Pros: Impressive features-for-the-money quotient; handsome styling; upscale feel inside and out; generous passenger space; peppy performance of available turbocharged engine
Cons: Ride quality and composure trail most midsize-sedan competitors; sharply sloped rear window and large roof pillars hurt rear visibility; engines are a bit noisier/coarser sounding than some class rivals
CG Says: The Kia Optima gets a few new features for 2014. On the outside, Optima receives redesigned front and rear bumpers, air diffuser detailing on the bottom of the rear bumper, a strip of LEDs mounted along the top of the headlights, LED fog lights, and LED taillights. Inside, a new, color LCD screen sits between the speedometer and tachometer in the instrument cluster. Newly available is an 8-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash that governs the audio and infotainment functions. This unit includes navigation with traffic data, an upgraded sound system with 8 speakers, satellite radio, HD Radio, and Pandora streaming audio. Also new are the seats, and blind-spot alert, rear cross-traffic detection, and rear-obstacle detection are available for the first time. The Optima SX gets a feature that adjusts transmission shift points and steering weight at the flick of a switch for a sportier driving feel. With the Optima, Kia strives to provide high-end features and an engaging driving experience at bargain prices, and it mostly succeeds. The interior is stylish and it is offered with many features more commonly found in luxury cars, including ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. Optima’s driving experience is more inspired than most midsize cars, though it does not rank with the best in this class in this regard. Though the up-level Limited Package for SX models is tempting with all the features it carries, a base LX or mid-range EX is the value leader here.