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2012 Kia Optima

Overview
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2012 Kia Optima Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 7.9

The 2012 Kia Optima sedan proves no matter what your past reputation in the market, if you build a superior product filled with features consumers want and wrap it in skin so sexy it smokes every other family sedan on the market, people will buy your car. Once a hardly noticed 4-door sedan, the 2012 Kia Optima now has customers lining up to get behind the wheel. Beyond its sinister good looks and impressive price point, the 2012 Kia Optima family sedan delivers good figures in the area of resale, fuel economy and safety. Covering all the bases, Kia builds a wide range of Optimas including a base model, a luxury model, a high-performance turbo model and even a hybrid. With the 2012 Kia Optima sedan, Kia has left no stone unturned and no competitor a safe place to hide.

You'll Like This Car If...

Beyond its stunning good looks, the 2012 Kia Optima sedan offers features and equipment unavailable even on some premium luxury cars, all at a price that undercuts the competition by a wide margin. Backing up the 2012 Kia Optima is a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Although the 2012 Kia Optima sedan holds better 5-year residual values than any Optima before it, those numbers still are not as strong as the values held by the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and even the Optima's sister car, the Hyundai Sonata.

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Kia Optima sedan receives a number of improvements and feature upgrades. Foglights and heated side mirrors are added to the standard-equipment list, while the LX trim receives automatic headlights. The Premium package, available on the EX, EX Turbo and SX, gains an 8-speaker Infinity audio system, Kia's UVO voice-activated infotainment system, and power-folding mirrors. HD Radio and power-folding mirrors are added to the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid's Premium and Technology package.

Driving the Optima

Driving Impressions After driving the 2012 Kia Optima sedan we came away rather impressed by both the car's driving dynamics and its 2.4-liter 4-cyinder engine. Confident cornering aided by a nicely weighted...

steering wheel gave us the permission to push the Optima hard, and the electronic traction and stability controls always intervened to save us when we pushed a bit too hard. The naturally aspirated 2.4-liter engine develops an impressive 200 horsepower. This gasoline direct-injection engine is smooth, powerful and able to cruise 35 highway miles on a single gallon of gasoline (24 miles in city driving). Whether it was passing slow-moving traffic or climbing steep grades, the 2012 Kia Optima's 4-cylinder engine never failed to impress us. Of course, there is a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine for those who crave more power. Equally as smooth and quiet as the 2.4-liter engine, the 2.0T pumps out 274 horsepower and is mated to a 6-speed Sportmatic manually shifting automatic transmission. Fuel-economy fans will likely flock to the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid sedan that earns an estimated 35 mpg city and 40 mpg highway.

Exterior Styling
The 2012 Kia Optima sedan is one of the sportiest, most stylish midsize sedans out there. We'd even put it up against the styling of some $40,000 European luxury brands.

Turbocharged 2.0-liter engine
Who needs a V6 anyway? This 4-cylinder engine has 274 horsepower and an EPA highway estimate of 34 mpg.

2012 Kia Optima Details
Interior

With a clear nod to Saab dash design, the Kia engineers have created an instrument panel that is quite frankly a refreshing change from the ubiquitous hooded gauge cluster and center-stacked audio- and ventilation-control layout. On upper-end EX and SX trims, customers can opt for such extravagant features as a dual-panel moonroof, heated and cooling front seats, heated rear seats and a voice-activated navigation and infotainment system similar to Ford's SYNC. While we love the look of the 2012 Kia Optima sedan's interior, some of the plastic on the dash and steering wheel still lack the quality look and feel found in Honda, Mazda and even some GM and Ford products. The front seats are pretty comfortable for tall folks, but the Optima's sharply raked rear roofline may cause some headroom issues for the rear-seat passengers.

Exterior

Looking a bit like something from the sci-fi movie Tron, the 2012 Kia Optima is a bold and original piece of work from the ground up. From its cross-hatch front grille and long sweptback headlight housing, to the weather-vane-style wheels on the SX trim, the Optima looks like it's going fast even when it's parked. There is a duality about the 2012 Kia Optima sedan, speaking to both luxury and performance all while masking its true nature to serve duty as a humble family sedan. Even base trims offer such nice features as heated side mirrors, chrome door handle inserts and 16-inch wheels.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Every 2012 Kia Optima sedan offers Bluetooth phone connectivity, iPod/USB audio connectivity, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a cooling glove box that keeps drinks chilled. As for safety, the 2012 Kia Optima sedan comes with an impressive array of features including six airbags and electronic stability control. Like other base-priced models in its class, the entry-level Optima includes 16-inch steel wheels and a 6-speed manual transmission.

Optional Equipment

Optional equipment highlights include a panoramic sunroof, heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, Infinity sound system, touch-screen navigation system, UVO infotainment voice-active system and rearview camera. In addition to a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, the top-of-the-line 2012 Kia Optima SX offers a lightly sport-tuned suspension and more aggressive styling cues. The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid features lightweight wheels in your choice of standard 16-inch or sporty 17-inch casting, as well as the EcoMinder LCD panel with graphics and lighting that change to show when the car is achieving maximum fuel economy.

Under the Hood

The 2012 Kia Optima sedan doesn't offer the option of a V6, and why should it. The standard 2.4-liter 4-cylinder is nearly as powerful as some V6 engines and gets far better fuel economy. The Optima's 2.4-liter engine boasts more power and better fuel economy than other 4-cylinder cars in the category, too. Those wanting more power can opt for a turbocharged 2.0 liter (EX Turbo and SX trims only). Both engines are offered with a 6-speed automatic, while the base trim (LX) offers a 6-speed manual. The Optima Hybrid uses the 2.4-liter engine mated to a 40-horsepower electric motor for a combined output of 206 horsepower.

2.4-liter in-line 4
200 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
186 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/35

2.0-liter in-line 4 Turbocharged
274 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
269 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/34

2.4-liter in-line 4 Hybrid
166 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
40 horsepower @ 1,400-6,000 rpm (electric motor)
154 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
152 lb-ft of torque @ 0-1,400 rpm (electric motor)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 35/40

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2012 Kia Optima Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.2
Out of 10

Based on 288 Ratings for the 2011 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.3/10
    Quality
    9.2/10
  • Reliability
    9.5/10
    Performance
    9.0/10
  • Comfort
    9.2/10
    Styling
    9.5/10

Great Car

By on Monday, March 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Excellent value"

Cons: "None that I can think of."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I have had my car for 3 years. Not one problem in all that time. Great looks, comfortable ride, excellent mileage. What more can you ask for."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

I'll Buy Another

By on Monday, March 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Engine - Transmission - Fuel Mileage"

Cons: "Road noise - Passenger seat is low"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Drive train is this car's strongest suit. Engine/Transmission are flawless with great fuel mileage. Ride is comfortable but does have some road noise and the original tires were replaced at 12,000 miles. overall this was a great choice and we're all quite happy!"

Excellent value for performance

By on Monday, March 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 63,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I really like this vehicle. I was a bit skeptical when I first considered purchasing a Kia based upon their poor quality reputation in the early rollout days of production. This vehicle handles great in most road conditions. Very good on snow and wet surfaces and minimal hydroplaning. Gas consumption is 34 mpg highway. only real complaint is it is somewhat difficult getting out of and the seats become somewhat uncomfortable on long drives."

Really great car with all the features I wanted

By on Saturday, February 28, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "great looking car, very comfortable, lots of pep,"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"The only complaint about this car is the nav system screen. It is entirely too bright even when dimmed, & quite disturbing at night, & it has to warm up in the morning before the buttons work. It would be a perfect car if the screen dimmed a lot more. But I love, love, love the heated steering wheel."

swing and a miss

By on Saturday, February 28, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 53,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
6/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "sleek looking, peppy, loaded"

Cons: "poor quality, LOUD, touch screen unresponsive"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"My Optima is loaded. Its sleek looking at has everything you could ask for. The problem is, they put in everything you'd expect in a luxury vehicle without the steep price. The quality just isn't there. The navigation screen is terrible. It is sluggish and hard to get to respond to touch. It takes way too much effort to get the keys to respond correctly when typing in a destination that I barely use it and opt to use my phone's navigation instead. My least favorite quality about the car is how loud it is while driving. Not necessarily the engine or tires but the amount of road noise is deafening. You absolutely cannot use handsfree calling because neither you nor that other caller can hear each other over the wind and road noise. I've had several recalls and maintenance issues as well, including a blown gas pump. Its a sleek looking car but overall I'd much rather drive something else. I'd buy a different car today if this one hadn't depreciated so quickly and left me upside down.."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

great car for the price

By on Thursday, February 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"this is my 3 rd kia and i love it !! gas milage in about 35 mpg highway and i drive about 80 percent highway driving my only gripe is that the seats are too low and rather flat my wife hit a deer on the interstate with this car doing 65 mph and it held up beautifully having heavy front end damage which our auto insurance covered the optima is rock solid on the highway bluetooth and xm radio are an upgrade for us also the power seat is very useful to us"

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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