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2012 Kia Optima

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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
9.1
Out of 10

Based on 358 Ratings for the 2011 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.2/10
    Quality
    9.2/10
  • Reliability
    9.5/10
    Performance
    9.0/10
  • Comfort
    9.1/10
    Styling
    9.4/10

2nd favorite car I have owned.

By on Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 88,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Love the looks and drive"

Cons: "Road noise and the head rests"

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

"I have had so many compliments on my car. It is a great car just has to much road noise and the front seat head rests are uncomfortable."

I Love my Kia Optima

By on Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000

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

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

"This is my second Kia Optima and I love this car. The car runs great and is fast. My son always says 'mom your car is fast' I love to hear that. :) And I am not even going that fast, it just feels like it (this car is like my family sports car). Plus, it has a lot of room and all the features are great. I especially like the back camera and hands free phone use. My kids love the cup holders in the back. I also love the phone holder by the dash area. Not to mention, the trunk is big enough fit lots of groceries and some."

Sharp KIA, chrome wheels, options, gr8 mileage

By on Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,000

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
9/10

Pros: "Fantastic mileage, fun to drive, sporty/ luxury"

Cons: "None"

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

"Very sharp, Nappa leather seat trim, beautiful KIA Optima SXL, 19K miles, adult driven,automatic panoramic sunroof w/power shade, heated/cooled bucket seats, power everything 18" Chrome Alloy Wheels, keyless entry, push button start and remote start, backup camera. Memory seat settings, back seat access to trunk. Black with sharp black interior. Infinity Audio System 8 speakers. Heated outside mirrors, Blind spot detection System. Must see this beauty."

FAVORITE VEHICLE I'VE OWNED

By on Friday, May 20, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "GREAT ACCELERATION, SPORTY HANDLING, A FUN RIDE!"

Cons: "ROAD NOISE COULD BE LESS"

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

"I BOUGHT THIS KIA SX USED, (1 YEAR OLD, 10K MI) & HAVE BEEN VERY HAPPY WITH THIS CAR OVERALL. AMAZING POWER FOR A 4-CYL, ALTHOUGH MPG IS LESS THAN CLAIMED, BUT I RARELY USE THE OPTIONAL "ECO" SETTING. MANY OPTIONS COME STANDARD WITH THIS MODEL, INTERIOR IS ROOMY & TRUNK CAPACITY SEEMS HUGE! IF I COULD THINK OF A COMPLAINT (WHICH I REALLY DON'T HAVE ANY) WOULD PROBABLY BE THE ROAD NOISE COMING UP FROM UNDER THE CAR-IT COULD BE LESS, BUT IT'S NOT SEVERE. FWD MAKES IT A SPORTY HANDLER & FUN TO DRIVE. NO PROBLEMS WITH THE CAR, JUST ROUTINE SERVICE DURING THE 2 YEARS I'VE OWNED IT."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Great car for the price

By on Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,000

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
7/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "over all great car for its value"

Cons: "ROADNOISE"

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

"This car is great if u want to compare head to head with other cars in its class. Now i do note that quality is a bit unrefined or under par when compared to other cars in class that I have owned ( 2010 TSX, audi a4 2007, cadillac ats 2013). My biggest dislike has to be road noise worst of all the cars i have driven. ROAD NOISE is bad maybe its the panaramic sunroof, if so got live with it just because i love the glass roof, but yes very loud. Coming up on first oil change tomorrow after owing for 9 months 3800 miles. Must say really happy with car over all. Gas milage is ok power is nice but unrefined it like a burst not smooth acceleration like cadillac. RWD vs FWD may have to be taken into account. Love my lights rear and head lights. Heated and cooled front seats Great. Great rear leg room! Also panoramic sunroof cause some chassis noise especially when turnng, feel chassis could be stiffer but have read similer concerns other cars with panoramic glass options .Brake could be better but aren't horrible."

2 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Best car I have owned

By on Monday, April 18, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 101,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "econimc, luxury comparable car"

Cons: "steering wheel"

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

"We thought we would trade our vehicle in for a good model year end deal. The car was much more than we thought it would be. Its roomy and comfortable on the inside. Wish we had opted for power seat and a sun roof. One complaint may seem odd--the steering wheel didnt seem very ergonomic. It was awkward holding hands at certain angles for extended time."

6 people out of 10 found this review helpful

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