Inside the 2017 Kia Optima

Mid-sized cars tend to favor practicality over all else. This segment tends to produce vehicles without personalities, draped in neutral colors. The mid-size segment is among the most competitive marketplaces in the world, regardless of industry, which is why it’s surprising the cars tend to be so bland.

A decade ago, Kia Motors would have gladly accepted an adjective like bland as opposed to the adjectives they typically received. 10 years is a long time though, and fortunes can (and have) changed dramatically. In 2002, Volkswagen was a leader in environmentally friendly vehicles and Kia was notable for building clown cars.

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Times change. The Kia Optima represents the new, or at least improved, Kia brand. Kia’s offering in the mid-size segment is competitively priced, competitively styled, competitively equipped, competitively built, and beats the competition with its warranty and service agreements. The Optima has gone from a punchline to a knockout, and the 2017 Kia Optima has received rave reviews.

With an MSRP range of $22,200 up to a fully loaded $36,985, the 2017 Optima offers prospective drivers with a wide selection. The Optima provides strong reliability ratings, excellent safety ratings and one of the best warranties in the business. The 2017 Optima provides a brilliant blend of utility, performance, and value.

Kia Optima Performance Specs

The 2017 Optima is an interesting vehicle for a few reasons. One of the most interesting aspects of the Optima is the sheer number of optional specs the vehicle can be built in. The Optima offers a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine that produces 185hp, a fuel efficient 1.6L turbo that produces 176hp, a 2L turbo engine that produces 245hp, a hybrid offering, and a plug-in hybrid that can generate over 90 miles per gallon.

The Optima is additionally offered in a few different configurations, including a Sportwagon trim and a GT Optima option.

Of course, if the car is junk, all the additional options would be utterly meaningless. However, the Kia Optima is assuredly not junk and its performance ratings demonstrate that neatly. The Optima has received a plenty of praise for its responsive handling and strong acceleration.

Car and Driver listed the 2017 Kia Optima as an Editor’s Choice. For those who are unfamiliar with Car and Driver, C&D tends to focus more on how enjoyable a car is to drive, from a purist’s perspective, as opposed to practicality or utility. That should speak volumes for the Optima’s performance, and the cars utility is undisputed.

Safety and Entertainment Features

Modern cars are held to a much higher standard than they used to be. In terms of safety, seat-belts and strong brakes are no longer enough to impress the modern car buyer, nor should they be.

In terms of safety, the Optima has every available feature imaginable.

The 2017 Optima comes with the following standard features:

  • Front air-bags
  • Side air bags
  • Curtain air-bags
  • Rear view “back up” camera
  • Electronic stability control
  • Vehicle stability management software
  • Tether and latch systems for children
  • Rear child safety locks
  • Tire pressure monitoring
  • Electronic hill start systems

Most of the safety options are available across trim lines as add-ons.

These options include:

  • Rear Parking Assist
  • Blind Spot Detection
  • Rear Cross Traffic Detection

The only safety features not offered to lower trims are:

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Forward Collision Warnings
  • Lane Departure Warnings

The 2017 Optima is not lacking in entertainment features, either. All Optima trims include a touch-screen and infotainment system. Four trims have a 7″ touch screen either standard or optional; the highest trim SX Limited has a standard 8″ touch-screen. All trims have Android and Apple integration available with Bluetooth wireless available.

All trim levels have audio, infotainment, and Bluetooth phone connectivity via steering wheel controls. Premium audio is available in the three highest trim levels. The Optima also offers USB and 12-Volt jacks and an auxiliary in across all trim levels, with more USB integration available at higher trim levels.

Fuel Efficiency

The exact fuel efficiency of the Kia Optima depends on which specific engine has been selected for the vehicle, as well which body type is being used, as well. The Sportwagon has more weight, and therefore less fuel efficiency, but those ratings are not yet available.

  • The 1.6L Turbo is rated as 28mpg city, 37mpg highway for a combined 31mpg
  • The 2.4L DOHC engine is rated as 28mpg city, 37mpg highway for a combined 31mpg
  • The 2.0L Turbo is rated as 22mpg city, 31mpg highway for a combined 25mpg
  • The unreleased Hybrid is rated as 39mpg city and 46mpg highway rating. Combined is not available yet.
  • The Plug-In Hybrid is expected get up to 90+mpg fuel efficiency.

The 2017 Optima has good fuel efficiency across the trim and engine lines. Even the performance turbo engine has better fuel efficiency than some of its competition with similar horsepower and torque ratings.

How Does the Optima Stack Up?

As already stated, the mid-size car segment is among the most competitive markets in any industry on the planet. Every car company is trying to elbow their way into this lucrative area and many are willing to go the extra mile to woo customers.

Despite the stiff competition, the Kia Optima has earned a top spot for 2017. The Optima has been ranked up among the heavyweights, including the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Mazda 6, which has long been a favorite of enthusiast magazines like Car and Driver and Auto Week.

The Kia Optima offers a better warranty than almost all of its rivals, with a 6-year, 60,000 mile basic warranty and a 10 year, 100,000 mile warranty on the power-train.

In short, the Kia Optima competes with its segment in every category. It’s well rated and well-reviewed, and there are no vehicles outside the luxury car market that can match its features and options.

Pros and Cons

Here are a list of the pros and cons of the 2017 Kia Optima.

First, the pros:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Great standard features
  • Number of options across trim packages
  • Excellent warranty
  • Great reviews for performance and ride

Finally, the cons:

  • A standard, as opposed to luxury, sedan
  • Optima is a jack of all trades, but a master of none
  • Kia still seen as a “lesser” brand

Conclusion

The 2017 Kia Optima is a strong contender for the best mid-size sedan of the year. With strong performance, a comfortable interior, and generally positive reviews, there is very little to find fault with this entry.

While the Kia Optima does not excel in any particular regard, the sum of its parts puts it on par with any of its competitors.

Not only is the Kia Optima is likely the best value in the whole segment, it’s also fun to drive and backed up with great reliability and the best warranty in the industry.

In short, the 2017 Kia Optima is an excellent car.

Grzegorz Czapski / Shutterstock, Inc.

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