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2012 Kia Optima

Overview
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2012 Kia Optima Review

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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 247 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

Absolutely LOVE this car

By on Sunday, August 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,400

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
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Comfort, gas milage, reliablility, cheap"

Cons: "brake pedal cover fell off, laggy in hybrid mode"

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

"I have owned FOUR new vehicles- 2 brand new dodge pick ups, brand new Chrysler 300 and I traded in my Nissan 350z convertible for this KIA. I fell in love with the style, love the heated AND cooled seats. LOVE the comfort, LOVE the spacious trunk. LOVE the sexy sporty look. LOVE the radio, LOVE the handling. Other than the hybrid lagging a bit and the brake pedal cover coming off, it's amazing. Oil changes are CHEAP, maintenance is EASY and vehicle is holding up REALLY well. LOVE IT and have had it for 9 months. The variations of interior styles and options is amazing."

Nicest car I've ever owned

By on Thursday, August 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000

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
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Fun to drive. Great gas mileage in summer."

Cons: "front end is low and scrapes on parking curbs"

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

"The car runs like a dream and this summer I am getting over 40 miles to the gallon with the hybrid. The only problem with the hybrid is it sometimes goes into hybrid mode when you are waiting to turn left and then if you need to make a quick turn it is not always ready to go. Interior is wonderful, the cooled seats are really great on long trips and I am enjoying the panoramic sunroof. My wife loves it too. Biggest problem I have is after she drives it the automatic seat squeezes me up under the steering wheel because I forget to put it on my setting. The GPS is great for me as I travel throughout Michigan for work and could also use it out of state."

10 people out of 16 found this review helpful

Great, but sluggish at times

By on Saturday, August 09, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "great mileage, safety, and warranty"

Cons: "sluggish shifting, small trunk"

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

"This Optima is stylish, comfortable, quiet, a smooth ride, and gets great mileage. My only complaints are that the trunk is rather small because of the hybrid batteries, and the hybrid can be somewhat sluggish on steep hills and shifting. There can be a hesitation on shifting when switching from electric to gas or vice versa while at the same time time as it is shifting. I can deal with these hybrid quirks because of the overall gas mileage, quality and value of the car. Plus the warranty is unbeatable."

8 people out of 15 found this review helpful

I owe soo much more then this car is now worth. 1

By on Friday, August 08, 2014

I don't own this car

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "buy used."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I have had this car for 1 year and I overpaid. it is worth $10,000 less than I bought it for 1 year ago. Love the car and love driving it!!! but the loss of value is not what I expected. Love the air cooled seats and cold AC. The best!"

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

great bang for the buck. great styling and power.

By on Friday, August 08, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "styling, amenities, power, bang for the buck"

Cons: "possible turbo problems down the road"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I would give this car a 10 except for the first two years of ownership, I had two re-occuring issues. The first was an annoying squeak in the roof panel which took several dealer repairs over 18 months to fix. The second was a turbo lag, which also took several dealer repairs before having the fuel injectors cleaned which did the trick."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

I love my car even with its small flaws

By on Saturday, August 02, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,200

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Price, roomy, layout, warranty, and options"

Cons: "Interior color choices, 2014 wheels, steering"

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

"This is the second optima for my family and I love this car more every day. The new refresh make the car have a more aggressive look to it and I like it a lot. I went with the dark grey and have gotten nothing but complements everywhere I go. It has plenty of room and a very well though out interior design that is amazingly convenient for the driver. My one issue with the interior was that unless I felt like spending 30k I was stuck with grey seats rather than black. As far as the driving aspect I went from a v6 to my optima and while the 4 cylinder gets about the same mpg I'm ok because I have about the same get up and go as before. I do find though that the steering feels a bit off and hard to manage over 55 - 60 mph. It's a constant back and forth with correcting the wheel to stay in the lane at high speeds. Quality is great even though I did have a small problem with one of my trim pieces coming off."

6 people out of 8 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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