Comfort and Quality » 8
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QUALITY | 8 out of 10
leather felt high quality, but Kia could stand to crank up the padding
The center stack is discreetly angled towards the driver, delivering a cozy feel without hindering passenger access.
.Material choices are unlikely to have the Germans seeking therapy, but they're wholly class-appropriate.
Sitting upright, my head mashed into the ceiling
The 2012 Kia Optima isn't much different than most other mid-sizers in its seating layout, but its somewhat larger dimensions really help backseat space.
In back, there's enough width in back for three across, provided your passengers aren't too tall or wide, and there's plenty of legroom as well as just enough headroom for taller adults (although getting in might require ducking you head around the doorline's curvature). Front seats are a bit disappointing; the lower cushions are especially flat and hard, lacking proper padding and more importantly contouring. The upscale EX, comes with a power driver's seat for greater adjustability, but even then the passenger-side seat doesn't adjust for height or tilt.
On the bright side, heated and cooled front seats—as well as heated back seats—are available on EX and SX models, and we've appreciated this feature in the hot sun.
Altogether, while the Optima's underpinnings are quite ordinary (other than the powertrain lineup), it's all been tuned in a way that makes the Optima feel refined and comfortable-riding, with a ride that's firm but just comfortable enough for most surfaces. All the more impressive is that the Optima's cabin stays quiet inside.
We like the look and feel of most of the cabin materials as well. Audio and climate controls are clearly distinguished with their own knobs and buttons, and even though the instrument panel is canted slightly toward the driver, it's all in easy reach of the passenger, too. Materials tend to be a little drab, but the matte-black surfaces feel sporty, and the soft-touch leather-like material covering the dash adds an element of sophistication.
The 2012 Kia Optima is quiet, composed, and big on comfort—except its front seats could be better.