2013 Kia Optima SX Road Test Review
by Courtney Caldwell
I’ve never fancied myself much of a sedan girl. More like a speedy sports car siren or a mother trucker… the latter of which was my first priority for many years when rearing rugrats and camping out by babbling brooks in the back woods of New England. But this week, priorities changed when the new 2013 Kia Optima SX sedan was delivered as our test car. What a looker!
“Is that the new Jaguar,” one man shouted from across the parking lot. “No, it’s the new 2013 Kia Optima,” I yelled back. “Wow, woulda' never guessed,” he said shaking his head with surprise.
And that’s the reaction the Snow White Pearl Optima received all week long. Driving this car was like having a new puppy. Everyone wanted to stop and pet it, stoop down and take a closer look, inspiring miles of smiles and constant curiosity. I found one woman peering into the windows with her hands cupped around her eyes to get a better look inside. Approaching the car, I asked, “What do you think of it?” Startled and somewhat embarrassed she was caught, she replied, “Oh, so sorry, I wasn’t being nosy but this car is just so gorgeous. I had to get a closer look. I can’t believe this is a Kia!”
The beautiful black and white Nappa leather trim interior was surprisingly stunning upon opening the door. Not only elegant and upscale in appearance but also spurring sensations of a sexy sports car. Our SX test model came with the premium touring package, which included 18” luxury design alloy wheels with red brake calipers presenting a lower, wider stance in appearance, appealing to those who need practical but love performance. The SX delivers both. The chrome accent rear spoiler completed the overall exterior look and style of the Optima placing this unique sedan in a class above its 2012 predecessor. The new 2013 SX dispels any myths about a sedan being for old folk… this ain’t your grandma’s car!
In fact, this is one impressive car, completely changed my perspective on what a sedan can inspire in a driver, and inspire it did. Driving the Optima inspired feelings… I felt very proud to be seen in it especially as one neck after another craned from curbside to catch a look as it passed by.
Everyone within earshot had something to say. Pulling into a crowded parking lot in downtown LA, a valet attendant walked up to my window to inform me they were full. He then smiled with a smitten look as his eyes glanced over the Optima from bonnet to bumper. “Wow, this is such a nice car,” he said. “Is this the new BMW?” Before I could answer, he then walked to the front of the car, caressing the hood, noting how it looked so BMWish in style.
Knowing I had him at ‘wow’ I informed him that it was new 2013 Kia Optima SX. With a surprising look on his face, he said, “Kia? Man, have they come a long way! This is so nice.” The full parking lot no longer mattered. He told me to leave it. He’d find a space for it. Walking away, I looked back over my shoulder (with a tad fear that he liked it so much he might take it for a joy ride) but instead found him fondling the roof as if he were gently stroking a woman’s back, and then with a big smile he entered the luxurious interior. I heard a rev and with that knew he was a happy man in fantasy land. Returning two hours later, I found the Optima parked in the first spot next to his booth. The SX seemed to unleash the autophile in him!
Once getting past the Optima’s stunning exterior and bold interior, and over the shock that this is not a BMW or Jaguar, there is a boatload of creature features such as heated outside mirrors that also display turn signals, remote keyless entry and push button start with Smart Key (excellent safety features for a quick entrance and fast exit). The power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support and its position memory are particularly handy if more than one person drives this car. Evening entry is enhanced with LED running lights highlighting the way into the cockpit with the name KIA subtly aglow in red on the carriage edge.
Not only does the Optima SX look sleek inside and out its 6-speed Sportmatic Transmission guides and glides vehicle direction with super smooth ease on all roads leading anywhere. Exit ramps were a welcomed sight just to cop a feel on how well the bootie hugging bucket seat prevented body roll when cornering, which means drivers won’t end up in the passenger seat in a tight turn.
The Optima’s 2.0L turbo gas direct injection 4-cylinder engine offers more than enough power for escaping tailgaters, road-ragers or highway hogs. In fact, the power is so efficient it’s enough to fool yourself into thinking you’re in a roadster at red lights. Beware the delusion. However, if you find the need for speed pumping up your adrenaline you’ll find comfort in the Optima’s anti-lock brake and traction control systems when control of your senses returns for a reality check.
As one might expect for a car of this caliber, the Optima is loaded with a gaggle of gadgets from a Sirius satellite radio to a steering wheel with paddle shifters to supreme safety features including electronic stability control and vehicle safety management. And, so much more.
Fuel economy might be a bit of an oxymoron for the 2013 Optima, especially with recent gas spikes in California, with an average of only 26MPG but the pride in owning and driving this sedan is priceless, well worth the cost and the exhilarating emotional delight it delivers.
Speaking of cost, if the 2013 Kia Optima SX with all its goodies sounds like a rev-raising rock car boasting a $60K price tag, you’d be wrong. Here’s some sticker shock in a good way. The 2013 Kia Optima SX MSRP, including the premium package options, AND freight and handling, is a mere $35,275, before the haggling begins.
Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. If Kia can penetrate a market of practical purchasers with power and performance for half the price, then maybe it’s time for luxe lovers to take a second look at this under the radar rising star.
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