Car Review: The Kia Optima opts for few changes in 2013

Not much has changed for the 2013 Kia Optima, making the 2012 model more of a bargain. Photo: Kia Optima Photo: Russell Dandridge

DALLAS, November 20, 2012 — As I drove the 2012 Kia Optima, I realized that in comparison to next year’s model not much has changed other than the addition of a Limited Trim and getting rid of the EX Turbo trim. So for those looking for a car about to be one year old, the 2012 version is definitely a look-see and a good bargain to get from dealers who are now moving the 2013s in.

A pick high on the list of possibilities for buyers looking for that midsize sedan, the competition here sits with the Hyundai Sonata and the Ford Fusion, but have no fear since the Optima is stylish yet still a sensible family sedan option.

Another point is just how good the Kia Optima looks with its sleek, classy interior and perfect lines on the outside, screaming sophistication as in — can you say — the Kia is all grown up now.

Standout Hybrid Model

Take note of the Hybrid model of the Kia Optima, a standout if you’re looking to be “kind” to the environment. Otherwise, the sedan comes in four trim levels: LX, EX, SX and SX Limited. There is only a single trim for the Optima Hybrid.

The LX standards are the 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and a six-speaker sound system with all the accouterments.

The LX Convenience package gives you eight-way power driver seat, driver lumbar adjustment, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

On the EX trim you get the Convenience package additions like 17-inch wheels, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air vents, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, higher-end dash trim, and floor mats.

The SX is the turbocharged engine along with 18-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension, auto-leveling xenon headlights, steering-wheel-mounted transmission paddle shifters, noticeable gauges, and upholstery.

Technology and Premium Sound System Pluses

On any of the trim options there is also the chance to add the Technology package with a navigation system, touchscreen interface and rearview camera, and on the LX version you also get dual-zone climate control.

For sound junkies, the Infinity sound system comes as part of the EX Premium or SX Premium Touring package as well as adding on a panoramic sunroof, power-folding mirrors, rearview camera, driver memory functions, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and the Uvo voice-activated phone and media player interface.

If opting for the SX Limited, all the additions are standard minus Uvo, and there are also the 18-inch chrome wheels, red-painted brake calipers, additional chrome trim, LED running lamps, and primo leather upholstery.

For the Optima Hybrid, this trim has the same goodies as the EX with 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless ignition/entry and a rearview camera. On the Hybrid Convenience package, you get eight-way power driver seat and Uvo, and the Hybrid Premium Technology package adds the EX trim availabilities.

Looking Under the Hood

Under the hood, the 2013 Kia Optima is front-wheel drive while the LX and EX has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 200 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. On the LX you get a six-speed manual transmission, but the automatic is optional. With the EX, the automatic is the norm.

The SX trims have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 274 horsepower and 269 pound feet of torque and a six-speed automatic transmission.

If you opt for the Optima Hybrid, it is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor and a six-speed automatic transmission. With power peaked out, you get 206 horsepower and 195 pound feet of torque.

Safety standards are four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, side and side curtain airbags, and hill start assist.

The interior on the 2013 Kia Optima gets a “thumbs up” with a sort of European feel, adding that certain plushness not found on other sedans in this class.

The cabin is also large enough with legroom front and back and seats that are comfy – even for long rides. The trunk space is 15.4 cubic feet – about average in this class.

A comfortable ride and with the SX it is sporty with a hug-the-road vibe. Take note that the Optima Hybrid could use some tweaks, but it’s still an easy sale when it comes to smooth riding and easy acceleration on the highway with an eco-friendly twist.

Should You Need to Know: A savvy way to save the environment, the 2012 or 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid is attractive, having the power needed that many hybrids can’t maintain.

Miles Per Gallon:  On the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid that I drove, the gas mileage numbers came in at 35 miles per gallon in the city and 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

Cost: The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid has a price tag of $32,500.

Rita Cook is a writer/editor with has over 1000 articles to her credit in the past 13-plus years. She is a frequent auto and travel contributor on a radio show in Los Angeles called Insider Mag Radio at KPRO 1570 am on from midnight to 12:30 a.m. Monday mornings. 

She also contributes travel and auto to the Anthony Duva show, which can be heard live from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST every Sunday at

Cook is a member of the Texas Auto Writer’s Association, writes for the Dallas Morning News Green Living Section as well as artist profiles and www.greensourceDFW and spends much of her time on the road traveling or working on books.

She recently received the 2012 Green Media Award from the North Texas Corporate Recycling Association.

Her latest book releases are both “Haunted Dallas” and “Haunted Fort Worth” from Her third book in the Haunted Series was released in October “Haunted Bartlesville, Oklahoma.”  Follow Cook at Twitter at @ritacook13.  


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Rita Cook

Rita Cook is a writer/editor with over 1000 articles to her credit in the past 10-plus years. She is the co-host of a radio show in Los Angeles; Insider Mag Radio at KPRO 1570 am and is on from midnight to 12:30 a.m. Monday mornings.  Cook is a member of the Texas Auto Writer’s Association and also writes an eco-friendly column for the Dallas Morning News.


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