You might think that $35 grand is a lot to spend on a Kia, but apparently it's not. The entire reason this new-for-2013 Limited trim level was developed for the Optima is because buyers kept telling Kia dealers that they liked the Optima but wished there was a fancier, top-of-the-line model. So, Kia obligingly created the Limited and it is indeed an attractive machine, especially with its twinkling LED running lights. In fact, with its generous equipment, comfortable cabin, and upmarket exterior design, it is in essence an entry-level luxury sedan. The existence of the Optima Limited speaks to the power of good design: If Kia hadn't hired a good design chief, Automobile Magazine's 2012 Man of the Year Peter Schreyer, who elevated the brand's designs to heights never before imagined, then they would never be able to charge $35,000 for a vehicle. But they didhire Schreyer, he did fix their designs, and now they have a product that people are willing to pay $35,000 for. It's a simple equation.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
Before we chastise Kia for selling a $35,275 Optima, it's important to remember that you can easily spend similar amounts of money on a Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, or Nissan Altima. Still, the SX Limited package doesn't seem to offer much value for the extra money. Paying $3350 for the different 18-inch wheels, LED running lights, electric parking brake, Nappa leather, red brake calipers, and first aid kit included in the Limited package seems like a waste when the Optima SX is already so nicely equipped. Do mid-size sedan buyers really need or want red-painted calipers and a few badges in the trunk? This package is essentially just a ploy to get style-conscious buyers to drop more cash at the dealership.
Whatever trim level or packages you select, the Kia Optima is a great-looking car, and the torquey turbo-four engine in our tester makes for quick acceleration. The Optima has a giant trunk, comfortable ride, and well-appointed cabin -- all qualities that are important to buyers in this segment. Most customers, however, should save $3350 by skipping the frivolous SX Limited package.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
This is my first time driving the new Optima and color me impressed. Its swooping lines and purposeful stance make it one of the best-looking vehicles in its segment. More than anything, though, the Optima looks like it was actually designed by an individual, rather than a committee. Some of the details are a touch busy, but the overall look is clean and distinctive -- the latter a virtue that is on the endangered list in the world of mid-size sedans.
The interior is also well done. Materials and fit are very good and, although the nearly all-black interior in the press car I drove could have used some bright accents, the overall look is handsome and modern without feeling cold. As expected, the controls are dead easy to find and decipher and the touch screen and gauges are crisp and bright.
The Optima also feels fairly well sorted on the road. It's certainly no athlete and the chassis can become busy over undulations, but it responds predictably to inputs and for the most part the ride is comfortable and composed. In essence, dynamically the Optima is not too far off -- at least for those shopping in this segment -- what is offered by the classleaders. What makes the Optima worth considering over the more popular vehicle from Toyota, Nissan, and Honda is style. Driving an Optima also means that you are less likely to see yourself coming and going.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
When I drove the Optima Limited on the press launch in Florida in early 2012, I found the ride quality to be quite good. That, dear readers, is why manufacturers don't host many drive events in Michigan in November.Put the Optima Limited on pothole-riddled roads in the Midwest, and the Optima's ride quality is much less pleasant -- in fact, you can feel and hear the wheels bouncing around at all four corners. It's not unbearable but it's not idyllic. There's also too much road noise. Several obviously uneven body-panel gaps disappointed me, as well.
Still, the Optima handles sportily enough that I think most enthusiasts could be happy owning one of these, especially considering its abundant turbocharged power. Also, the panoramic glass roof is quite lovely and looks cool from outside the car.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor