Kia's entrant in the hotly-contested midsize sedan segment, the Optima has been known for adventurous Euro-styling as well as value and features. Though redesigned for 2016, the fourth-generation Optima hasn’t changed dramatically in appearance. Like many rivals, the Optima can be equipped to push toward near-luxury territory.
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2016 Kia Optima Overview
What's New for 2016
Kia has redesigned its most popular model for 2016, adding a new LX 1.6T trim level with a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine and dual-clutch transmission. Ride and handling have improved, helped by increased torsional rigidity, and the 2016 Optima is slightly longer, taller, and wider. New bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights can be fitted with dynamic bending lamps, to illuminate the view around corners.
Choosing Your Kia Optima
The base engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 185 horsepower. SX and SXL versions get a turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder that achieves 245 horsepower. Both of those engines use a six-speed automatic transmission.
A new 1.6-liter turbo, rated at 178 horsepower, goes into the LX 1.6T, mating with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The LX 1.6T gets a fuel-economy estimate of 28/39 mpg (city/highway), versus 24/35 mpg for 2.4-liter models and 22/32 mpg for the 2-liter turbo.
The Optima now is available in five trim levels:
Only option groups and port-installed accessories are available; there are no individual factory options. Selecting one of the five trim levels dictates everything from engine to minor conveniences, so choose carefully. Remember, too, that those option groups aren’t cheap.
2016 Kia Optima Review
For 2016, to Kia Optima gets an evolutionary redesign that takes the already successful look of the sedan and freshens it up a bit. This redesign gives the Optima a slightly larger footprint and a swoopier design that makes it just a bit bolder looking than previous years. Also included is a new, fuel-saving engine.
With this redesign, is the Optima still a great alternative to the Camry and Accord? Check out our review to find out what we think of it.
Pricing and Equipment
As a midsize sedan, there are a lot of boxes the 2016 Optima needs to check in order to be successful. It needs to be roomy, have ample power, look stylish, and remain affordable. The latter is certainly something that the Optima does well, as its base LX trim starts from $21,840. At this price, the 2016 Optima is pretty well equipped, as it comes standard with:
- Tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel
- Six-speajer audio system
- Rearview camera
- Power mirrors
- Automatic headlights
If you’re looking for even more premium features, there are four other trims to choose from. The LX 1.6T starts from $23,990, the EX bases from $24,890, the SX starts at $29,690, and the fully equipped SX Limited starts from $35,790.
The optional 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is a great dance partner in this midsize sedan, despite being down on power from last year. The 2016 Optima’s suspension is also perfectly tuned.
- 245-horsepower four-cylinder is plenty potent.
- Chassis delivers good handling, while also giving plenty of give over the rough stuff.
- Low-rpm torque is plentiful.
- 39 mpg highway with 1.6T engine.
The two smaller-displacement four-cylinder engines are a little wheezy for our liking, even the 1.6-liter turbo. We also found the dual-clutch transmission that comes with the 1.6T engine to be a little finicky in low-speed situations.
- 1.6-liter seems to struggle when pushed hard for extended periods.
- Base four-cylinder needs to wound out.
- Dual-clutch transmission is downright frustrating when navigating a parking lot.
The 2016 Optima is by far one of the best-equipped sedans for the money, as even its base LX trim has tons of great features. What’s more, the cabin feels roomier than ever with the redesign.
- Corners of the dash are moved outward for a larger feel.
- Plenty of value in the cabin, particularly in the mid-range trim levels.
- Large trunk with big opening.
The Optima’s cabin is great, so it is hard to find many faults. If we have to pick one, however, we would say that it’s the fact that the rear seat, while larger than before, is not as comfortable as other models in its class -- especially for folks who are any taller than six feet.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
The features that the 2016 Optima comes with are incredible for its class. All the way from the base LX to the top-of-the-line SX Limited, there is lots of value. Looking at the $37,000 price tag affixed to the range-topping SX Limited may be eye-watering at first, but we suggest comparing its feature list to a comparably priced luxury sedan. You’ll be quite pleased to learn that the Optima’s list is on par or better.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
We wanted to love the 1.6T engine, we really did, but it made that hard to do. Sure, it has ample power for short spurts, but when driving through mountains or when passing a long line of cars, it felt like it gave up at some point. Additionally, its standard dual-clutch transmission is not friendly in parking lots.
The Bottom Line
It has a few flaws here and there, but all in all, the 2016 Kia Optima is a great option for midsize sedan shoppers. It has a range of engines that fits all needs, its looks are stylish and modern, and it is an outstanding value.