2016 Kia Optima SXL
  • Exterior Styling
  • Interior Styling
  • Performance
  • Technology
  • Safety
  • Value
4.4

Summary

Bottom line, the 2016 Kia Optima is the way to go if you want a lot out of a sports sedan and you’re on a bit of a budget. You get the excitement of a turbocharged engine, the luxury of a spacious cabin full of features, and the 100,000 mile warranty is nothing to shake a stick at. If you’re in the market for a new sedan, it is without a doubt worth at least a test drive… but don’t be surprised when it winds up in your driveway.

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When I first heard that we were getting the 2016 Kia Optima to review, I really didn’t know what to think. I’ve always been drawn to the styling of these cars since the 2011 redesign, but I’ve never driven one so I really didn’t have any preconceived ideas other than “it’s a Kia”. Now I’m not going to lie, that thought was really all I could think the first time that I got into the car to drive it. Everything definitely looked nice, but at the end of the day it’s still just a Kia… right? Driving it felt nice, but it felt nice in the same type of way that a cheap pair of basketball shoes were kind of comfy, looked pretty cool, and didn’t do terribly on the basketball court… but they weren’t Jordans. Well, after driving it for a day or so, my old feelings toward Kia quickly faded as I realized how nice this car actually is. Kia’s quality and attention to detail shines in this car.

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The exterior styling is awesome. Forget the days when Korean manufacturers would use cues from other popular car makers. The only thing that I could think that inspired the look is possibly a Storm Trooper from Star Wars, and I ain’t even mad about that.  The 2016 year model Kia Optima got a facelift, and while it’s not a complete redesign, it is more of an evolutionary change of an already great design – which was the perfect move in my opinion. It’s sporty, sophisticated, and stands out in a crowd (in an unoffensive way).

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The interior is sweet. It feels way larger inside than it appears from the outside, and the panoramic sunroof just adds to that spacious feeling. The interior of the Optima we reviewed was equipped with the optional ‘Limited’ features such as the fancy yet sporty red leather interior, heated rear seats, and the panoramic roof mentioned before – but if you were to get the SX, it still has more than everything everything you’d probably want. Heated steering wheel, rear heated seats, dual-zone climate, paddle shifters,… I could go on. Unlike some other cars, the infotainment system is pretty intuitive and is a breeze to set-up and use. The 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system was amaazzziing. The interior is just so roomy and comfortable that I could see this working great for anyone from a young professional to a small family.

The 2016 Kia Optima is a great driving car. I think I had it in Sport Mode about 90% of the time, and this is where the boosted engine really shines. Merging and overtaking would take little effort, especially at lower gears/RPMS. The paddle shifters aren’t as quick to respond as the FRS recently reviewed, but even so, they worked perfectly fine and made spirited driving a pleasure. There were times when I wished I could squeeze a little more power out of it, and the while the suspension and steering is perfectly suitable for a comfortable ride – if you’re more into the sporty side of things, there is room for improvement in this area.

Looking back, Yousef gave the Kia Sorento a great review too – and with good reason… these things are just awesome! I really enjoyed driving the Audi A3 a couple of months back, and by no means am I saying that the A3 is a bad car or that I didn’t like it… I just like this car better. A lot better. There’s a lot of people who purchase vehicles based on status, and this probably isn’t for them. But if you’re the kind of person who wants a very nice sport sedan with awesome style and features that doesn’t break the bank… well this is the smart choice.