2014 Kia Optima SX Turbo

2014 Kia Optima SX Turbo Review

Kia may have a contender.

By: David Merline

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: June 27th, 2014

The fact that the Kia Optima even bears comparison with perennial buyer and reviewer faves like the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry is kind of remarkable, given the poor reputation the South Korean brand had in the United States for its first decade or so.

Yet the Optima has earned its place at the table with the big boys recently, as Kia has seemingly thrown every luxury-class option under the sun into the mix, somehow without slapping on a luxury-class price tag.

The Optima is certainly the most stylish mid-size sedan on the market, and the 2014 model got a few minor exterior tweaks, such as LED headlights and chrome exhaust tips for the SX trim level.

The interior is where this Kia really shines however. It's nothing short of remarkable how well kitted out this car is for under $32,000. The panoramic sunroof alone raises the Optima's interior well above the highest-trimmed Accord in terms of luxuriousness, but throw in the premium sound system, the backup camera, the heated and cooled leather seats (the rear seats are only heated), and the heated steering wheel, and you're deep into Acura/Lexus territory.

Kia's UVO infotainment interface is among the more reliable and less annoyingly buggy on the market, which certainly helps make the interior of the Optima be such an extremely pleasant place to hang out.

Where the Optima fails to best - or indeed match -- its competition is on the road. The SX Turbo has plenty of speed with its turbocharged four pushing 274 horsepower (almost matching the V6 Accord's 278), but the steering has too much give, and the suspension just isn't taut enough to give the Optima the confidence that such a quick accelerating car needs.

Kia has sort of attempted to address this issue with the addition of a driving mode selector (offering Eco, Comfort, and Sport modes), but unfortunately the steering feels about the same in all three modes and other than a bit of throttle boost, there's no real advantage to Sport mode, as the car always seems to dwell in and around Comfort mode.

Still, that's a distinction that the average driver may not care about, and there's still enough to love about the Optima SX Turbo to make it an extremely tempting choice among some of the stiffest competition out there.

  • Specs & Prices

    Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

    Transmission: Electronically controlled, six-speed automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, front-wheel drive

    Power Output: 274 hp / 269 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 20 city / 31 highway

    Price (base): $28,000

    Price (as tested): $33,450 (includes $800 destination charge)

    Available Features:
    Premium package: UVO infotainment system, rear-camera display, back-up warning system, heated-and-cooled front and heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, Infinity surround-sound audio system.

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