Overachiever - Nearly 600 Miles and 40 MPG on One Tank - 2016 Kia Optima Long-Term Road Test

2016 Kia Optima Long-Term Road Test

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2016 Kia Optima: Overachiever - Nearly 600 Miles and 40 MPG on One Tank

by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on March 28, 2016

2016 Kia Optima

To date, we haven't had much good to write about our 2016 Kia Optima's fuel economy. In our most recent MPG update, we noted that our car's lifetime average was just 25 mpg.

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.

The EPA estimates the Optima 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder's highway fuel economy at 39 mpg.

Also interesting: I wasn't trying or even expecting to get 40 mpg. This was a family road trip with my wife, two kids and associated gear. I was driving on California highways at the typical 70 mph-plus speeds with the air-conditioning on most of time. Some city driving was also mixed in here.

Based on other long-term cars I've driven over the years in similar situations, I would have expected something between EPA combined (32 mpg) and highway. Heck, when I drove our long-term Nissan Rogue on an 800-mile road trip a year and a half ago, it returned just 1 mpg better than its EPA city estimate.

2016 Kia Optima

During the trip, our Optima's in-car fuel gauge was consistently showing a low 40 mpg average. When I pulled into a gas station to fill up after 574.7 miles, it was at 40.0 mpg. (Also note the car's remaining range of 43 miles. Conceivably, you could push past 600 miles in the Optima.) These in-car gauges are usually optimistic, but in this case it was very close; I pumped in 14.405 gallons (the actual calculation here is 39.895, but I rounded up to 39.9).

It's not clear whether this trip was an anomaly or if our previous reported fuel economy has been abnormally low. Maybe it's both. I suspect our Optima's fuel economy is more susceptible to driving style (e.g., the Sport button) when driven around town and commuting than it is when you're just cruising on the highway.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 3,652 miles

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