2016 Kia Optima: Déjà Vu From the Driver Seat
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.
Since the Hyundai-Kia siblings share a common platform and fill the midsize car slot for their respective marques, perhaps it's not surprising that the Sonata and Optima have a similar design for the infotainment and climate control systems. But the similarities don't stop at the center stack. The instrument panels of the two cars are largely the same, with toggle switches for optional safety features located to the left of the steering wheel. They each have a dashboard that is black on top and beige on the bottom.
There are minor design differences, like placement of the air vents, the dashboard shape and the plastic cover below the Sonata's climate controls that hides the small item cubby. There are also trim level differences, such as the Optima's cloth upholstery versus the Sonata's leather seating with cloth inserts.
While the Optima's interior is mostly a repeat of the Sonata's, that's not a bad thing. That's especially true when you consider that we liked the Sonata's interior so much that last year we gave it an "A" rating on all three versions that we tested. Although the Optima's cabin isn't groundbreaking, we know from experience the controls are thoughtfully laid out and the infotainment system is easy to use with a logical menu layout. If our staff's impressions of the Sonata's interior are any indication, you'll likely see few gripes about the Optima's.
Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor @ 1,572 miles