2016 Kia Optima: LX Turbo Is the One to Get
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.
1: You get a lot of desirable and useful features for your money. Starting out, the Optima LX gets you alloy wheels, a power driver seat, Bluetooth, a USB port and a six-speaker stereo. When you select the Turbo variant and the Technology package, you also get extras such as a power driver seat, keyless entry and ignition, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, dual-zone automatic climate control and an 8-inch central touchscreen with Uvo and navigation.
While it'd be nice to have other Optima features like heated leather seats or a sunroof, you start moving up the trim level hierarchy to get them. I feel like this LX Turbo with Technology is a nice base set that will keep you happy for years and your monthly payments low.
2: The turbo engine is a worthwhile upgrade over the base engine. A previous-generation Optima we tested with the regular LX 2.4-liter engine accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds. Our 2016 Optima here did it in 7.7 seconds. That's a difference you can feel. Fuel economy should be better, too. I say should since we'll have to see whether the turbo's 4-mpg higher EPA estimate numbers pan out in our real world testing. So far, the results are a little discouraging. But I'm confident our Optima will start putting up some better mpg numbers than we have now.
3: Sixteen-inch wheels help out the ride quality. Automakers often fit big, flashy wheels on the top trim levels. Kia does it with the Optima, using 17s for the EX and 18s for the SX. The bigger wheels look nice and help sharpen handling a bit since the tire sidewall gets shorter. But less sidewall also means less ability to absorb road impacts or prevent wheel damage when hitting big potholes.
On a car like the Optima, I'm more concerned with having comfortable ride quality and that means the LX's 16-inch wheels are the best way to go. We've observed this already in our "Good Ride So Far" update. And really, I think our car looks fine with the 16s.
So I've made the case for the LX Turbo. What would you get? Have you bought a different Optima trim recently?
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor@ 3,000 miles