2016 Kia Optima: In-Town Drivability
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.
First, this otherwise cushy four-door has some pretty touchy brakes. The pedal feel isn't very linear, and it grabs the brakes way too early in the pedal travel. It isn't as bad as our Tacoma and coming to a smooth stop can be done (with you concentrate enough) but the city is the wrong place to get acquainted with such sensitive brakes.
Throttle calibration is strange, too. Imagine you're stopped at a traffic light, first in line. The light goes green and you let of the brake. You don't want to dart out into the intersection like it's the start of a drag race, but some movement would be nice. Not in the Optima. It doesn't move. It's not really motivated to go anywhere.
I checked the car for an automatic stop/start feature. No dice. I watched the RPMs to confirm. Yup, the car was still running, but not going anywhere. Essentially, it's a really pronounced dual-clutch automated manual transmission and in "Normal" mode, there's a long gap before the car responds to any inputs. My fellow editor, James Riswick, recommends putting the car in sport mode and for now, that'll be my solution too.
If it were my money, I'd probably opt for either of the Optima's other available engines: the 2.4-liter or the turbocharged 2.0-liter, both of which come with standard six-speed transmissions.
Travis Langness, Automotive Editor @ 4,190 miles