Driven: 2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo

2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo
2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo

The turbocharged version of Kia’s Optima isn’t for everyone, but those with certain needs will appreciate what this car offers.

Say you’re a driving enthusiast, but on a budget, and with a family, and with a horrible daily commute.

The 2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo might just be the car you need, and want.

It’s the typical midsize family sedan with all the expected amenities — Bluetooth, leather, heated front seats, tilt and telescoping steering column, heated steering wheel, satellite radio, navigation, even UPB chargers in the rear center console, plus the usual array of safety technology.

Turbocharged Optima can show its heels to traffic
Turbocharged Optima can show its heels to traffic

But under the hood there’s a 2.0-liter directly injected and turbocharged engine that provides access to 245 horsepower and to 260 pound-feet of torque, and you can take advantage of that power by manually engaging the six-speed gearbox via its console-mounted lever or paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Your feet ride on metal pedals and the car rides on 18-inch wheels, Michelin tires and sport-tuned suspension. Our test model even had red-painted brake calipers on all four corners (front discs are 12.6 inches and ventilated, rears are 11.2 and solid).

In other words, you can enjoy the drive when the opportunity presents, and for a base price of less than (though not much less than) $30,000.

Or, as with the 2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo I’ve been driving this week, you can opt for the SXT Premium Technology package and for an additional $4,800 you get high-intensity discharge headlamps with high-beam assist, a panoramic sunroof, Harman Kardon QLX premium surround sound, power-adjusted (including lumbar) front passenger’s seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated exterior rear seats (outboard positions only), blind-spot mirrors (which fold away when you park), rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking assist, lane-departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, advanced smart-cruise control, surround view monitor and LED overhead lighting.IMG_7792

Note to driving enthusiasts: That sunroof adds 100 pounds of weight way above the car’s center of gravity.

You also get a car rated at 25 mpg and assembled in the USA (West Point, Georgia) with 57 percent of its parts also domestically produced.

I averaged around 31 mpg for my week in the 2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo, and while most of my driving was routine, it was fun to explore the boost the turbo provided to the 2.0-liter powerplant’s powerband, especially when shifting for myself.

When compared with all those vanilla family sedans on the road, a car that a driver can enjoy is a very good thing. Or as my granddaughter might phrase it, in a world of vanilla ice cream cones, the Optima Turbo is chocolate with sprinkles.

2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo

IMG_7789Vehicle type: 5-passenger sedan, front-wheel drive
Base price: $29,690 Price as tested: $35,315
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, 245 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm, 260 pound-feet of torque @ 4,000 rpm Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 110.4 inches Overall length/width: 191.1 inches / 73.2 inches
Curb weight: 3,494 pounds (without sunroof)
EPA mileage estimates: 22 city / 32 highway / 25 combined
Assembled in: West Point, Georgia

Share your comments