NEW FOR 2016:

– All-new model

It’s fairly common for all-new models to feature a radically different look and feel from their predecessor. Think the difference between the outgoing Sorento and the new Sorento, or the old Magentis and the Optima. This isn’t the case with the new second-generation Optima. Upon first glimpse, it looks more like a facelift than a redesign, even if every aspect of the car has been reworked for 2016.

Under the surface, Kia has stretched the Optima’s wheelbase, width, and length to give it a more spacious cabin and a bigger trunk. Crucially, the frame has been beefed up – it’s some 150 percent more rigid to ward off creaks and rattles. Tweaks to the suspension’s design focus on improving handling, which was already one of the better drives in the segment.

Inside, Kia has revised the dashboard styling to be more in line with premium models like the Sorento and K900, and has given the quality of materials a boost. The SXL trim channels its inner Bentley, offering such luxuries as quilted Nappa leather upholstery, a suedecloth headliner, and real stitching on the dashboard. Radar cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, wireless phone charging, and an available 360-degree parking camera are also on offer.

Kia offers the Optima with three powertrains. LX and EX models feature a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine that makes 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque, a slight dip from last year. A new fuel-saving trim, LX Eco Turbo, offers up a smaller 1.6-litre turbocharged direct-injected four-cylinder with 178 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The 2.0-litre Turbo returns for the top-of-the-line SX, but sees a power cut to 245 hp and 260 lb-ft, down from 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. The 2.4 and 2.0T use a six-speed automatic transmission, while the 1.6 uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

An Optima Hybrid is available, but is a carry-over model. It is covered in a separate report.

The Optima is offered in LX, EX, and SX trims.

LX includes 16-inch alloy wheels, tire mobility kit, wiper de-icer, solar tinted glass, power heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, chrome window trim, split chrome door handles, splash guards, stainless steel exhaust pipe (single), cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat with two-way power lumbar support, 60/40 split folding rear seat, soft-touch door panel inserts, dark metal effect interior trim, air conditioning with cabin filter, automatic headlights, illuminated vanity mirrors, AM/FM/CD player with satellite radio, USB and aux-in port, Bluetooth, tilt and telescoping steering column, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, cruise control, selectable drive modes (Eco/Normal/Sport), and alarm.

LX+ package adds 17-inch alloy wheels, anti-pinch front power windows, power folding mirrors, welcome lighting system, reverse camera, heated front seats, driver memory, 12-way power driver’s seat, heated steering wheel, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, proximity key with push-button start, and hands-free power trunk.

LX Eco Turbo package adds 1.6L Turbo engine, unique 16-inch wheels with grey finish, dual projection headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED tail lights, rain sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear climate ventilation, 4.3-inch instrument cluster LCD display, and rear USB and 12-volt charging port.

EX builds on LX+ and adds dual projection headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED tail lights, rain-sensing wipers, acoustic side windows, panoramic sunroof, gloss black door pillars, blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, heated rear seats, wood interior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear climate ventilation, LED ambient interior lighting, glove box illumination, 4.2-inch instrument cluster LCD display, rear USB and 12-volt charging port, and integrated rear-door sunshades.

EX Tech package adds compact spare tire, ventilated front seats, 10-way power passenger seat, 8.0-inch display audio system with navigation, and 10-speaker 630-watt Harman Kardon sound system.

SX builds on the EX Tech and adds 2.0T engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, larger front brakes with red calipers, sport-tuned suspension, rack-mounted electric power steering, HID xenon headlamps, sport LED tail lights with black accents, Turbo fender graphic, dual stainless steel exhaust tips, sport front and rear bumpers, rear lip spoiler, satin chrome front air ducts with rear diffuser accent, sport leather upholstery with red stitching, aluminum and piano black finish interior trim, stainless steel sill plates, sport steering wheel, sport alloy pedals, tire pressure monitoring system, wireless phone charger, steering wheel mounted paddles for manual shifting, and an electronic parking brake.

SXL package adds 360-degree parking camera, emergency autonomous braking, automatic high beams, lane departure warning system, quilted Nappa leather upholstery, dark silver stitched interior trim, premium black headliner.

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