The 2016 Optima is arriving in showrooms this month featuring fresh style, tech and mechanicals.
Despite initially very-familiar looks for this wider and longer-wheelbased model, the design is new. Organic flow to the body surfacing and even the trademark roof accents is now more flowing and less choppy. The angular look with sharp edges has been smoothed out nicely. Example? Check out the clean doors and sills. Just pure and impressive lines.
The proportions are enhanced via a new-look rear quarter window and dark roof on the loaded SX and SXL models. The overall effect helps the Optima look rear-drive from some angles. The loaded SXL, though, wears a 1998-level of chrome outside. Really tacky stuff — questionable taste decisions on Kia’s part.
But the nose and tail are impressively clean, modern and upscale. The tail is arguably more successful, with its new wide LED lamps full of glitzy optics, at least on the SXL shown here.
The engines in base 2.4-liter and options 2.0-liter turbo continue for 2016 — but add an all-star rung in between. The LX 1.6T is near the bottom of the range, but this is arguably the one to go for. The 1.4-liter turbo feels strong and the DCT is excellent, as sampled on the Hyundai Sonata ECO for 2015.
2016 Kia Optima
2016 OPTIMA OVERVIEW
Kia’s Best-Selling Nameplate is Passionately Designed and Obsessively Crafted with European Styling, a Refined Premium Interior and Significant Ride and Handling Improvements
- Optima matures into an expertly crafted sedan with two turbo engine choices and five trims, including the U.S.-exclusive SXL
- Built at Kia’s U.S. plant*, Optima features reduced NVH and a more responsive, confident ride
LAS VEGAS, Sept. 9, 2015 – The all-new 2016 Optima challenges the midsize sedan segment through significant improvements in refinement and obsessive attention to detail. An instant hit with consumers looking for a fresh alternative to an otherwise staid segment, the Optima has been Kia Motors America’s (KMA) top-selling vehicle for three consecutive years, and the all-new model is poised to continue that success.
Conceived under the watchful eye of Kia’s president and chief design officer, Peter Schreyer, with modern and instantly recognizable design cues, the Optima maintains its athletic identity but rides on a chassis that is longer, wider and stiffer for improved ride and handling and a more spacious cabin. Available with three engine choices, including a new 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that’s mated to a seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), the Optima is more confident than ever on the road. The all-new Optima’s roomier, more luxurious cabin features an impressive level of craftsmanship that will come standard across five trim levels – LX, LX 1.6T, EX, SX and SXL. Like the outgoing model, the all-new Optima will be built at Kia’s plant* in West Point, Georgia. Pricing will be announced closer to the vehicle’s launch date.
“The Optima changed the way people felt about the Kia brand, and KMA owes much of its growth and success to its head-turning design and sporty performance. The all-new Optima encompasses everything the outgoing model did so well but does it better. It has matured in all the right ways; from the European sport-sedan design to the premium materials to its improved ride and handling,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning KMA. “The all-new Optima retains the signature personality of its predecessor, but we’ve literally improved everything; providing more space, better ergonomics, more technology and greater refinement.”
Instantly Recognizable European Design
Because the previous generation Optima was such a success story for the brand, Kia’s designers had to strike a delicate balance, retaining the identity of the vehicle while, at the same time, making a confident move forward to keep the car modern and fresh. Sweeping contemporary surfaces and modern architecture inspired the design of the all-new Optima, revealing a sophisticated and dynamic sedan that is instantly recognizable yet has more road presence than ever.
The all-new Optima is boldly designed to be functional and sporty with exterior dimensions that are marginally longer, taller and wider. The wheelbase has been extended to 110.4 inches (increased 0.4 inches), and the vehicle has been widened to 73.2 inches (increased 1.0 inch). Both changes enable a roomier and more comfortable cabin with more head room, shoulder room and rear seat leg room. The increased dimensions also allow for more cargo capacity in the trunk.
The aggressive front clip pulls the sheet metal taut over the wheel arches, and the swept-back headlights reach deeply into the fenders. On the SX and SXL trims, Kia’s signature tiger-nose grille is hot stamped and composed into a sophisticated pinpoint design that bears a strong resemblance to Kia’s luxury sedan, the K9001. The all-new Optima introduces Kia’s first application of Bi-Xenon HID headlights – with available Dynamic Bending Lamps and High Beam Assist – that illuminate the tarmac around corners.
The greenhouse silhouette maintains the raked A-pillar and sweeping C-pillar that lend the Optima its sport-sedan appearance. The rear quarter windows kick up smartly just ahead of the carved rear fenders. As with its predecessor, the all-new Optima incorporates a raised deck lid, and the use of available LED halo-style tail lights mimics that of the Cadenza premium sedan.
The 2016 Optima rides on alloy wheels ranging from 16 to 18 inches, with three new unique 18-inch wheel designs, depending on trim level. Three new exteriors colors complement the latest Optima’s sophisticated styling: a vibrant blue inspired by a sparkling ocean underneath a sunny sky; a dynamic grey with olive undertones, and a deep red that gains depth from the use of aluminum pigments.
Exquisite Interior Craftsmanshipz
Optima’s interior is larger and more comfortable with an innovative and functional cabin that is well-appointed with class-up touches. Drawing inspiration from Kia’s premium and luxury sedans, the Optima utilizes more soft-touch materials throughout the passenger compartment. Optima’s luxurious interior is obsessively crafted with an impressive attention to detail and features real stitching along the dash and doors, complemented by tasteful metallic accents, varying by trim level. The driver-oriented cabin has been simplified with a cleaner, more unified design than the previous generation, with a stronger horizontal plane and a wider center console that help create a greater sense of space. By grouping and reducing the number of functional keys and buttons, Kia’s already-superior ergonomics are markedly improved.
The interior design team also paid particular attention to seat comfort. A stiffer seat frame reduces vibration and soft foam in the headrest and upper back, and denser, more supportive foam in thigh-support areas allows occupants to nestle into seats with deeper side bolsters. For extra convenience, heated and ventilated front seats are available with power adjustable driver and front passenger seats. For added convenience, the 2016 Optima offers a height-adjustable front passenger seat, a feature normally found only in premium vehicles. Depending on trim level, the seats are covered in cloth, leather or luxurious Nappa leather trim and two new interior colors – a rich merlot and a dark aubergine – are available.
Convenience and Technology
Kia’s cutting-edge connectivity system, UVO2, comes standard with four additional eServices not previously available on Optima: Geo-fencing, Speed Alert, Curfew Alert and Driving Score3. Additionally, Optima is Kia’s pilot vehicle for the introduction of AndroidTM4 Auto and Apple®5 CarPlay (late availability), which allow drivers to access a suite of core functions from their smartphones. After connecting their smartphone to the head unit via the vehicle’s front USB port (two additional fast-charge USB ports and rear 12V outlet are located in the center console for the front and rear seat passengers), the 8-inch touchscreen screen displays the smartphone’s most important features. Core functions including music (new SoundHound app), messaging, navigation and voice calls are available via the screen, the steering wheel or via voice command2. Kia is one of the first to deliver this technology, which is available for select Android phones operating with Lollipop or Apple phones operating with iOS8.X or higher.
While the standard six-speaker audio system will satisfy all but the most demanding enthusiasts, true audiophiles will gravitate to a Kia first-ever available Harman/Kardon QuantumLogic™6 Premium Surround Sound Audio System7, which includes 10 speakers, Clari-Fi™8 technology and an upgraded 630-watt digital amplifier. Clari-Fi is a patented music restoration technology that rebuilds audio signals that are lost in the digital compression process. This technology breathes new life into your favorite music, restoring a high-fidelity listening experience to any compressed digital source. Optima’s Harman/Kardon premium audio system also comes equipped with next-generation QuantumLogic™ Surround Sound technology, which extracts signals from the original recording and redistributes them into an authentic, multidimensional soundstage for playback that is clear, refined and detailed. Kia was one of the first automakers to incorporate Clari-Fi technology into their audio systems with the debut of the 2016 Sorento, and Optima is the first-ever Kia sedan to feature QuantumLogic Premium Surround Sound technology.
The all-new Optima takes convenience to the next level with a long list of available technologies across the various trim levels. Available on every Optima is a rear-camera display8 while SX and SXL trims offer an available 360-degree Surround-View Monitor8. Available driver-aid technology, including Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC), Blind Spot Detection (BSD)with Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Rear Parking Assist System (RPAS), Front Collision Warning System (FCWS), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)8 – which, under appropriate conditions, will bring the vehicle to a complete stop to potentially avoid a collision or reduce damage – makes the task of driving easier and more convenient. Also available for the first time on any Kia vehicle are Bi-Xenon HID headlights with Dynamic Bending Lamps (DBL) and intuitive High Beam Assist (HBA), which recognizes oncoming traffic and automatically switches the lights to low beam until the opposing vehicle has passed.
Smart Performance and Safety
The 2016 Optima features a uniquely engineered body that combines various high-tensile strength steel alloys and sits on a chassis that is stiffer and more durable thanks to the increased use of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS). With more than 50 percent of the body constructed from AHSS, the all-new Optima represents a 150-percent increase over the previous car. The greater use of structural adhesive by more than 450 percent over the previous generation improves NVH and contributes to structural rigidity. Engineers also added more hot stamped components to the all-new Optima, a 200 percent increase over the 2015 model. This body structure helps provide crash protection, better driving dynamics, and is the foundation for a quieter ride.
Additional innovations were implemented to reduce NVH, lighten the vehicle and enhance aerodynamics. The 2016 Optima is the first Kia to feature a panoramic sunroof support structure made with carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, which helps reduce weight and lower the vehicle’s center of gravity. A larger full floor under cover helps reduce wind noise and aid fuel efficiency. Increased dash insulation, added windshield side molding, acoustic laminated front door windows and the increased use of structural adhesive ensure a quiet ride with reduced road and wind noise. Engine mounts, body panels and wheels all are stiffer on the all-new Optima, reducing vibrations, engine noise and road noise. Larger cross-member bushings are utilized to help isolate road and engine noise, as well as reducing engine vibration through the floor and steering wheel.
Improving ride and handling was a top priority for engineers. Overall, the chassis is lighter and stiffer, resulting in improved steering response, high-speed stability and handling. Moving the suspension points outward optimizes suspension geometry for a smoother ride over uneven pavement. Where the previous Optima made due with dual bushing mounts, increased lateral stiffness was achieved with a four-bushing mount system for both sub-frames. The increased stiffness pays dividends in improved steering response and tractability through corners. More robust wheel bearings up front and the addition of larger dual lower control arms at the rear also help refine the all-new Optima’s ride and handling characteristics. Available Rack-mounted Motor Driven Power Steering (R-MDPS) improves steering response with a higher gear ratio.
The all-new Optima is available with three engine choices, striking a performance balance between sportiness and fuel efficiency. Two powerplants carry over from the previous generation, the 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder, available on the LX and EX models, and the 2.0-liter GDI turbo engine, available on the SXL and SX models. While the engines have yet to receive EPA certification, the 2.4-liter produces 185 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 178 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. The 2.0-liter turbo generates 245 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 260 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,350 rpm. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with Sportmatic® shifting while the SX and SXL trims add paddle shifters. Both engines have been retuned for fuel economy9 and better performance and drivability with maximum torque now available at a lower RPM.
All new for the 2016 model is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo engine. The 1.6-liter will be offered on the LX trim. Pushing out 178 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and a stout 195 lb.-ft. of torque at just 1,500 rpm, the new engine mates to a seven-speed DCT, a first for the Kia brand. The transmission optimizes the engine’s responsiveness for a sporty feel that doesn’t sacrifice fuel economy. Also new for the Optima, Michelin®10 tires are available on select trims. All three engines channel energy through the front wheels.
About Kia Motors America
Kia Motors America (KMA) is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA proudly serves as the “Official Automotive Partner” of the NBA and LPGA and set an all-time annual sales record in 2014, surpassing the 500,000 unit mark for the third consecutive year. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles, including the rear-drive K900** flagship sedan, Cadenza premium sedan, Sorento CUV, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Soul Electric Vehicle***, Sportage compact CUV, Optima midsize sedan, Optima Hybrid, the Forte compact sedan, Forte5 and Forte Koup, Rio and Rio 5-door subcompacts and the Sedona midsize multi-purpose vehicle, through a network of more than 765 dealers across the United States. Kia’s U.S. manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia, builds the Optima* and Sorento* and is responsible for the creation of more than 15,000 plant and supplier jobs.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.