When the current Kia Optima launched in 2010, its attractive styling and good driving performance made it an instant success. In just three years, Optima has become Kia's sales leader with more than
150,000 units sold last year.
For the 2014 model year Optima has freshened styling and a revised equipment list. The body shell remains unchanged, but up front, the conventional running lights and fog lamps have been replaced
with new LED units, while new LED taillamps and a more aggressive diffuser add more interest to the rear of the car.
Built on a unibody structure, the front-wheel drive Optima uses independent front and rear suspension systems. MacPherson struts are used up front with a multilink layout in the rear. Both use coil
springs and front anti-roll bars for responsive handling and comfort.
Available in LX, EX, SX and SX-Limited trims, the Optima's new premium amenities and convenience options make Optima an impressive player. The LX trim offers dual exhaust with chrome tips, solar
glass, exterior mirror turn signal indicators, front fog lights, exterior heated mirrors, chrome accented exterior door handles and new 16-inch alloy wheels fitted with 205/65R16 tires and a
six-speed automatic transmission.
The volume-leading EX trim offers larger 17-inch alloy wheels fitted with 215/55R17 tires, leather seats, 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, and illuminated front cup holders. Moving to the SX
trim, you'll find stylish new 18-inch polished alloy wheels with 225/45R18 tires, unique front and rear lower bumpers and side sills and aero wiper blades.
The SX-T includes HID headlights with auto leveling. The top-of-the-line Limited trim takes Optima to another level of sporty refinement, adding unique 18-inch chrome wheels, new LED fog lights, red
brake calipers, an electronic parking brake, chrome accented side sills, and premium Nappa leather seats.
Inside, all trim levels benefit from new and more supportive seats, covered in cloth in the LX and leather in the EX and SX and SX-Limited variants.
The dash features push-button start, a new 4.3-inch LCD instrument cluster and an optional 8-inch multimedia screen featuring Kia's UVO eServices, an eight-speaker Infinity sound system, HD Radio,
SiriusXM Satellite Radio and SiriusXM Traffic. An optional blind spot warning system includes rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors.
UVO eServices is a new telematics suite that's enabled by a smartphone app. It provides in-vehicle connectivity including navigation, diagnostics capabilities and added convenience features. UVO is
short for "Your Voice". Using voice recognition technology, UVO allows you to control music and mobile phone operations while keeping their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes on the
Powertrain availability carries over from last year's models with a choice of two 4-cylinder, direct injection powerplants. The 2.4-liter engine produces 200 horsepower and posts 24/34 mpg. Upgrading
to the 2.0-liter turbo engine delivers V6-type power with a four-cylinder engine that produces 274 horsepower and 22/34 mpg.
A 6-speed automatic is the Mint Alloys
only transmission available with either engine. The Optima SX has a drive-mode selector, which modifies the
transmission's shift points and allows the driver to select steering power-assist levels.
Pricing will be announced closer to the 2014 Optima's launch in the third quarter of 2013. We're told to expect minimal, if any, changes except for the new SX Limited.
It should fit in somewhere above the 2013 Optima SX with the Limited package ($34,500).
However, with the recent introduction of the all-new $35,100 Cadenza, Kia seems to have two competitors for top-of-the-line status. You can only wonder how Cadenza will affect sales of the Optima SX
and SX Limited.