2016 Kia Optima Preview

Jeff Youngs | Apr 02, 2015
  • Redesigned for 2016
  • Larger inside and out
  • More refined and comfortable
  • Improved driving dynamics
  • New infotainment and safety systems
  • Available high-mpg engine choice
  • LX, LX Turbo, EX, SX Turbo, SX Limited trim levels


2016 Kia OptimaKia credits the current Optima sedan with "catalyzing" the automaker's American brand transformation, a stature reflected in the fact that this midsize sedan has been the company's best-selling model for three years running.

"The Optima changed the way people felt about the Kia brand, and Kia Motors America 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," said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Kia Motors America.

For 2016, this important model is completely redesigned, larger inside and out, equipped with a stiffer structure and improved driving dynamics, and offered with updated infotainment and safety systems. When it goes on sale in the fall of 2015, the new 2016 Optima will be available in LX, LX Turbo, EX, SX Turbo, and SX Limited trim levels.

"The all-new Optima retains the signature personality of its predecessor, but we've literally improved everything," said Sprague in conjunction with the Optima's debut at the 2015 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS).

Exterior Features

Built with a stiffer and more robust vehicle architecture, the new 2016 Optima is longer, wider, taller, and more aerodynamic than the model it replaces, according to Kia. Key Optima design traits are retained in what the automaker characterizes as an "athletic, functional, sporty" design.

Three new paint colors debut for 2016, and aluminum wheels are standard for all trim levels. The LX and LX Turbo have 16-in. wheels, the EX comes with 17-in. wheels, and the SX Turbo and SX Limited are equipped with 18-in. wheels.

Interior Features

The 2016 Kia Optima's greater dimensions translate to additional interior space, with Kia reporting improvements in terms of headroom, shoulder room, rear-seat legroom, and cargo capacity. The stronger structure contributes to reductio2016 Kia Optimans in noise, vibration, and harshness levels, too, and Kia has upgraded the Optima's cabin with additional use of soft-touch materials, metallic accent trim, and real stitching on the dashboard and door panels.

Redesigned seats also debut in the new Optima, featuring what Kia says is deeper bolstering and improved comfort and support. Depending on the trim level, upholstery choices include cloth, leather, or premium diamond-quilted Nappa leather. New interior colors include Merlot and Dark Aubergine.

The front seats face a dashboard that includes a standard 8-in. touch-screen display for the Your Voice (UVO) eServices infotainment system. Kia has worked to reduce the number of buttons and knobs on the control panel, and arrays them in more horizontal fashion. A wider center console divides the 2016 Optima's front seats.

Optional Features

Among the options for the Optima that Kia confirmed in New York, a new 14-speaker premium surround-sound audio system will be available. The car will also offer power-adjustable front seats and will include a new height adjuster for the front passenger's seat. Heated and ventilated front seats will also be available, along with a panoramic glass sunroof, LED taillights, and automatic high-beam and adaptive headlights that help the driver to see around dark corners.

Under the Hood

Three different engines are offered for the new Optima, two of which are carried over from last year but with revised tuning designed to deliver greater torque at lower rpm, Kia says. All 2016 Optimas are front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is not available for this car.

The Optima LX and EX get a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, estimated to make 185 horsepower and 178 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode is standard equipment.

The Optima SX Turbo and SX Limited have a turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, estimated to make 247 horsepower. Torque measures 260 lb.-ft. and it is available starting at a low 1,350 rpm. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard, adding paddle shifters to the steering wheel.

The Optima LX Turbo employs a new turbocharged, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine making 178 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, the latter beginning at 1,500 rp2016 Kia Optimam. A 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) is standard, an automated manual gearbox designed to maximize fuel economy.

With the 2016 Optima, Kia also strives to refine and enhance the car's ride and handling characteristics. The automaker says it has improved steering response, high-speed stability, and handling, and claims that the Optima delivers a smoother ride quality than the outgoing model.


According to Kia, the 2016 Optima's more robust structure also contributes to improved crashworthiness when compared to the model it replaces.

The UVO eServices system includes 911 Connect, a service that automatically dials out to emergency responders following a collision and an air bag deployment in order to speed rescuers to the scene of the accident. New features for UVO eServices include Speed Alert, Curfew Alert, Geo-Fencing, and Driving Score, each helpful to concerned parents when a teenaged driver is using the car.

A reversing camera, blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert, and an Advanced Smart Cruise Control system with forward-collision warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking are available as options.


Every 2016 Optima will include Kia's UVO eServices technology, accessed using an 8-in. touch-screen display on the dashboard. The system will make the new Optima the first Kia to offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay technology.

Using Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Optima owners can connect a smartphone to the system using one of the Optima's fast-charge USB ports, transforming the UVO eServices screen into a facsimile of their device complete with the ability to control key features and mobile applications installed on the phone through the touch screen, the car's steering wheel controls, or the Optima's voice-command system.

The new Optima also offers a 360-degree around-view monitoring system, and the optional Infinity premium surround-sound system employs Clari-Fi music restoration and QuantumLogic soundstage signal distribution technologies to deliver "a high-fidelity listening experience."
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