Kia has made huge strides as far as overall quality and design goes since the brand entered the U.S. Market. That is more evident than ever in the 2016 Kia Optima. In terms of exterior styling, the new Optima gained restyled headlights and a new, more aggressive front fascia. The grille is now sleeker, and the side body profile is much sleeker than before. On the inside, Kia looked to its larger vehicles for inspiration, which resulted in an upscale, premium interior with quality and finish that is normally reserved for more luxurious nameplates. The center stack is even graced with an 8-inch UVO2 infotainment and connectivity system. Under the hood, Kia played the fuel economy game. Instead of upgrading, Kia opted to carry over the 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter from the previous generation with a decrease in power to accommodate an increase in fuel economy. A 1.6-liter, turbocharged unit has also been added to the list of powertrain options for 2016.

As you can see, Kia has a lot to be proud of when it comes to the new Optima. It’s not surprising, considering it was also inspired by the Sportspace Concept. The newly styled sedan raises the bar for styling and interior space and brings plenty of premium features that make it one comfortable chariot of those longer road trips. It’s hard to believe Kia has come this far, but it surely has. So, with that said, let’s look into the specifics of the new Optima and why it’s a major competitor for the midsized sedan market.

Updated 10/13/2015: Kia announced prices for the 2016 Optima which will go on sale in in five trim levels – LX, LX 1.6T, EX, SX and SXL. Prices will range from $21,840 for the LX with a 2.4-liter engine up to $35,790 for the SXL version equipped with the 2.0-liter turbocharged GDI 4-cylinder engine.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Kia Optima.

  • 2016 Kia Optima
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    185 @ 6000
  • Torque @ RPM:
    178 @ 4000
  • Displacement:
    2.4 L (Est.)
  • 0-60 time:
    8.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    152 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; FWD
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:


2016 Kia Optima
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2016 Kia Optima High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Kia Optima
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Not surprisingly, the Optima’s new design is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, building on the handsome cues of the third-generation sedan

Not surprisingly, the Optima’s new design is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, building on the handsome cues of the third-generation sedan. The slightly reshaped "tiger nose" grille is now both wider and narrower, while the headlamps have been redesigned to blend in perfectly. The lower grille is also wider on the new car, while the foglamps received vertical surrounds on top of being moved further toward the fenders. Thanks to these modifications, the front fascia is more aggressive.

The third-gen Optima cues are more visible around back, but there are plenty of details that make this sedan stand out. The taillights are new and equipped with LED technology, while the trunk lid features crisper character lines. Down below, the revised diffuser-like element houses a pair of massive exhaust pipes. Most of these details are obviously inspired by the Kia Sportspace Concept shown at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

The profile of the sedan is largely similar to its predecessor, but with notable differences in the side skirt and rear quarter glass area. The latter is no longer included in the rear door, and that’s one detail I don’t fancy. It makes the Optima look neither stylish nor sportier, and I simply don’t see why Kia opted for a longer glasshouse area. Designers, eh?

Exterior Dimensions

Overall length 4,855 MM (191.1 Inches)
Overall width 1,860 MM (73.2 Inches)
Overall height without roof rails mm/(in.) 1,465 MM (57.6 Inches)
Wheelbase 2,805 MM (110.4 Inches)


2016 Kia Optima High Resolution Interior
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The attention to detail is exemplary and the stitching on the dashboard and the doors, as well as the tasteful metallic accents, make the new Optima’s interior a nice place to spend time in

As with most redesigns, the Optima’s new interior is both larger and more comfortable. The big news here, however, is that Kia used its larger sedans for inspiration when it designed the cabin, resulting in a more premium interior with a range of details usually found in luxury vehicles. The attention to detail is exemplary and the stitching on the dashboard and the doors, as well as the tasteful metallic accents, make the new Optima’s interior a nice place to spend time in. The cleaner design of the center stack, now sporting fewer buttons and knobs, helps improve this feeling.

Comfort was another focus for Kia while designing the fourth-gen car. A stiffer seat frame reduces vibration, while both the driver and passenger seats are now heated, ventilated, and power-adjustable. More convenience comes with the height-adjustable front passenger seat, a feature normally found only in premium sedans. Speaking of seats, they are covered in cloth in lower trim levels and either leather or Nappa leather in the more expensive one. Two new interior colors, Rich Merlot and Dark Aubergine, were introduced for 2016.

Tech upgrades include Kia’s UVO2 connectivity system and an 8-inch color touchscreen, which integrates with both Android Lollipop and iOS 8. A six-speaker audio system comes standard, but audiophiles will have access to the optional, fancier Infinity Premium Audio System6, which includes 14 speakers, Clari-Fi technology, and a 630-watt digital amplifier.

The new Optima’s interior is also a lot quieter now, thanks to stiffer engine mounts, body panels and wheels, which help reduce vibrations, engine noise and road noise. Larger cross-member bushings further isolate road and engine noise, as well as reduce engine vibration through the floor.


2016 Kia Optima High Resolution Interior Exterior Drivetrain AutoShow
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The Optima’s familiar engine lineup will be joined by a 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder for 2016

Under the hood, Kia will continue to offer the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder and the turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-banger of the third-generation sedan, as well as the six-speed automatic transmission. However, both engines have been retuned for better fuel economy with slight drops in power and torque. The 2.4-liter’s output dropped from 192 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque to 185 horses and 178 pound-feet, while the 2.0-liter turbo lost 27 horses and nine pound-feet from 2015, now churning 247 horsepower and 260 pound-feet.

Kia didn’t release fuel economy estimates for the new power ratings. Expect 0-to-60 sprints to come slower with both engines. The current models reach the benchmark in 8.5 and 7.2 seconds, respectively.

The Optima’s familiar engine lineup will be joined by a 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder for 2016. The unit is similar to the one offered in the Kia Forte and Hyundai Veloster and cranks out 178 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of twist through the brand’s first seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. No fuel consumption rating from this one either as of April 2015.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type 2.4-liter Four-cylinder 1.6-liter Turbo Four-cylinder 2.0-liter Turbo Four-cylinder
Valve System Intake ECVVT Intake ECVVT DOHC with dual CVVT
Estimated horsepower 185 HP @ 6,000 RPM 178 HP @ 5,500 RPM 247 HP @ 6,000 RPM
Estimated torque 178 LB-FT @ 4,000 RPM 195 LB-FT @ 1,500 RPM 260 LB-FT @ 1,350 RPM
Displacement (cc) 144 (2,359 cc) 97 (1,596 cc) 122 (1998 cc)
Compression Ratio 11.3:1 10.0:1 10.0:1


2016 Kia Optima High Resolution Exterior
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Model Description MSRP
Optima LX 2.4L GDI I-4 - 6 A/T $21,840.00
Optima LX Turbo 1.6L GDI I-4 - 6 A/T $23,990.00
Optima EX 2.4L GDI I-4 - 6 A/T $24,890.00
Optima SX Turbo 2.0L T-GDI I-4 - 6 A/T $29,690.00
Optima SXL Turbo 2.0L T-GDI I-4 - 6 A/T $35,790.00


Aurora Black Pearl Paint $295.00
Convenience Package $1,850.00
Turbo Launch Edition $2,700.00
Technology Package $2,600.00
Premium Package $3,700.00
Premium Technology Package $4,800.00
Snow White Pearl Paint $295.00
Premium Audio Package $1,200.00
Rear Bumper Appliqué $75.00
Cargo Mat $95.00
Carpeted Floor Mats $130.00
Cargo Hook $25.00
Cargo Net $50.00
Cargo Tray $80.00
Door Sill Appliqué $110.00
Autodimming Mirror with Compass and Homelink® $350.00
Mud Guards $100.00
Paint Protection Film Package $250.00
Remote Start (Key Start) $425.00
Remote Start (Push-Button Start) $425.00
Wheel Locks $55.00


Ford Fusion

2014 Ford Fusion High Resolution Exterior
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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 U.S., 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 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.

Read more about it in our full review here.


2014 Mazda6 i Touring - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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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’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. The Mazda6 retails from $21,190, but it can fetch in excess of $30,000 in the range-topping Grand Touring trim.

Find out more in our detailed review here.


2016 Kia Optima
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The Kia Optima evolved dramatically with the arrival of the third-generation model, which was penned by former Audi chief designer Peter Schreyer. The German’s modern cues and Kia’s attention to details, as well as its powerful and fuel-efficient engines granted the Optima access to an wider audience and enabled it to compete against vehicles it couldn’t have a decade ago. The fourth-gen car is here to prove the trend will continue, with Kia now pushing the Optima even higher on the luxury ladder and adding a touch of aggressiveness to its design with the new styling. Of course, the Optima still doesn’t have what it takes to compete with the likes of the BMW 5 Series, but it’s more than suited to give the Ford Fusion and the Mazda6 a run for their money.

  • Leave it
    • Less powerful engines
    • Still fighting for brand cachet
    • Tough segment

Updated History

Updated 04/01/2015: The new Kia Optima made its world debut at the 2015 New York Auto Show.

Updated 03/26/2015: With just a few days before the car’s official debut at the 2015 New York Auto Show, Kia unveiled a first official image for the 2016 Optima.

Teaser Images

2016 Kia Optima Drawings
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2016 Kia Optima Drawings
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Spy Shots

September 2, 2014 - First testing session

2016 Kia Optima Exterior Spyshots
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2016 Kia Optima Exterior Spyshots
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2016 Kia Optima Exterior Spyshots
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Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert -
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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Press Release

Five years ago Kia Motors America (KMA) debuted the re-designed Optima at the New York International Auto Show and introduced a game-changing midsize sedan that catalyzed the brand’s design-led transformation. History was repeated when the all-new 2016 Optima, a symbol of the Kia brand’s maturation through continuous refinement and obsessive attention to detail, made its debut here today. An instant hit with consumers looking for a fresh alternative to an otherwise staid segment, the Optima has been KMA’s top-selling vehicle for three consecutive years, and the all-new model is poised to continue that success.

2016 Kia Optima
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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 Turbo, EX, SX Turbo and SXL – when sales begin in the fourth quarter of 2015. As with its predecessor, 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. It was – and still is to this day – a fresh alternative in the midsize sedan segment, and it amplified a five-year design-led transformation that propelled Kia to record-setting sales year-on-year,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president, sales and marketing, KMA. “The all-new Optima retains the signature personality of its predecessor, but we’ve literally improved everything, providing more space, better ride and handling, 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-functional HID headlights – with available Dynamic Bending Lamps and High Beam Assist – that illuminate the tarmac around corners.

2016 Kia Optima High Resolution Exterior
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The greenhouse silhouette maintains the raked A-pillar and sweeping C-pillar that lend the Optima its sport-sedan appearance. The rear vent 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 compliment 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 Craftsmanship
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, complimented 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, upper back and thigh-support areas allows occupants to nestle into seats with deeper side bolsters made with denser, more supportive foam. 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 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 fast-charge USB port (another fast-charge USB port is located in the rear seat), the 8-inch touchscreen screen displays the smartphone’s most important features. Core functions including music, 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. Any future third-party apps that are added by either Android or Apple will be available for customers to enjoy from their respective app store.

2016 Kia Optima High Resolution Exterior
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While the standard six-speaker audio system will satisfy all but the most demanding enthusiasts, true audiophiles will gravitate to the available Infinity® Premium Audio System6, which includes 14 speakers, Clari-Fi™7 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 premium Infinity audio system also comes equipped with next-generation QuantumLogic™7 Surround 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 Surround 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 Around View Monitor8. Available driver-aid technology, including Advanced Smart Cruise Control (SCC)8, Blind Spot Detection (BSD)8, Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)8 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-function 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 350-percent increase over the 2015 model. This body structure helps provide crash protection, better driving dynamics, and is the foundation for a quieter ride.

2016 Kia Optima High Resolution Interior
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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 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 location points of the front and rear sub-frames 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 Turbo models. While the engines have yet to receive EPA certification, the 2.4-liter is estimated to produce 185 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 178 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. The 2.0-liter turbo is expected to generate approximately 247 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 an estimated 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 all trims. All three engines channel energy through the front wheels.

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