2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo
2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo. Click image to enlarge
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Manufacturer’s Website
Kia Canada

Review and photos by Gerry Frechette

Photo Gallery:
2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo

Kia is making big waves in the auto business, having had another stellar year in 2012, after completely redesigning its lineup in the past few years. Its vehicles have gone from being non-descript to some of the most distinctive on the road. The Optima mid-sized sedan, introduced a couple of years ago, is aging well and remains one of the more appealing such cars on the road.

At the outset, it must be said that the platform and technology of the Optima mirrors that of its cousin, the Hyundai Sonata, and that is no bad thing, because it means that the Optima can be had in the same three versions – regular, turbo and hybrid. Beyond that, this car goes its own way as far as exterior and interior design, with Kia pursuing a more youthful and aggressive image.

Exterior and interior design has been totally revamped on Kias, and the Optima is one of the sleekest mid-size sedans on the road, with muscular proportions and a classy look. The model we drove was the EX Turbo, the EX being the mid-range model overall, and the entry level for the turbocharged direct-injection 2.0L four-cylinder engine, which pumps out 274 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque at as low as 1,750 rpm. In pre-metric terms, this is a 122 cubic-inch engine! Not so long ago, it would take twice the cylinders and three times the displacement to achieve those numbers. It is no wonder that a V6 is not available, a product planning decision that many of the companies in this segment have taken, because the added weight and expense are no longer necessary.

2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo
2013 Kia Optima EX Turbo. Click image to enlarge

The power is directed to the front wheels through a six-speed “Steptronic” (manual-shift capable with paddles) automatic transmission, and there, the sportiness pretty much ends other than slightly larger brakes in front (12.6 versus 11.8 inches), as Kia has chosen to equip this “basic” Turbo the way the regular non-turbo EX is, with 17-inch wheels, regular ride–biased suspension (McPherson struts up front, multi-link design at the rear), and a slightly disconnected feel in some circumstances from the electric motor–driven steering. To get the sport suspension and 18-inch wheels with bigger tires, one must step up (to the tune of almost $5,000) to the top-of-the-line SX model. The EX isn’t an especially engaging driving experience for the enthusiast, beyond the very capable engine and drivetrain, but it certainly provides a refined and unruffled ride in normal use. The winter tires on our tester weren’t the grippiest for dry-pavement handling, but in the wet – which was the most “winter” we encountered – the Optima seemed happy to have them and handled well.

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