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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 348 Ratings for the 2011 - 2016 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

Great value for the money

By on Wednesday, February 03, 2016

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

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "great price, fun to drive"

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

"Great value for the money... if you're looking for a great 2nd car this is the one. All of the hypre about steering is a misnomer because tire size and driving mode are adjustable. That solves the problem."

This hybrid has served me well and saved me money!

By on Saturday, January 23, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,220

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
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Less gas stops! Can't live without backup camera!"

Cons: "Smaller trunk"

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

"There are so many onboard computer features I can't even list them all here... Navigation, hands-free calling, car system monitoring (I like the view that shows the power pathways and when they're activated!) Most controls are on the steering wheel. There are some spots where bird... stuff has dulled the paint but they are repairable. The interior is in fantastic shape and has been well-treated. Both front seats are electric and are heated/ventilated; the rear seats are ventilated only. The trunk is smaller than usual since the hybrid batteries are stored there, but it isn't too inconvenient. The premium wheels are HOT and have locking lugs! Everyone loves them! And not a scratch on any one of them. Also has a panoramic sunroof which has helped me a lot this winter by allowing solar heat in... No cold car to get into. Keyless entry and pushbutton start. All around reliable car that is very comfortable for long trips."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

wow this car is fantastic

By on Tuesday, January 05, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000

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: "fast, fun, sexy, great system and driving dynamics"

Cons: "resale value i guess."

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

just washed

"ok, let me preface this by saying that I never imagined that I would I own a KIA. I was sort of forced into it at the time, but am I ever glad that I was. This car is phenomenal. It's very fast (276hp), amazing on gas (35mpg hwy), has a killer sound system, and the interior feels much more expensive than its class. It's very easy to drive, and it feels surprisingly solid even at higher speeds. The panoramic roof and heated/cooled seats are just a cherry on top of this killer car. I've owned it for close to 2 years now and I've never had a single issue it yet. The only complaint that I have at all, is that I wish the rear seats had more pass-through room when laid flat or if they made it in a hatchback. The only other issue is that on drives longer than an hour, your butt will certainly feel the firmness of the sports seats. However, my wife's VW is no different in that regard. I highly recommend this car to anyone and I do often. I let my neighbor and his wife borrow it and they bought one of their own the following weekend."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

just washed

excellent Optima EX

By on Sunday, January 03, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "great car!!"

Cons: "none"

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

"The 4 years I have owned this car has given excellent service, milage always 28 city 33 to 35 highway the longer trips was always better. My only drawback is the tires they put on them from factory have alot to be desired. I got 30k out of them and still had 4/10 on them. I changed oil every 3500 miles factory says 7thousand dont believe in that. All in all this car is very reliable and comfortable to drive."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Kia will not back it's Warranty

By on Monday, December 28, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
Not Rated
Styling
5/10
Comfort
2/10

Pros: "Nothing"

Cons: "Bad Warranty Practices"

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

"I bought the car used from a dealer in 2014. The Optima had 13k miles on it. With in the first year it started to sputter. I took it into the Kia dealer and they stated that Kia Corporate could not validate all oi1 changes and voided my warranty. The engine needs to be replaced and they are doing nothing about it. The car has less than 35k miles on it."

5 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Simply a great car!

By on Thursday, December 10, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,000

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
9/10
Comfort
9/10

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

"I have previously owned several Kia Sorentos and now an Optima. I have been very impressed with the quality and reliability of each and would highly recommend potential buyers looking for a sedan to consider one of the Optima models. Good looks, good quality and outstanding reliability."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

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