For Kia, the Optima has been somewhat of a trailblazer, as many cars on the road today seem to incorporate something from the Optima in their design cues. Since being completely redesigned in 2010, Kia’s dramatic and eye-catching Optima midsize sedan has become a sales leader for the brand and garnered a long list of awards and accolades. Optima returns to the lineup in 2013 with the same unbeatable combination of head-turning design, fun-to-drive performance, modern amenities and long list of standard safety features, in addition to strong consumer appeal and record sales. We were looking forward to a week behind the wheel of the 2013 Kia Optima SX Premium to see first-hand if all the hype was warranted.
The 2013 Kia Optima SX Premium is such a striking looking vehicle and with the snow white pearl paint that our test model was sporting, I couldn’t help but admire this flashy set of wheels. The 2013 Optima projects a refined, performance-oriented aesthetic with a sleek silhouette, aggressive stance and sculpted elements that evoke passion and communicate Kia Motors’ dedication to creating stylish and dynamic vehicles. The Optima’s aggressive face proudly features the brand’s signature tabbed grille complemented by projector headlamps, while Optima’s coupe-like profile is accentuated by a sweeping chrome arc that flows seamlessly from the A through C pillars – a distinctive design element that visually lowers the car while enhancing its proportions. Optima’s roofline connects with its pronounced shoulder line, leading to its sculpted flanks and accentuating its extended wheelbase. Boldly flared wheel arches and a raked cabin create a sedan with a graceful muscular presence. Many have tried to replicate this look, but there is only one Optima from the front to the rear.
Every 2013 Optima comes well-equipped with a generous roster of standard features, with the LX trim offering dual exhaust with chrome tips, solar glass, exterior mirror turn signal indicators, front fog lights, exterior heated mirrors, chrome accented exterior door handles and 16-inch alloy wheels fitted with 205/65R16 tires and a six-speed automatic transmission. The volume-leading EX trim offers larger 17-inch alloy wheels fitted with 215/55R17 tires. Moving to the SX, consumers will find stylish 18-inch polished alloy wheels with 225/45R18 tires, unique front and rear lower bumpers and side sills, a rear lip spoiler, aero wiper blades and HID headlights with auto leveling. Elevating to the all-new top-of-the-line Limited trim that Bullz-Eye tested brings Optima to another level of sporty refinement, adding unique and luxurious 18-inch chrome wheels, daytime running lights, red brake calipers, chrome accented side sills, chromed side mirrors and rear spoiler.
Ever since the new Kia Optima launched in 2010, the folks at Kia have continuously improved the interior cabin, and 2013 is no different. With sleek modern lines and a host of thoughtful features, the interior of the Optima exudes performance and was designed with drivers in mind. From the instrument panel that’s contoured toward the driver to create a cockpit-like feel, to the precise gauges and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, Optima’s interior provides the experience of a performance vehicle without sacrificing comfort or roominess. A sport-inspired Sportmatic shifter delivers crisp shifts, while an available panoramic sunroof provides an open-air feeling.
In addition to its sporty personality, the Optima is loaded with standard convenience features and functionality that consumers have come to expect from a midsize sedan. Occupants are greeted by a number of premium standard features, such as a six-way adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support, tilt and telescopic steering column, glove box cooling capabilities and automatic light control. Additional standard interior features include power door locks, power windows and sun visor extension. Stylishly appointed cloth seats provide comfortable seating, while a 60/40 split-folding rear seat offers multiple seating and cargo arrangements based on driver and passenger needs. New for 2013, driver and front passenger can benefit from adjustable (up/down and sliding) headrests for optimal comfort.
Cabin comfort is further complemented by an impressive list of standard technology features, including an AM/FM/CD/MP3/Satellite audio system with SiriusXM Satellite Radio capabilities and three months complimentary service, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. All Optimas also feature cruise control and an Active Eco System that allows drivers to optimize fuel efficiency while driving. Balancing athleticism and sophistication, the Limited trim adds supple Nappa leather seat and interior trim, black cloth headliner and pillar trim, wood interior accents throughout and a cloth door weather strip. An electronic parking brake also comes standard to the already well-equipped trim. Kia is giving consumers every reason possible not to spend extra money for a luxury sedan brand when you can get it all with an Optima!
The Optima SX Premium looks great and the interior is tremendous, so how good can the performance be? No real surprise here, as the driving experience in the 2013 Kia Optima SX Premium was totally awesome. Built as a unibody structure, the front-wheel-drive Optima utilizes independent front and rear suspension systems featuring MacPherson struts in the front and a multi-link layout in the rear. Coil springs and front anti-roll bars complete the setup, engaging drivers with responsive handling and providing the utmost comfort whether the road is smooth or less than ideal.
The 2013 Optima is available with two fuel-efficient and powerful Theta II powerplants featuring gasoline direct injection (GDI), including a 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder or a 2.0-liter GDI turbo engine. A 2.4-liter hybrid powertrain is also available. The 2.4-liter GDI engine produces 200 horsepower while upgrading to the 274-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo GDI engine that we drove (SX models) delivers V6-type power with a four-cylinder’s efficiency. Each engine choice is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission featuring Sportmatic clutchless shifting. The power in the 2.0 Turbo is better than most V6 engines I’ve tested and delivers an impressive 22mpg in the city and 34mpg in highway driving. The 2013 Kia Optima SX Premium delivers a tight but luxurious ride seldom found in sedans price at $35,275 as tested.
There are so many cars that just get lost in the crowd, and for those who could care less about style, then that must be just fine with them. For those who desire good looks and fresh design in their cars, then the 2013 Kia Optima SX Premium should be added to the shopping list. Kia has poured a lot of car into the new Optima, and for a price of around 35k for a loaded cutting edge sedan, it’s no wonder that the car is selling like hotcakes. The high-end performance was a bonus to the great looks and sweet interior, so don’t think that the 2013 Kia Optima SX Premium is all hat and no cattle, because this sedan delivers the goods.