Review: 2016 Kia Optima

Over the last few months I’ve been behind the wheel of a fair number of big hitters in the midsize sedan category. I tested the segment’s newest competitor, the 2016 Chevy Malibu, out in Northern California, while sedans from Hyundai and Toyota have been parked in my driveway.

Most recently though, I was loaned a fully tricked out version of the 2016 Kia Optima – that is the SX Limited trim with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine providing the power. It didn’t take long to see that, at least at the top of the price class, the Kia is as good as any of them.

A quick note: the weather was awful the week I drove this Optima, quite snowy. There's a lot of falling snow in the photo set you'll see here, which is less than ideal. But hey, at least you know they're real! 


  • Put simply: the turbocharged four-cylinder is excellent. This engine makes 245 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and delivers it all to the front wheels without unseemly tire spin or unpredictably turbo lag. Kia teams this engine with a six-speed automatic, with paddle shifters for individual gear control. I basically ignored the paddle shifters, as the shift logic had no problem kicking down a gear when I asked for some scoot.
  • One look at the face of the Optima with those prominent LED elements in the headlights, or inside the redesigned cabin, and you’ll understand why Kia poached designer Peter Schreyer from Audi. I know that there are whole teams of artists lending their talents to any one car design, ...