2015 Kia Optima SX Turbo Review

Canadians like value. It’s why our favourite restaurants have a 99-cent menu, why our favourite shoe stores have 2-for-1 sales, and why we’ll typically wait until Black Friday to rampage irately into the nearest Wal-Mart for cheap goodies. It’s also why the Kia Optima has become a popular pick for Canadian shoppers after a family sedan that’s full of the little extras that help add value to the family-sedan equation.

What is the 2015 Kia Optima?

The 2015 Optima is a gorgeously styled, generously equipped family sedan that competes with the Camry, Accord, Malibu, Fusion, 200, Passat, and numerous other contenders from around the globe that all vie for your hard-earned money.

2015 Kia Optima Pricing and Specs

For 2015, the freshly updated Optima comes in at $24,795 with 192 standard horsepower in LX grade, and a generous list of standard features. The high-value EX grade model, with numerous included must-haves, is priced at $27,495, with the high-grade EX Luxury model priced at $31,495. The sporty Optima SX adds visual and chassis upgrades, as well as premium interior hardware, from $33,195. Then, there’s the SX Turbo (like my tester), which comes fully loaded only and is priced at $34,895. All units are front-drive.

Driving the 2015 Kia Optima SX Turbo

The Optima’s ride is pleasing most of the time — taut, fairly agile, well sorted, and comfy. Drivers will likely appreciate the sensation of the suspension working to filter out unpleasantness on rough roads, while offering a slightly sporty feel that’s balanced nicely against a comfortable cruising ride. It feels a touch European, and that’s a good thing. Handling, further, is tidy and well sorted. Steering inputs required for quick-navigation winding roads are fairly large, but the Optima rewards drivers with clean, tidy, and flat handling, as well as an above-average feeling of agility when they push a little. Steering feel on the highway is on the heavy side, though the on-centre stiffness hangs on, perhaps a touch too long when driver’s steer, creating a slightly awkward feel at times.

The up-level 2.0L engine uses four little cylinders and a punchy turbocharger to turn out 274 horsepower. It performs at or above the level of a comparable 6-cylinder unit when you give it a bootfull of gas, but uses less fuel, more of the time. Plus, there’s a “TURBO” badge on the fenders, telling would-be stoplight racers not to screw around.

The powerplant is smooth, refined, and never feels like it’s working too hard. At full throttle, the flat and shapeless power curve and dull exhaust note take away from the entertainment value, though the generous low- and mid-range torque mean it’s an engine most impressive when you’re driving moderately or gently, since it rarely needs to gear down and barely makes a peep, even while hauling the Optima up to speed with a nearly mischievous urgency.

Inside and Out of the 2015 Kia Optima SX Turbo

The Optima launched originally with a look that was a true step above: full of lines and details and shapes once reserved for concept cars under the glimmering lights of the auto show floor. Now, the updates — with quad-cluster LED fog-lamps and revised fascia — advance that even further. It might not cost a lot, but your neighbors will probably think you paid more than you did.

The cabin is a big value-adder. It’s not a Bentley inside — but few competitors (especially at this price) use as much leather, contrast stitching, and depth towards a rich and detailed look like you’ll find in here. The shape of the dashboard and console and even the way the steering-wheel mounted switches are arranged and how they feel are a bit on the upscale side. Little touches, yes, but they add up. Plus, the two-tone seats and the driver-focused layout to the controls help the cabin hit a bit harder than its price suggests. Don’t miss the flat-bottomed steering wheel with thumb notches, just like a race car. Other notes? Rear seats are deep, pillow-y and comfortable, and the punchy Infinity audio system handles music playback with potency.
Feature content was generous, including a full panoramic glass roof, memory seating with heated and chilled leather, and automatic or self-activating climate control, lights, wipers. Blind-spot monitoring mirrors and a high-resolution backup camera help add confidence, too.
You get navigation and satellite radio and voice command and steering-wheel mounted controls for easy access to directions, entertainment, and other vehicle functions. This central command screen is worth mentioning, too — it’s one of the easiest-to-use, best-looking and most intuitive you’ll find when cross-shopping the competition. Very straightforward. Usually, these all-in-one interfaces make me angry — like Italian angry — at least a few times on every test drive. Not here. This one’s a cinch.

Comparing the 2015 Kia Optima

At the end of the day, when a long list of features, stand-out styling, and stand-out value in its segment are priorities, shoppers should consider the Optima a priority test-drive, along with other strikingly styled, high-value models like the Ford Fusion, Chrysler 200, and Hyundai Sonata.