Monthly Archives: June 2015

2015 Kia Optima SX Turbo

Susan Frissell

One of this writer’s favorite sedans, the 2015 Kia Optima gets a few updates such as optional UVO telematics system. Trim levels have been changed slightly and the SX Limited is now the SXL.

We like the new sport steering wheel.

We like the new sport steering wheel.

A sedan fan, I found a couple of cons while driving the Optima: the feel of being closer to the ground when taking bumps/dips, and the driver’s seat ill-fitting. The latter isn’t a feature criticized by most writers, but I couldn’t seem to get the right fit. For instance, the headrest felt intrusive against the back of my head and the seats not as supportive as I would have liked.

Competition for the Kia Optima includes its stablemate the Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion, Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima, to name a few. A crowded market, family sedans may be a dying breed. Although we hope not. We much prefer a sedan over an SUV.

The standard engine in the 2015 Kia Optima is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, with 192 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Kia’s 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque) is available as an option on the SX and standard on the SXL.

All models are front-wheel-drive and equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission.

We favor the quilted seats.

We favor the quilted seats.

Kia Optima maintains a long list of standard safety features, including four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, side airbags and side curtain airbags. Available are a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert and a blind-spot monitoring system. The optional upgraded Uvo telematics system (on the EX and above) includes roadside assistance, collision notification and driver restrictions and tracking for secondary drivers.

Ways in which the Kia Optima stands out from other sedans are first, its styling. It’s easy to spot and unmistakable with its curves and lines. We especially liked the new Nappa leather seating, with criss-cross lines. It appears more durable and added some style.

Standard and optional features on the Kia Optima include many and for the price of this sedan, we think consumers get a fuller package. The cabin is roomy, up-do-date and well laid out. We especially like the new squared-off steering wheel, much like the one in the new Corvette. Nice touch, Kia!

Trim levels in the Optima include the entry level LX with a host of standard equipment, including Bluetooth, cruise, height-adjustable driver’s seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Anteing up for the Convenience Plus, consumers enjoy laminated front windows, rearview camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror and Uvo telematics system.

On the EX trim level, Kia adds upgraded windows, power driver seat and auto-dimming mirror, all standard equipment. Wheels are 17-inch alloy, and keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air-conditioning vents and leather upholstery are all standard.

If you’re the sunroof type, you can add on the EX Premium package and enjoy the panoramic roof, rearview camera, upgraded Uvo version, 4-say passenger seat, power-folding mirrors, heated steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, driver memory settings and an eight-speaker Infinity sound system with HD radio.

Our test vehicle, the SXL Turbo came equipped with all the standard features in the EX optional packages,18-inch wheels, unique interior and exterior trim, LED foglights, electronic parking brake and premium Nappa leather upholstery, with woven pattern.
Without the Turbo engine, the SX trim level gets the Premium Technology package, adding those items available in the EX’s Premium and Technology packages. For the turbocharged SX, the Premium and Technology packages are separate.

Government safety ratings are high for the Optima: Five stars for overall safety and a top score of ‘good.’ Go to for complete information.

Kia’s Uvo telematics electronics interface system resembles Ford’s Sync system but seems easier to work with. Uvo provides voice control of cell phones, MP3 players. The system also operates POIs and turn-by-turn navigation. The touchscreen interface in navigation-equipped Optima’s is also easy to use and has a nice bright screen with pleasing graphics. Operating XM is also simple.

The Kia Optima remains one of our favored sedans for many reasons. Certainly styling and ease of driving fall at the top of reasons. We didn’t find the driver’s seat all that accommodating, however. This writer couldn’t get comfortable and wished for a more form fitting seat (sportier seat?). Pros include the Optima cabin, ease of controls and cost.

If the Optima has any faults those may be the fact that the positive styling makes for cramped headroom for rear seat passengers. Fuel economy could be better (23/34 mpg. For the 2.4-liter, 16 valve engine and 20/31 mpg for the Turbo).

Don’t expect the Optima to have a sporty personality; at least not as sporty as, say the Infiniti Q50 or Mazda 6 sedans. The ride can be stiff in the Turbo version and rear seat headroom can be tight due to Optima’s snazzy styling. Miles-per-gallon also suffer some, in comparison.

And, as with most turbocharged engines we drive, that lag can show up at the worst of times: making a turn in front of traffic.

MSRP: $35,500; total vehicle price $36,325; destination $825
Engine: 2.4-liter 16 valve, 4-cylinder (192 hp., 181 ft. lbs. torque); 2.0-liter Turbocharged, 4-cylinder
Transmission: six-speedSportmatic automatic
Wheelbase: 110 in.
Length: 190.7 inn.
Width: 72.1 in.
Height: 57.1 in.
EPA fuel economy: 20/31 mpg.
Tires: 225/45R18
Wheels: 18-inch chrome alloy
Fuel tank capacity: 18.5 gal.
Weight: 3,237 lbs.
Warranty: 5 yr./60,000-mile Basic-Roadside assistance-Rust; 10 yr./100,000-mile drivetrain
Seating: 5

Countdown of the 15 “Hottest New Cars”

The ‘hottest’ new cars of 2015, according to columnist Jim Gorzelany include:

*Ford F150 truck: long-awaited redesign
*Midsize Pickups: Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon
*Large SUV’s: GM models Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon/XL and Cadillac Escalade/ESV
*CUV’s: Chevrolet Trax/Jeep Renegade, Lexus NX, Lincoln MKC
*More Crossover SUVS
*First sporty SUV: Porsche Macan
*New Luxury models: Audi A3, Kia K900, Hyundai Genesis, Acura TLX, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe, S63 AMG, MB S550 Coupe-redesigned, renamed
*Muscle car: Corvette Z06
*Italian Sports Cars: Alfa Romeo 4C
*Exotic Supercar: Porsche 918 Spyder

*Less worthy models: Chrysler 200, Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Sonata-redesigned, MB C-Class, Mini Cooper Hardtop, Subaru Legacy and Outback.

Jim’s Picks for the Least Exciting Cars:

15. Smart 4Two
14. Scion iQ
13. Nissan Titan-redesigned
12. Nissan Armada
11. Mitsubishi Mirage
10. Mitsubishi MiEV
9. Lincoln MKT
8. Lincoln MKS
7. Jeep Wrangler
6. Jeep Patriot
5. Jeep Compass
4. Fiat 500L (not competitive to CUV’s on mkt)
3. Dodge Journey
2. Cadillac XTS (among industry’s worst values
1. BMW-7 Series (lost its edge)

reprinted from Jim Gorzelany in Autos column