2011 Kia Optima EX Review: It Hits The Hot Spot Page 2

March 1, 2011

The twin glass panel panoramic sunroof promises you the sun, moon and stars.  Kia's overhead rocker switch controls all motorized roof/shade functions.  It doesn't let one easily open the shade, say, in one touch.  Push the rocker rearward and both front and rear shades retract.  Then, the front glass panel rises and slides back.  If you'd rather have the shades open but roof closed, you've got to bump that switch forward interrupting the can-opener drill.

One vexing luminary:  the shift console's overhead flood lamp.  Its white LED protrudes too far (bezel needed).  It creates flares in one's glasses.  Kia gets kudos for dashboard and shift console gear indicators.  The latter highlights gear picked--a practical pointer that endangered these days.

Center Control Center

Center Control Center

Enlarge Photo

Rear outboard seating is pocket like; the middle position lacks headroom, no center headrest either.  Obviously, that spot's intended for kids or their booster seats.

Kia's suspension tuning: firm.  It performs whoop-de-do dips traversing expressway expansion joints adjoining overpasses.  That's sporting rather than punishing.  The 17-inch Nexen tires, in contrast, claw for traction.  And the stability control nanny intercedes often.

Steering effort increases slightly, as you up your pace.  It's nicely weighted and responds quickly enough.  An excursion over rumble strips proved uneventful; one doesn't feel the grooved road surface due to weak feedback.

Goodies:  keyless entry, push-button start and key fob proximity sensing courtesy lighting.

While the Optima's fit and finish look good from the driver's seat, an eagle-eyed observer will notice a few untidy edges, wrinkled surfaces and paint blemishes on my early production car.

Overall, Kia's Optima offers the red-carpet treatment (hood plays a self-supporting role), at an attractive price:  $23,200 for starters, $27,440 as tested.

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