What Is It?
Although it looks largely the same as before, the 2016 Kia Optima gets a thorough overhaul under the skin as Kia positions it for a run at segment leaders. This is a next-generation family sedan with all the latest technology. Like the outgoing model, the new Optima will be assembled at Kia’s plant in West Point, Georgia.
The 2016 Optima is a full inch wider than its predecessor, and its wheelbase grows by 0.4 inches. Consequently, Optima buyers should notice both improved passenger space (particularly rear-seat legroom) and a larger trunk, according to Kia. Updated amenities abound, including Kia’s first-ever bi-xenon adaptive headlights with automatic high beams, additional soft-touch materials in the cabin, reengineered seats, a height-adjustable front passenger seat, fresh UVO infotainment features and enhanced smartphone integration with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. The Optima’s safety offerings have also been revised to include adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking, a common feature on luxury models that’s still pretty rare among family sedans.
Under the hood, the 2016 Kia Optima offers a new 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that’s familiar from other Hyundai/Kia products. It’s rated at 178 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque for Optima duty, and we expect it to yield fuel economy of 35-40 miles per gallon in highway driving, thanks in part to its exclusive 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. The standard engine will be a carryover 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, while the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder carries on, though it’ll be dialed back to 247 hp and 260 lb-ft (from 274 and 269, respectively), much like the 2.0T engine in the new Hyundai Sonata. Aside from models with the 1.6-liter engine, the transmission will be a battle-tested 6-speed automatic.
Official pricing has not yet been announced as of this writing.
When Can You Get It?
Fourth quarter 2015
Add It to Your Shopping List Because…
The Optima has proven itself as a first-tier family sedan over the past few years, and the 2016 model inherits its predecessor’s strengths while eliminating practically every weakness. It should be a top contender.
Other Cars to Consider
2015 Hyundai Sonata — The Optima’s redesigned corporate cousin has relatively restrained styling, and its interior is as nice as any in the segment.
2015 Volkswagen Passat — If you think the Optima’s visual drama is a bit overdone, the conservative Passat might strike your fancy. Its turbodiesel TDI 4-cylinder engine is still a uniquely appealing offering in this class.
Used Hyundai Genesis — The current Genesis is an amazing car, providing Lexus-like levels of luxury and refinement. If you’re looking at the fancier Optima trim levels, see if there’s a certified pre-owned Genesis in your price range.