2012 Kia Optima SX
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- Stock #:
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- 2.0L 4 Cylinder Engine
- Exterior Color:
- Corsa Blue
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- Body Style
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Edmunds.com Ratings & Reviews
2012 kia optima
Edmunds.com Expert Review
The 2012 Kia Optima is one of our top picks for a midsize sedan. With evocative styling, a long list of features and enjoyable driving dynamics, it's easy to see why.
For 2012, the Kia Optima receives the optional Uvo voice command system on all but the base models and a minor shuffling of features between trim levels and option packages. The front seats have also been slightly reshaped for improved comfort.Read more
Powerful and fuel-efficient engines; good ride/handling balance; handsome cabin; copious features; top crash scores; impressive value; lengthy warranty.
There was a time, not long ago, when the term "family sedan" was associated with sensible -- but dull -- vehicles. While these volume-selling cars occupied a large chunk of sales, they likely weren't the object of desire. Once in a while, though, a sedan like the 2012 Kia Optima comes along that makes you want it for more reasons than just how sensibly it transports your family.
The 2012 Kia Optima sees few changes from last year, and that suits us just fine. Compared to other family sedans, the Optima is a styling standout, with a level of aggression and modernity inside and out that we're accustomed to seeing in much more expensive cars. Thankfully, this beauty is also more than skin deep, as the Optima also benefits from a better-than-average ride quality and driving dynamics.
Buyers can choose among a mild 200-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, a more potent, 274-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter or the efficient Optima Hybrid model that averages better than 30 mpg in combined driving. And as with other Kias, there's also a lot of value here, with plenty of standard and optional features (including Kia's new Uvo voice command system), an attractive price, long warranty coverage and top safety scores.
The Optima isn't perfect. Headroom may be an issue for some and it's not quite the sport sedan its styling would indicate. We've also found that the hybrid doesn't match its lofty EPA estimates and its advanced components do not operate as smoothly as competing hybrids. But overall this is still a great sedan. Along with the related Hyundai Sonata and new Volkswagen Passat, the regular Optima stacks up very favorably against the venerated Honda Accord and greatly improved new Toyota Camry. To put it simply, the 2012 Kia Optima may be an object of desire, but it's still a sensible family sedan as well.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Kia Optima is a midsize sedan available in five trim levels: LX, EX, EX Turbo, SX and Hybrid.
Standard equipment on the LX (with manual transmission) includes 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, heated mirrors, full power accessories, a height-adjustable driver seat with power lumbar adjustment, air-conditioning, a cooled glovebox, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth, and a sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. Opting for an LX with the automatic transmission gets you alloy wheels, cruise control and the availability of the Convenience package, which consists of an eight-way power driver seat and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The EX comes standard with the Convenience package as well as 17-inch alloy wheels, LED taillights, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air vents, wood interior trim and leather upholstery. The EX Turbo gets a more powerful engine, bigger brakes and a different grille design. The SX is also turbocharged but has a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels, xenon headlights, a rear lip spoiler, unique bumper designs, steering-wheel paddle shifters and an upgraded trip computer. The Optima Hybrid is equipped similarly to the EX, though it has unique 16-inch alloy wheels, a rearview camera and cloth upholstery.
The Technology package (offered for all trims except the manual-equipped LX) adds a rearview camera, a navigation system and, on the LX, dual-zone climate control and rear air vents. The Premium package for the EX and SX adds a panoramic sunroof, a four-way power passenger seat, driver memory functions, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and an eight-speaker Infinity sound system with HD radio and the Uvo voice-activated electronics interface. On the EX and EX Turbo, this package also includes a heated steering wheel. The Hybrid's Premium Technology package effectively combines those two packages and also includes 17-inch wheels, xenon headlights, leather upholstery and the auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Powertrains and Performance
Powering the front-wheel-drive 2012 Kia Optima LX and EX models is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 200 hp and 186 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard on the LX, while a six-speed automatic is standard on this and all other Optimas. In California-emissions states, the Optima has a Super Ultra Low Emissions rating (versus Ultra-Low elsewhere) resulting in a lower power output of 192 hp and 181 lb-ft.
In performance testing, a loaded Optima EX in SULEV form went from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds -- the ULEV Optima will be a bit quicker, but either way, the car is on par with other vehicles in the class. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined regardless of transmission.
The EX Turbo and SX get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. These Optima Turbo models returned a quick 0-60-mph time of 6.5 seconds, along with an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 22/34/26. This is theoretically outstanding for a car with this much power, but as we've discovered in our long-term test of an Optima Turbo, your numbers won't come close to those if you frequently utilize that power.
The Kia Optima Hybrid is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with an electric motor and a six-speed automatic transmission. Combined power output peaks at 206 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration from zero to 60 mph requires 8.4 seconds, which is reasonably quick for a hybrid. The EPA estimates the Optima Hybrid fuel economy at 34/39/36 mpg.
Standard safety features on the 2012 Kia Optima include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, side airbags, side curtain airbags and hill start assist. A rearview camera is optional.
In government crash tests, the Optima earned a top five-star rating for overall safety performance, with five stars awarded for both overall frontal and side-impact tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Optima a top score of "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. In Edmunds brake testing, an Optima EX came to a stop from 60 mph in a class-average distance of 121 feet. The Hybrid and the sportier SX took a few feet more.
Interior Design and Special Features
First impressions of the 2012 Kia Optima's interior are exceptionally favorable. Where most other family sedans in this segment fall somewhere between sedate and bland, the Optima has a distinct European flair. And that should come as no surprise when you consider that Kia's chief designer used to work for Audi. While the Kia's interior isn't as sumptuous as an Audi's, there's an abundance of soft-touch materials, and any hard plastics are at least well textured. The Optima Hybrid's cabin is essentially the same, with a special gauge cluster that displays hybrid power flow and overall driving style efficiency.
This year, Kia's Uvo (pronounced "yoo-voh") electronics interface system is now available on all but the base LX trims. Similar to Ford's Sync system (both are powered by Microsoft), Uvo provides voice control of cell phones and MP3 players as well as other services such as turn-by-turn navigation. In our limited testing of Uvo, we found it to work quite well.
The Optima has a fairly spacious cabin with comfortable seats and a solid amount of legroom front and rear. Headroom (particularly in back) is a bit tight due to the car's rakish, coupelike roof line. Taller folks should definitely think twice about the optional panoramic sunroof, as it further decreases headroom. The Optima's 15.4 cubic feet of trunk space is about average for its class, but the hybrid's drops to a paltry 9.9 cubic feet because of its battery pack placement.
The 2012 Kia Optima's ride quality is comfortable without being isolating, but the same can't be said of its numb steering. Thankfully, the steering is at least firmer and more responsive than its more comfort-tuned Sonata cousin. Overall handling for the Optima is hardly memorable, due mostly to its conservative tire choice, but it's certainly pleasant and better than average for the segment.
Both of the regular four-cylinder engines are impressive. They produce best-in-class power and are paired with responsive and smooth-shifting transmissions. The potential for truly impressive fuel economy is an ample slab of icing on the cake.
Less impressive is the Optima Hybrid. Its electric motor makes accelerating from a dead stop a smooth affair, and at highway cruising speeds the electric motor can aid with quick bursts of acceleration that make the engine almost feel turbocharged. However, in low-speed driving or quickly changing traffic conditions, the hybrid shudders and lurches while deciding which gear it wants. It is similarly unpredictable under braking.
Standard Equipment at time of original manufacture release.
Convenience & Comfort
- Adjustable Steering Wheel
- Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
- Automatic Headlights
- Climate Control
- Cruise Control
- Driver Illuminated Vanity Mirror
- Driver Vanity Mirror
- Engine Immobilizer
- Floor Mats
- Fog Lamps
- Front Reading Lamps
- Heated Mirrors
- HID headlights
- Intermittent Wipers
- Keyless Entry
- Keyless Start
- Leather Steering Wheel
- Multi-Zone A/C
- Passenger Illuminated Visor Mirror
- Passenger Vanity Mirror
- Power Door Locks
- Power Mirror(s)
- Power Outlet
- Power Steering
- Power Windows
- Rear Defrost
- Rear Reading Lamps
- Security System
- Steering Wheel Audio Controls
- Trip Computer
- Universal Garage Door Opener
- Variable Speed Intermittent Wipers
Drivetrain & Engine
- Front Wheel Drive
- Gasoline Fuel
- Transmission w/Dual Shift Mode
- AM/FM Stereo
- Auxiliary Audio Input
- CD Player
- MP3 Player
- Satellite Radio
- 4-Wheel Disc Brakes
- Child Safety Locks
- Driver Air Bag
- Emergency Trunk Release
- Front Head Air Bag
- Front Side Air Bag
- Integrated Turn Signal Mirrors
- Passenger Air Bag
- Passenger Air Bag Sensor
- Rear Head Air Bag
- Stability Control
- Traction Control
Seat & Trim
- Bucket Seats
- Driver Adjustable Lumbar
- Leather Seats
- Pass-Through Rear Seat
- Power Driver Seat
- Rear Bench Seat
Tires & Wheels
- Temporary Spare Tire
- Tire Pressure Monitor
Value Added Features
- Bluetooth Connection
Featured Equipment below have been confirmed on vehicle today. Additional equipment not listed may still be available.
- (2) aux pwr outlets
- 2.0L DOHC GDI 16-valve I4 turbo engine -inc: variable intake system, aluminum block & head
- 3-point front seat belts -inc: pretensioners, force limiters, height-adjustable anchors, emergency locking retractors
- 3-point rear seat belts w/emergency locking retractors
- 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS)
- 5-mph bumpers
- 6-speed automatic transmission w/OD, Sportmatic shifter, H-Matic -inc: Auto Shift lock system, ECO switch
- 60/40 split-folding rear bench seat w/adjustable outboard headrests
- Alloy pedals
- Auto-dimming rearview mirror -inc: HomeLink garage door opener & compass
- Battery saver w/interior lamp auto-cut
- Black gloss & chrome grille
- Black-gloss front side fender garnish w/chrome accents
- Body-color door handles w/chrome trim
- Body-colored bumpers -inc: unique lower sport styling
- Body-colored side moldings -inc: sculpted sport side sills
- Bright chrome door molding
- Carbon fiber appearance door & center console accents -inc: metallic gear shift indicator bezel
- Chrome accent door handles
- Compact spare tire
- Cooling glove box -inc: lighting
- Door map pockets -inc: integrated front/rear in-door bottle holders, dual front mood lamps
- Driver & front passenger seat-mounted side airbags
- Dual advanced front airbags -inc: passenger occupancy sensor
- Dual exhaust w/chrome tips -inc: semi-active muffler
- Dual front assist handles
- Dual sunvisors w/illuminated covered vanity mirrors, extensions
- Dual-flow shock absorbers
- Dual-note horn
- Dual-zone auto climate control w/rear vents, filter
- Electric motor-driven pwr steering
- Electronic fuel lid release
- Emergency trunk release handle
- Engine cover
- Front center console -inc: armrest, storage, cupholder
- Front fog lights
- Front seatback storage pockets
- Front stabilizer bar
- Front wheel drive
- Front/rear crumple zones
- Front/rear reading lamps -inc: front pin lamp
- Front/rear side curtain airbags
- Hill start assist control (HAC)
- Illuminated trunk w/hinge cover
- Impact-absorbing steering column
- Impact-triggered auto door unlocking
- In-glass antenna
- Independent MacPherson strut front suspension w/coil springs
- Independent multi-link rear suspension w/coil springs
- Insulated hood w/gas lifters
- Leather-wrapped shift knob w/metallic grain accents
- LED rear combination lamp
- Lower anchors & tethers for children (LATCH)
- Overhead sunglass holder
- P225/45R18 tires
- Push button start
- Pwr vented front & solid rear disc brakes -inc: oversize discs
- Pwr windows -inc: driver/front passenger one-touch auto up/down
- Rear center armrest w/cupholder
- Rear child safety door locks
- Rear coat hook
- Rear LED high-mounted stop lamp
- Rear window defroster w/timer
- Side-impact door beams
- Solar glass windshield w/sunband
- Sport front bucket seats -inc: 8-way pwr driver seat, driver height adjustment, driver pwr lumbar, dual adjustable headrests
- Sport suspension
- Stainless steel embossed door sill scuff plates w/illumination
- Steering wheel-mounted auto cruise control
- Supervision instrument cluster -inc: gauges, clock, rheostat
- Time-delay interior dome lamp -inc: auto interior light control
- Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)
- Trip computer -inc: color LCD display, distance to empty, average speed, drive time, ambient temp, average fuel economy, instant fuel economy
- Variable intermittent front windshield wipers w/jet washers -inc: aero covers
- Warning features -inc: parking brake on, key-operated chime, seatbelt reminder, low washer fluid
- Xenon HID automatic headlights w/auto-leveling function -inc: black bezel, escort lighting