New for 2017

The Optima was completely redesigned for 2016, so there are no major changes for 2017. A redesigned Optima Hybrid and all-new Optima Plug-In Hybrid models do join the lineup for the new model year, though.

The Optimal Midsize Sedan

The Kia Optima has evolved from an "also ran in the midsize sedan class" to a frontrunner. The 2017 Optima continues that momentum with a stylish exterior, sensibly designed interior, and an array of powerful yet efficient engine options. As is always the case with Kia, great value and an impressive warranty are also part of the package.

Performance

Kia was one of the first automakers to ditch larger-displacement V6 engines for an all-four-cylinder lineup in its midsize sedan, a trend that’s been embraced by the majority of carmakers in this segment. Downsizing helps improve fuel efficiency, but thanks to features like direct injection and (optional) turbocharging, the Optima’s four-cylinder engines don’t sacrifice performance.

The base engine is a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter that produces 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, with the front-wheel drive configuration of all Optima models. When equipped with this engine, the Optima returns an EPA-rated 28 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 34 mpg highway).*

Kia also offers a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a seven-speed automatic. This engine produces 178 hp and 195 lb-ft and is rated at 31 mpg combined (28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway).* The most powerful Optima engine is the 2.0-liter turbo, which makes 245 hp and 260 lb-ft and comes with a six-speed automatic. Models with this engine are rated at 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway).*

For 2017, Kia also redesigned the Optima Hybrid, giving it the current-generation Optima body, and added an Optima Plug-In Hybrid model. The hybrid is rated at 42 mpg combined (39 mpg city, 46 mpg highway)*, while the plug-in hybrid is rated at 103 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) with 29 miles of electric-only range.

Features

The 2017 Kia Optima is a four-door, five-seat midsize sedan. It’s available in five trim levels, priced starting from $22,200.**

Reflecting Kia’s well-known emphasis on value, the base Optima LX comes with a generous array of standard equipment. Highlights include power-adjustable outside mirrors with LED turn-signal indicators, 16-inch alloy wheels, 5.0-inch touchscreen display, six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth®, multifunction steering wheel, and a 60/40 split-folding rear bench seat.

The LX 1.6T adds the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine, heated power-folding exterior mirrors, sound-absorbing front-door windows, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, among other features.

The EX continues to build on the two LX models, adding standard features like LED daytime running lights and rear combination lights, 17-inch wheels, UVO infotainment system with 7.0-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ integration, dual center console with USB ports and 12-volt outlet, leather seats, power driver’s seat with memory, heated seats and steering wheel, and woodgrain interior accents.

In addition to the applicable standard features from the other models, the Optima SX adds a rear spoiler, LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, red brake calipers, upgraded infotainment system with 8.0-inch touchscreen and navigation, sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The SX Limited adds ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, power passenger seat, Nappa leather upholstery, LED interior lighting, electronic parking brake, wireless smartphone charging, and a harman/kardon® QuantumLogic™ premium surround sound system with 10 speakers.

Design

Having long shed its reputation for building basic economy cars, Kia is now a style leader. The previous-generation Optima shocked the automotive establishment with its sophisticated design, and the current version builds on that design.

Considering what a success the previous version was, perhaps it’s not surprising that the 2017 Optima looks almost identical to its predecessor. The front end features the same Kia-signature grille and headlight design, although the whole area is a bit more streamlined than before. The steeply raked pillars give the roofline a sleeker appearance, while the raised rear deck give the appearance that the car is leaning forward.

The updated styling conceals some changes in proportions. As part of its recent redesign, the Optima’s wheelbase was extended by 0.4 inches to 110.4 inches, and the car was widened by 1.2 inches to 73.2 inches. Kia says this helps create a roomier cabin with more headroom, shoulder room, and rear-seat legroom. Trunk space was also increased to 15.9 cubic feet, a 0.5 cubic foot increase over the old Optima.

The interior features a clean design, with an uncluttered horizontal dashboard and nicely integrated touchscreen. Kia says its designers added more soft-touch materials to the current-generation Optima to give the cabin a more upscale feel. The seat frames are also stiffer, which reduces vibration.

Safety

Standard safety equipment on the 2017 Kia Optima includes anti-lock brakes, stability and traction controls, a rearview camera, and a full array of airbags. Optional features include high beam assist, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and Surround View Monitor camera system.

Verdict

The 2017 Kia Optima proves that value and style don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

For more information or to schedule a test drive of the 2017 Kia Optima, contact us online or visit Kia of South Austin at 5306 IH 35 South, Austin, TX 78745.

*Based on EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary with options, driving conditions, driving habits and your vehicle’s condition. These estimates reflect EPA’s revised coefficients beginning with some 2017 models.

**Starting price is manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for lowest model trim.

Image: Kia