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2016 Kia Optima EX by John Heilig +VIDEO

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel


MODEL: 2016 Kia Optima EX
ENGINE: 2.4-liter I-4
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 185 hp @ 6,000 rpm/178 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
WHEELBASE: 110.4 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 191.1 x 73.2 x 57.7 in.
TIRES: P215/55R17
CARGO: 15.9 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway/25.2 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 18.5 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,362 lbs.
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Fusion, Honda Accord. Chevrolet Malibu
STICKER: $30,615 (includes $825 delivery, $4,900 options)

BOTTOM LINE: The relationship between the Kia Optima and the Hyundai Sonata is obvious. Both are quality mid-size sedans, with the only real difference between them the style.         

A quality mid-size car – the largest and most important segment – must offer a silent ride on all road surfaces, have respectable power and handling, and good economy. The Kia Optima has all these in spades.          

We took the Optima over hill and dale to our favorite Pennsylvania Dutch farm stand in preparation for Thanksgiving. In our trip, we took a long hillclimb with great turns that the Optima handled with grace. There was good acceleration through the curves with some minor complaints from the engine when I pushed it.          

Straight back country roads were no problem. And, we had a good trunk to hold everything we bought. On Interstates there was enough power so that we didn’t have any fears of being trampled by semis.          

In order to go fast, you need good brakes. The Optima’s brakes were firm, but not sticky, so that when I applied the pedal the car slowed down smoothly.          

Front seats are comfortable with some side support. The center console/arm rest plus arm rests on the doors help hold front passengers in their seats if the driver gets too rambunctious. Rear seats have very good legroom with a flat floor between them for a center passenger. The rear seats actually have more side support than the fronts. As up front, the center arm rest and door arm rests help cosset you in. Like the fronts, the rear seats are heated. Additionally, rear passengers have 12-volt and USB plugs at the rear of the center console. Rear passengers also have manual sun shades for the side windows.          

The driver sits in front of a clear instrument panel with white-on-black dials and red pointers. There is a very good audio system with the usual assortment of choices. The heater could have warmed us faster, but that may be a factor of my reluctance to accept the transition from warmer weather to cooler weather.          

The trunk is very useful at almost 16 cubic feet. In addition, there is hidden storage under the trunk floor. Rear seat back releases are located in the cargo area. Internal storages areas include bottoms to the door pulls (I like to place my keys there in pushbutton start/stop cars so I don’t forget them when I exit), a nice covered cubby at the base of the center stack and a square “cupholder” cubby to the right of the T-shaped shifter. All the doors have room for water bottles.          

The heated wheel is comfortable, with switches for cruise control, audio and telephone.          

Drivers have a choice among three drive modes, Eco, Sport and Normal. Generally, we drove in Normal mode, although we did not notice any major differences between that and Eco.          

A feature I find very useful is the driver’s outside rearview mirror dips when you shift into reverse. I back into my driveway and the dipping mirror, plus a rearview camera, keeps my garage door from abuse as well as the edge of my lawn.          

While the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata are obviously siblings, there is enough to differentiate between the two, besides style, to make an intelligent purchase decision.

© 2015 The Auto Page Syndicate

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