2016 Kia Optima

Introduced in 2000, the first-generation Kia Optima was essentially a rebadged Hyundai Sonata. Only minor exterior styling details and equipment packages set it apart from its Hyundai sibling. The sedan arrived in U.S. dealerships for the 2001 model year with a V-6 engine under the hood. A redesigned, second-gen model was launched in 2005. The new Optima differed further from the Hyundai Hyundai Sonata it was based on. The vehicle was slightly larger and received a wide range of four-cylinder and V-6 engines. The Kia Optima Kia Optima was revamped yet again for the 2011 model year. Now sharing its underpinnings with the Hyundai i40 Hyundai i40 , the third-gen Optima saw the introduction of Kia’s new design language, which included the already familiar "tiger nose" front grille and "ice cube" LED headlamps. A huge success for Kia, the third-gen Optima will retire after the 2015 model year to make way for a redesigned sedan.

A fourth-generation Optima is already being tested in Germany, according to our spy photographers, who have supplied us with a preliminary set of photos. Naturally, the mid-size sedan is camouflaged to the teeth, leaving very few details for us to ogle at. Read on to find out what we know so far.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Kia Optima.

Spy Shots

September 2, 2014 - First testing session

Kia Optima
Kia Optima
Kia Optima

The 2016 Optima will definitely see important visual updates, but we expect Kia not to stray too far from the current design. While the third-gen model was a huge improvement over its predecessor, the fourth-gen sedan is likely to retain most of the styling cues we’re already familiar with. The vehicle seems to be similar in overall shape and size, and a closer look at the front end reveals there’s revised "tiger nose" grille underneath the black camo. The headlamps also appear to carry a similar configuration, but more changes are likely to have occurred in the bumper and hood area.

Things are even more mysterious around back, where every inch of metal and plastic are well obscured. The only details we can make out is that the lower apron and the exhaust tips seem to have remained unchanged. On the other hand, there’s no guarantee Kia has finished redesigning the car. For all we know, we could be looking at a prototype that still carries body parts from the third-generation Optima.

The drivetrain is likely to remain unchanged, meaning customers will get the same 2.4-liter, inline-four engine mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. The unit is currently rated at 192 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, but these figures are likely to see a mild increase. The redesigned sedan will make its global debut sometime in 2015.

Kia Optima

Competitors

Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion

The Fusion is a solid choice if you’re looking for a family sedan. It has an attractive design with an Aston Martin-like front end and a cleverly-designed, well-equipped interior. Three engines are available in the United States, beginning with the base 2.5-liter, Duratec inline-four, which delivers 175 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque.

Those in need of more power and better fuel economy can go for the 1.5-liter EcoBoost and its 181 horses and 185 pound-feet. The four-banger returns 36 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in the city. Lastly, the range-topping 2.0-liter EcoBoost generates up to 240 ponies and 270 pound-feet of torque. Pricing for the 2015 model year starts at $22,400, but the Fusion can fetch more than $36,500 in its most expensive trim.

Mazda6

Mazda6 i Touring - Driven

The Mazda6 got a complete overhaul for the 2014 model year. The exterior embraced the company’s new "Kodo - Soul of Motion" design language and Mazda Mazda ’s full range of SkyActiv technology. The driver-oriented cabin gained higher quality materials, a more attractive design, enhanced legroom, and more shoulder room in the back. A 5.8-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, rearview camera, and voice command are only a few of the goodies the Mazda6 comes with even in its base trim.

Motivating the sedan is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder unit that cranks out 184 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 185 pound-feet of torque at only 3,250 rpm. Also available on the Grand Touring model is the i-ELOOP system, which uses the kinetic energy created when braking to create electricity that it is later used to power the headlights, audio system and climate control. The stored energy reduces the amount of time the vehicle has to rely on the engine-driven alternator, which increases fuel economy by about 2 mpg.


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