2016 Kia Optima: Quiet and Mostly Comfortable on First Road Trip
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.
I have my wife and two kids (ages four and eight) along for this trip. It's just a four-day trip, so thankfully we didn't have a ton of stuff to pack up. A medium-sized suitcase, three small suitcases, and a smattering of other items fit easily in the 15.9 cubic foot trunk.
Once underway, the Optima's composed highway ride quality became apparent. Hyundai/Kia has struggled to fully master suspension tuning at times (our Santa Fe and K900 are recent long-term fleet examples), but our Optima seems pretty dialed in to me. It readily absorbs rough pavement and stays composed after you drive over big bumps or highway dips.
It's quiet, too. At highway speeds, there's no perceptible engine noise and not much wind noise. Kia's press kit for the 2016 Optima notes the effort made to make the car quieter, including larger underbody paneling, additional insulation and molding, new bushings and laminated front door windows. Well Kia, it would seem that your engineer's efforts have paid off.
Less appealing, though, is front seat comfort. The seats are OK, and our car has the optional eight-way power driver seat with four-way power lumbar, so that's promising for getting your ideal driving position. But the seat's cushioning ended up feeling overly hard and flat to me after multiple hours of driving. My wife also complained about the head-restraint sticking too far forward.
So, there's that. But overall I'm enjoying our Optima and my kids seem happy enough with the available leg and shoulder room in back. I'm midway through my road trip right now and plan to write a follow-up update on engine performance and fuel economy in the next day or two.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 3,305 miles