2013 Kia Optima Sedan - FROM $21,200
The 2013 Kia Optima is one of our top picks for a midsize sedan. With evocative styling, strong engine choices and a long list of features, it's easy to see why.
What's New for 2013
The top-of-the-line Limited trim level debuts for 2013. The EX Turbo trim has been discontinued.
Family sedans should not look this good. This would be the conventional wisdom, anyway. But the 2013 Kia Optima does not follow conventional wisdom. Its styling and interior design are not only sleek, sophisticated and timelessly handsome for a family sedan, but also impressive for any car, period. Driving an Optima down a crowded street draws double-takes from bystanders and then inevitable squinting as they attempt to identify the badge on its tail. A look of confusion usually follows as the answer turns out to be "Kia."
Behind the pretty face is a well-rounded midsize sedan with a long list of positive attributes. It starts under the hood with a choice of four-cylinder engines (one is turbocharged) that produce exceptional power and fuel efficiency. There's even a Hybrid model.
As with any Kia model, the Optima sedan seems to give you as many features for your money as possible. Even the base LX model, for instance, comes standard with items such as alloy wheels, cruise control, Bluetooth and an iPod/USB audio interface. The Optima can also be had with sophisticated features like ventilated front seats and a panoramic sunroof -- items unavailable on most competitors. A long warranty is another dollars-and-sense attribute.
Of course, the Optima isn't perfect. Headroom might be an issue for some passengers, and the cabin in general is less spacious than the Honda Accord and Volkswagen Passat. Also be mindful that your mileage is likely to vary from Kia's lofty EPA estimates. Overall, though, the 2013 Kia Optima is a great family sedan choice that boasts equal parts style and sensibility. The mechanically related 2013 Hyundai Sonata pulls off a similar trick, and we suspect the eye-catching new 2013 Ford Fusion is likely to as well. However, if you're looking to go beyond conventional wisdom -- as well as the conventional family sedan -- the 2013 Kia Optima is a great place to start.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Kia Optima midsize sedan is available in four trim levels: LX, EX, SX and SX Limited. There is a single trim for the Optima Hybrid.
The LX comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. The LX Convenience package adds an eight-way power driver seat, driver lumbar adjustment and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The EX includes the Convenience package items and adds 17-inch wheels, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air vents, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, upgraded dash trim and floor mats.
The SX adds a turbocharged engine, 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, unique exterior and interior styling elements, auto-leveling xenon headlights, steering-wheel-mounted transmission paddle shifters, upgraded gauges and cloth/leather upholstery.
Every trim is eligible for the Technology package, which adds a navigation system, a touchscreen interface, a rearview camera, real-time traffic and HD radio. The LX version also gets dual-zone climate control and an eight-speaker Infinity sound system. You can get the Infinity system as part of either the EX Premium or SX Premium Touring package, which also include a panoramic sunroof, power-folding mirrors, the rearview camera and HD radio, a four-way power passenger seat, driver memory functions, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and the Uvo voice-activated phone and media player interface (deleted with navigation system).
All of the above comes standard on the SX Limited with the exception of Uvo, which is not available. Additional standard items include 18-inch chrome wheels, red-painted brake calipers, additional chrome trim, LED running lamps, an electronic parking brake, a first aid kit and upgraded leather upholstery.
The Optima Hybrid is equipped similarly to the EX, but it lacks the Convenience package items and includes unique 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry, a rearview camera and cloth upholstery. The Hybrid Convenience package adds the eight-way power driver seat and Uvo. The Hybrid Premium Technology package essentially adds all of the options available on the EX.
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2013 Kia Optima is front-wheel drive. The LX and EX come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. In California-emissions states, this engine has a Super Ultra Low Emissions rating (versus Ultra-Low elsewhere), and it has a lower power output of 192 hp and 181 lb-ft. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the LX, with a six-speed automatic being optional. The automatic comes standard on the EX.
In Edmunds performance testing, a loaded Optima EX in SULEV form went from zero to 60 mph in 8.9 seconds, which is average for the class. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined regardless of transmission.
The SX trims are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. In Edmunds testing, the SX went from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, which is an average time for a family sedan of similar power. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 22/34/26, which is theoretically superb, but we struggled to meet those numbers in the course of a year-long test of the Optima SX.
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's fuel economy at 34/39/36