As we were completing our week-long test drive of the all-new (and we would add – impressive) 2016 Kia Optima SX 2.0L Turbo mid-size sedan, Kia announced that the 2016 Optima has earned the highest designation possible – Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) – from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) when it is equipped with optional front crash prevention.
An overall Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) rating reflects top scores in each of five crashworthiness tests as well as the integration of active safety technology to aid in crash prevention.
To qualify for TSP+, the IIHS testing parameters require each vehicle to earn “good” ratings in five crashworthiness tests – small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side impact, roof strength and head restraints – as well as an “advanced” or “superior” rating for front crash prevention. The requirement for optional front crash prevention being available plus getting a satisfactory rating in its performance testing to earn the top rating is new for 2016.
As part of an intensive ‘from the ground up” design update for 2016, optional front crash prevention was made available on the SX trim-level Optima and standard on the top trim SXL. Our test Optima was the SX 2.0T and included the optional Autonomous Emergency Braking System (AEB) and was equipped with a Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS) that qualified the Optima for the top rating – if it also received an “advanced” or “superior” rating in the front-crash prevention testing.
For 2016, the all-new Optima earned a “good” crashworthiness rating (which is the top score) in all of the standard category testing and – importantly – a superior (or top) rating for the new optional front-crash prevention system which earned it the top “Plus” designation.
“The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety sets some of the highest standards of crashworthiness, and the Top Safety Pick Plus designation is a significant achievement for the Kia brand and for our best-selling vehicle,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, KMA. “We are pleased that the all-new Optima received strong ratings across the range of rigorous tests set forth by IIHS. This rating validates the efforts of our engineers and the priority we place on safety for our consumers.”
Along with significant improvements in the reengineered body that include a much stiffer chassis using new Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) combined with greater use of stronger structural adhesives, the new Optima is longer and wider with improvements in steering, braking and handling to make it a roomier, better – and safer – driving sedan.
For both driving convenience and safety, the all-new 2016 Optima has a long list of technologies standard or available across the model line. Standard on every Optima is a rear-camera display with SX and SXL trims offering an available 360-degree Surround-View Monitor which we found exceptional and easy to use in close quarter maneuvering.
Available driver-aid technology, including Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC), Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Rear Parking Assist System (RPAS) are optional on all trim levels. The Front Collision Warning System (FCWS), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) are optional on the SX and standard on the SXL. The all-important Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) – which, under appropriate conditions, will bring the vehicle to a complete stop to potentially avoid a collision or reduce damage – is also optional on the SX and standard on the SXL.
The new 2016 Optima comes in five trim levels – LX, LX 1.6T, EX, SX and SXL – with three engine choices including a new 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that’s mated to a seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). The 2.4L and 2.0L turbo are mated to a 6-speed automatic.
Pricing for the 2016 Optima begins at MSRP $21,990 for the 2.4L equipped LX through the 1.6L Turbo equipped LX at MSRP $23,990 to the top of the line SX 2.0L Turbo at MSRP of $29,790 and SXL 2.0L Turbo at MSRP $35,890.
2016 Optima SX 2.0T Turbo
Our test Optima was in a Remington Red – with Black interior – SX model equipped with the 2.0L turbocharged GDI 4-cylinder engine producing 245 horsepower with 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2.0T engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Fuel economy is rated at 22/32 mpg city/highway with a combined 26 mpg. Equipped with an 18.5-gallon fuel tank, the Optima has a range of near 500 miles.
A Drive Mode Select system gives the driver the ability to adjust the drive experience to fit their preferences. NORMAL provides balanced performance dynamics. Active ECO helps maximize fuel economy with engine, transmission, and even AC management. SPORT enhances engine and transmission settings and stiffens the steering feel for a more sport performance driving experience.
The Optima SX comes with 18-inch alloy machine-finished wheels mounted with P235/45R18 Michelin all-season tires. Red front and rear brake calipers give it a sports sedan look. A specific sport tuned suspension with High Performance Damper shock absorbers coupled with an independent front and rear suspension with stabilizer bars, enhances the sporty drive characteristics of the SX and the SXL.
Other standard features of our SX include: Power-Folding Heated Mirrors with LED Turn Signals, Hill-start Assist Control, Traction Control, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Sport LED Rear Tail Lights, Dual Exhaust with Chrome Tips, Dual Zone Automatic Climate Control with Rear Vents, 12-way Power Driver Seat, Leather Trimmed Seating, Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel with Audio and Bluetooth controls, Push Button Start with Smart Key door and trunk entry, Front Console with USB/auxiliary input jack and 12 Volt outlet, Rear Side-door Sunshades and Rear-seat Center Console with USB Rapid Chargers and 12 Volt outlet.
The Optima SX also comes with signature Kia UVO connectivity including AM/FM/MP3 Audio unit, Sirius Satellite Radio, Bluetooth Wireless Technology, and Navigation System with Sirius Traffic using an 8-inch Center Stack Monitor and Rear View Camera Display along with a 4.3-inch TFT LCD Driver Information Display in the center of the instrument cluster. We noted that UVO will feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone app access later in the year.
Well-equipped already, our Optima SX MSRP was $29,690.
SX Premium Technology Package
Moving our SX from just ‘well-equipped’ to what we would call premium very well equipped, our Optima SX was fitted out with the Premium Technology Package ($4,800) which loaded up our test vehicle with the following convenience and comfort features:
• Bi-Xenon HID Headlights with Auto-Leveling Dynamic Bending Light (illuminates corners when turning) and High Beam Assist
• Panoramic Sunroof
• Harmon/Kardon Quantum Logic Premium Sound system with 630W power, 10-speakers, 7.1 channel surround playback and Clari-Fi
• Overhead LED front and rear reading lamps
• Ventilated front seats
• Second-row heated seating
• 10-way power front passenger seat
• Electronic Parking Brake
Features included in the package that enhanced the safety (and earning it an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus) of the Optimum SX were:
• Premium Electronic Stability Control
• Rear Parking Assist
• 360-degree Surround-View System
• Rear Cross Traffic Alert
• Blind Spot Detection
• Lane Departure Waring (LDWS)
• Advanced Smart Cruise Control
• Forward Collision Warning System (FWCS)
• Autonomous Emergency Braking System (AEB)
With destination charges of $825, our 2016 Kia Optima SX 2.0T (we would call it a premium) mid-size sedan priced at $35,315.