First Look at 2016 Kia Optima: Undivided Love

2016 Kia Optima
We had a lot of stop and go on in the 2016 Kia Ootima; we had to stop for scenery like this. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Putting the Kia Optima to the ultimate test, over the Continental Divide.

The 2016 Kia Optima proves that you don’t have to choose between style and price, comfort and performance. The subtly redesigned car has a slightly bolder look, a new, more efficient engine and forward looking seats – all while keeping within a moderate price range.

My Driving Buddy, Holly Reich. Credit: Judy Antell For Agirlsguidetocars

My driving buddy and fellow writer, Holly Reich. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

In fact, in a bold move, Kia opted to hold the line on its base model, not raising the price at all over the 2015 model, yet loading the midsize sedan with more safety and design features.

I took the 2016 Optima on a challenging test drive, from Aspen to Vail over Independence Pass. This mountainous drive included hairpin turns, curving— and breathtaking scenery. The Optima was more than up to the task, Even At 75 miles per hours, the speed limit on some of the straighter roads, the ride was still smooth and quiet.

Choice engines

2016 Kia Optima

We made it – altitude sickness be damned! Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

The Optima comes standard with a  four cylinder, 2.4 liter engine; there are also two turbo charged options. The cars get as much as 35 miles per gallon on the highway. The cars have lots of pep; we found it easy to merge on the highway.

High end options

2016 Kia Optima

Easy to use buttons on the center console. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

If you want to splurge, Kia has you covered, too. The top of the line SXL, model has quilted leather seats that are both heated or cooled, a heated leather steering wheel, real stitching, and more advanced safety features like an active cruise control and headlights that turn as you turn on curving country roads.

The high end audio maker, Harmon, is now in partnership with Kia, so the premium audio system has 10 speakers and amazing quality sound. the QuantumLogic Premium Surround Sound Audio System8 also includes a digital amplifier.

Advances in safety, whatever your road conditions

A stiffer body and  increased use of Advanced High Strength Steel provides better crash protection while offering a quieter ride. The Optima is also more responsive, so it was easier to steer on all the curves; we had to approach one hairpin turn at only 10 miles per hour.

The 2016 Kia Optima has optional new safety features like cross traffic alert, blind spot monitor, brake assist and forward collision warning. Every Optima also includes the UVO eServices system, which includes 911 Connect. This automatically calls 911 if the car is in a collision and the air bags inflate.

2016 Kia Optima

The 8 inch color touchscreen. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Even more technology

The UVO eServices and audio systems integrate with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And if you loan the car to your teen driver, you can keep tabs on his driving remotely. Buttons ad controls are easy to use.

More room up top

2016 Kia Optima

The 2016 Kia Optima is sporty looking from any angle. Credit: Judy Antell for AGirlsGuidetoCars

The new Optima is slightly wider and higher, so it feels roomier. And the panoramic sunroof certainly helped us feel open and airy.

Note: the Optima doesn’t come with all wheel drive, so you might not want to try mountain driving with it in the winter

I was Kia’s guest on a drive from Aspen over the Continental Divide; Kia paid my travel expenses but I was not otherwise compensated. Opinions expressed are my own.

Judy Antell, who is's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell