. Despite being relegated to local streets, overall fuel economy increased for the second month in a row.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on June 17, 2016
About a week ago, I wrote an update about the extra features contained within our 2016 Kia Optima's UVO eServices infotainment system. At the time, I couldn't quite figure out how to get the My Car Zone feature working. This is the part of UVO that allows you to create custom alerts for time, speed and location ("geofencing") if your Optima is being borrowed by your young driver. Or your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse, I suppose, if you don't trust him/her.
Well, I've since figured out how to get it to work through the car's UVO setup menu. Now it's just a matter of testing it out. I do have kids, but they're far from reaching driving age. Next best thing: me.
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on June 15, 2016
Is a nitpick a thing? If not, I'm making it one, and I've got two of them to put on our 2016 Kia Optima's record.
One has to do with the engine, the other with the transmission. Add them up and you might have enough nitpicks to make a shopper think twice.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on June 13, 2016
May was an uneventful month for our long-term 2016 Kia Optima. We amassed about 1,200 miles by primarily commuting to the Edmunds.com offices. But even without any major road trip mileage, we recorded another month of positive gain in our Optima's lifetime fuel economy.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on June 9, 2016
One of the main function buttons on our 2016 Kia Optima dashboard is for "UVO." Unidentified Vehicle Object, maybe? No, it's just Kia's umbrella name for various infotainment features. There are different versions of UVO based on what year and model of Kia you own, but our Optima has the latest UVO eServices with navigation. Since Kia gives you a dedicated button for it, it's surely important, right? Well, let's find out.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on June 7, 2016
For people shopping for a new 2016 midsize sedan, I could imagine the experience isn't too far removed from heading down a grocery store's cereal aisle. You thought you were going to get Cheerios, but then you notice that Raisin Bran is on sale. And didn't your friend say that she really likes Chocolate Chex? Mmm ... chocolatey. Meanwhile, at your local dealership strip: Should I get an Accord? Camry? Fusion? Malibu? Altima? Mazda 6? Sonata? Optima? Argh, paralytic indecision!
Well, based on my experience with our long-term 2016 Kia Optima, I've got five reasons why I think a potential shopper will like the Optima best.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on June 3, 2016
Back in March, Ed Hellwig wrote an update noting how the beeping of the blind-spot monitoring system in our 2016 Kia Optima could be viewed as annoying. It's a legitimate gripe, even though Ed also said he'd ultimately choose leaving the system on just for the enhanced safety. Less controversial in my mind is our car's rear cross-traffic alert system. For helping you out in crowded parking lots, it's great.
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on June 1, 2016
Our particular 2016 Kia Optima, with its turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, leads the rest of the Optima lineup with an EPA-estimated 32 mpg combined. We're getting almost 29 mpg, so we're close. I imagine if we committed to driving the Optima in either Normal or Eco modes, we'd reach that 32 mpg in short order.
Then again, if we committed to driving the Optima in Normal or Eco, we probably wouldn't drive it much. In Normal mode, you're in fourth gear before you've reached 40 mph and mashing the accelerator from a standstill is received more as a suggestion than an urgent command.
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on May 30, 2016
This past week I took our long-term 2016 Kia Optima home for the first time since driving for its initial photo shoot. There were other cars available, but I was set to leave work right as traffic was hitting its fever pitch and I wanted something quiet, comfortable and easy to drive. If I'd remembered how touchy the brakes were I might have gone with another car.
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on May 26, 2016
This falls under "once seen, can't be unseen." Overly critical perhaps, but an automaker needs to conceal the magic a little better than this. I'm talking about these vinyl-wrapped chunks of sound deadening material wedged between the body panels of our 2016 Kia Optima.
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on May 24, 2016
Earlier this month, Kia announced that Apple CarPlay will be added to the 2016 Kia Optima. That's great news if you're considering buying one, however, current owners like ourselves are not SOL. Customers who have previously purchased a '16 Optima (or '17 Sportage) with a navigation system will be "provided with a downloadable update via myuvo.com" beginning in the third quarter.
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on May 18, 2016
A whopping 17 2016 Kia Optimas are being recalled. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "the driver's frontal airbag may be missing a chemical enhancer required for the second stage airbag deployment, resulting in the second stage deploying improperly in certain crashes."
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on May 16, 2016
It's not a new party trick, but our 2016 Kia Optima has the same nifty hands-free trunk as our former Hyundai Sonata. I forgot all about that feature from the Sonata, let alone that it existed on the Optima, until talking to a neighbor while standing around near the back of the car.
I walked out to my driveway, key in pocket, as my neighbor passed by. He said he liked the Optima's styling, which I've found is one of the first things most people say about this car. It's fun to watch their reactions when you tell them the Optima was styled by a guy who was Audi and Volkswagen's former design boss (Peter Schreyer). There's always an "a-ha" moment, as if now it all makes sense.
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on May 13, 2016
The front seat bottom edges in our 2016 Kia Optima should be tucked under and secured in some way, but they have instead popped free, making it possible to feel the padding underneath. This is the case for both the driver and passenger seats. It's not overtly noticeable, but you can definitely see that it doesn't look right. I've tried to feel around to see if there's some way to easily re-secure the bottom edge, but no dice.
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on May 10, 2016
Our 2016 Kia Optima's fuel economy has experienced a significant jump since we last updated you on its fuel economy, climbing nearly 4 mpg to achieve a lifetime average of 28.8 mpg. Of course, the LX 1.6T trim and its powertrain are supposed to achieve an EPA-estimated 32 mpg combined, so there is still plenty of catching up to do.
As Brent Romans reported, however, he was able to achieve nearly 40 mpg on a whopping 574.7-mile tank, besting the EPA's highway estimate of 39 mpg. A few more open road adventures like that and I reckon the Optima should creep further up to its EPA combined number.
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on May 2, 2016
We had an Optima SX Turbo in the fleet a few years ago. It was pretty well-liked. At the time I took issue with some of its interior materials, specifically the black leather upholstery and steering wheel wrap. Kia called it leather anyway. I'm pretty sure it didn't originate in the animal kingdom, but rather in some polyvinyl lab experiment.
It held up fine during the year we drove the Optima, but it felt cheap for a $30,000 car and I questioned how long it would hold up over the lifespan of the car.
The upholstery in our more budget-minded 2016 Kia Optima LX 1.6T doesn't make any pretensions to be leather, fake leather or even premium cloth. I actually kind of like it more because of it.
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on April 28, 2016
There's a good chance you're already aware that Kia provides one of the two best warranties in the automotive industry (the other is offered by corporate cousin Hyundai). But what does our 2016 Kia Optima's include, exactly? Well, let's find out.
by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on April 25, 2016
I've been shopping for a new personal car recently, and I've realized that the work advantage of driving nearly everything on the market does not necessarily make it easier when choosing a vehicle for your personal needs.
In other words, I want to build my own "hybrid" — Audi seats, BMW steering, Porsche brakes, maybe a Ferrari badge?
This evening I was again reminded of another addition to my list when I climbed behind the wheel of the 2016 Kia Optima. To me, the Optima's navigation and audio system controls are perfect.
by Travis Langness, Automotive Editor on April 20, 2016
I've already gone on record and said how much I like our long-term 2016 Kia Optima's interior, especially as it relates to its big brother, the K900. However, I think it's worth noting just how easy it is to learn, and use, the Optima's infotainment system, too.
by Travis Langness, Automotive Editor on April 14, 2016
After climbing out of our long-term Toyota Tacoma, I hopped in to our long-term 2016 Kia Optima, hoping for a respite of comfort and relief. I complained a bit about the Tacoma's brakes and I thought a comfy family sedan would give me the calm, isolated commute I was looking for. While it didn't disappoint in terms of comfort, the Kia did have some drivability issues I wasn't expecting.
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on March 31, 2016
It's capable of impressive range and fuel efficiency, produces plenty of power for its mass, and has a pretty large back seat. Now we also know that our 2016 Kia Optima is also one of the safest midsize sedans available, having just earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick+ rating.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on March 30, 2016
I like the available interior storage in our 2016 Kia Optima. There are a couple cupholders and a few bins to work with. The setup isn't flashy, but I've found it to be pretty handy for my personal effects.
Click through to see some in-use action photos from around the interior.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on March 28, 2016
Well, consider this update a counter to that. I just finished up a road trip where I drove 574 miles on one tank of gas. And for the trip, our Optima posted up an impressive 39.9 mpg.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on March 25, 2016
A couple of weeks ago, I was sifting through our list of long-term cars, hoping to schedule one of them for an upcoming 600-mile road trip with my family. The Honda Pilot and Kia Sedona were obvious choices, but were already booked. So was our new Honda Civic. The Chevrolet Volt was available but I was worried about it not having enough trunk space. Hmm. T
Then I noticed our 2016 Kia Optima was free and clear. Family sedan for a family road trip? Sold.
And as it turned out, I should have just considered our Optima to begin with. This sedan is well-suited for long hauls.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on March 24, 2016
As you can see, the four-cylinder engine is our 2016 Kia Optima is on the small side. There's nearly a foot of empty space around it, which is unusual on a modern car.
It's visually deceptive, however, as it produces more than enough power to get this sizable sedan up to speed.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on March 21, 2016
For the Edmunds.com long-term fleet, we usually end up testing fully-loaded vehicles so we can report how well, or poorly, most of the available features perform. The downside to this approach, however, is that we drive vehicles in trim levels that are on the narrow end of a sales bell curve.
Well, welcome to the thick part of the bell curve. Our 2016 Kia Optima is an LX Turbo. The LX is the Optima's entry-level trim, and getting the optional turbo 1.6-liter engine represents a half-step up from there. Our car also has just one option package, the Technology package. Final MSRP on our car is a budget-friendly $27,545.
Here are three reasons why the LX Turbo is a great way to go if you're shopping for an Optima.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on March 17, 2016
Why would anyone want to turn off the blind spot monitor in our 2016 Kia Optima? Turns out there are a couple reasons, but most of them aren't very good.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on March 15, 2016
Our 2016 Kia Optima gets many of the basics right. One example is the transmission. It not only moves through the gears smartly, the shifter itself feels good to the touch.
by Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor on March 8, 2016
Our long-term 2016 Kia Optima has a good-sized 15.8-cu-ft trunk that further benefits from a low and wide opening. Those rear seatback releases in the trunk are an added bonus, which means if you need to transport longer items, you won't need to climb into the rear seats to unlatch them.
A lot of manufacturers are doing this now and it's a good thing. But...
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on March 3, 2016
Our 2016 Kia Optima is barely broken in, so we'll give it the benefit of the doubt for now. We say this because it's still returning mileage numbers well below its EPA ratings.
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on February 29, 2016
Likewise, the Optima's fuel economy tally for January got a late start. It consists of only two fills, whereupon the silver sedan covered 617 miles and used just under 24 gallons of fuel.
Considering that its EPA combined rating is 32 mpg, is our 26.1 mpg January result a harbinger of things to come? We shall see. It's way too soon to start drawing conclusions.
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on February 24, 2016
I spent a lot of time in the driver seat of our former long-term 2015 Hyundai Sonata. Its roomy back seat, agreeable ride and quality interior made it an easy car to keep for the weekend. Another of its highlights was the design of its clean center stack, which I always found extremely easy to use.
I'm happy to see that the multi-tiered center stack has been incorporated into the 2016 Kia Optima as well.
by Travis Langness, Social Media Editor on February 22, 2016
It may not be covered in leather and wood, but the interior of our long-term 2016 Kia Optima feels almost as nice as our recently-departed long-term Kia K900 and that's saying a lot. Here's a picture of the K900's interior for comparison.
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on February 18, 2016
Starting the 2016 Kia Optima is effectively a two-step process.
Step 1: Press Start button. Step 2: Press Drive Mode button until the word "Sport" glows yellow in the gauges.
Doing so will result in the car, and specifically the throttle and transmission, behaving like a car should. When you press the throttle, the engine responds and moves the car forward with an immediacy determined by your right foot. The transmission stays in an appropriate gear for the speed in which you're travelling.
As a bonus, the steering firms up to the point where moving it actually provides some semblance of feel for what the wheels are doing. Some semblance. Not a lot.
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on February 17, 2016
Now that our long-term 2016 Kia Optima is broken in, it was time to take it to the track. We specifically ordered this model with the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder and new seven-speed dual clutch and were eager to see how the combo performed.
Despite this being an eco-minded model, we hoped that this setup would prove both exciting and economical. Read on to see how it fared at its limits.
by Travis Langness, Social Media Editor on February 16, 2016
When new long-term vehicles arrive in our fleet, I have a little routine that I go through with them. I pop the hood, check out all the storage and cubby holes, and if there's a back seat, I sit in it. I'm only 5-foot-9, so I adjust to my comfortable seating position from the driver's seat, then add a few inches to simulate someone at least six-feet tall driving the car.
Then like my father taught me in all the test-drives he did during my childhood, I sit in the back seat, ostensibly behind myself. He's six feet tall, so he called it the "six and six? test to illustrate how comfortably two six-foot tall passengers could fit in the car. I recently performed the "six and six" in our new long-term 2016 Kia Optima and although I didn't have two test subjects on hand, there was a lot of room to spare.
by Travis Langness, Social Media Editor on February 11, 2016
It's quiet, smooth and glides over bumps. That's my subjective review of our long-term 2016 Kia Optima's suspension so far.
After a few days around the city in the Optima, I'm really pleased with how comfortable it is. Our long-term Kia K900 had some issues once it had a full load of passengers, so I'm hoping the Optima doesn't fall victim to the same pitalls. For the time being, it seems really comfortable.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on February 10, 2016
When the Kia Optima was redesigned in 2011 it was groundbreaking. It had a design so striking that it reinvented the brand overnight. Sedan shoppers who never thought twice about Kia suddenly considered the idea of putting an Optima in their driveway.
We drove one for a year and liked much of what it offered. It wasn't perfect, though, so it didn't knock the class leaders off their perch.
For 2016, the Kia Optima has been redesigned again. This time around, Kia knows it has a good-looking car on its hands, so it didn't change much on the outside. It even made a Super Bowl commercial mocking the blandness of its competitors.
Most of the changes were made to the underlying chassis, suspension tuning and interior. Kia also added an interesting new turbocharged engine option that delivers strong performance and even more miles per gallon than the base engine. It's once again an intriguing option that we wanted to know more about, so we decided to give it another try and add one to the fleet.