Test Drive: 2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo car test drives reviews kia
2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo. Click image to enlarge

The Steptronic automatic features a manual-shift gate to the left of the regular gate, with upshifts accomplished by moving the lever forward, and downshifts, obviously, rearward. One might argue that the opposite configuration should be the case, but that would be a subjective judgement. In any case, the best way to shift manually is to keep one’s hands on the wheel and use the steering wheel–mounted paddles, the right one for upshifts, the left one for downshifts. Shifts are crisp and positive in nature. One thing to note, all the transmission’s sportiness is in its manual-shift capability; there is no sport mode in full leave-it-alone automatic usage.

There is, however, an  “Active ECO System” that optimizes engine and transmission management to reduce fuel consumption at the push of a button on the steering wheel. Engaging it, you’ll find the transmission gets to a higher gear quicker and stays there longer, essentially.

Test Drive: 2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo car test drives reviews kia Test Drive: 2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo car test drives reviews kia Test Drive: 2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo car test drives reviews kia
2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo. Click image to enlarge

To look at the Optima EX Turbo, you will really think you are in a car that sells for more than its asking price of $29,095, such is its premium Euro-like design and presence on the road. It is hard to believe how far Kia has come with its mid-size sedan in only one generation – it’s a great leap that lets it hold its head high next to any other mid-size sedan. Most of said sedans are all new in the past couple of years, and yet the Optima doesn’t look at all dated or passé.

Test Drive: 2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo car test drives reviews kia
Test Drive: 2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo car test drives reviews kia
2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo. Click image to enlarge

The place you will obviously spend the most time in the Optima is… well, inside, and there, the impressions are also good. The interior is roomy and comfortable, and the seats reasonably supportive, both front and rear. The appearance is a bit drab and monochromatic (read: black), so some contrasting tones would be nice, but the dashboard design is sweeping and highly visibile. Ingress and egress are as expected – no problem in front, and “duck your head” in the back. Once in there, though, the sloping roofline does not exact too large a price in headroom, and a taller person can “sit behind himself.” A central armrest with two cupholders folds down, and it is big enough to have storage, but it doesn’t. The trunk is capacious enough, but as we’ve come to expect these days, its opening is not especially large, and the large curved hinges will swing into the available space, diminishing the actual cargo capacity in those immediate areas.

Given its pricing, one must be impressed by the level of standard equipment on the Optima EX Turbo. It includes heated leather power front seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, tilt and telescopic steering, Bluetooth connectivity, rearview camera, and the useful UVO Infotainment system (developed in conjunction with Microsoft) that allows drivers to quickly access music files, change radio stations, and make phone calls, all through voice‐activated controls using Microsoft speech recognition technology. It also offers a hard drive for storage and all the physical device connectivity you could want. It must be said that the UVO’s screen is a bit smaller than what most might be accustomed to, and manoeuvring through the radio options was bit frustrating, in that only three pre-sets are shown at a time without calling up more in another menu.

Connect with Autos.ca