2012 Kia Optima review, specifications, photos, features

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The new 2012 Kia Optima mid-size sedan

In its first year on the market, the 2011 Kia Optima earned consumer and critical acclaim while sales increased nearly 150 percent and demand outpaced supply.

2012 Kia Optima photo2012 Kia Optima photo

The extraordinary growth is complemented by a slew of awards and accolades, such as being named "Most Gorgeous Car Under $20k" by Esquire, a 2011 "Editors' Most Wanted" vehicle by Edmunds' Inside Line, 2011 "Best New Model" by Kiplinger's Personal Finance, and inclusion on the "Ward's 10 Best Interiors" list. In addition to being recognized in the press, Optima also has received prestigious safety accolades being named a 2011 "Top Safety Pick" by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) and receiving an overall five-star crash safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

2012 Kia Optima photo2012 Kia Optima photo

Available in three trims – LX, EX, and SX – the Optima builds on an already solid platform for 2012 and adds numerous packaging and technology enhancements and new consumer-friendly amenities to provide a more upscale feel. On the outside, the 2012 Optima receives standard chrome accented exterior door handles, fog lights, heated outside mirrors, and new automatic light control on LX models while LED tail lights are now standard on EX models.

2012 Kia Optima photo2012 Kia Optima photo

Moving inside, the 2012 Optima raises the technology bar by adding a standard eight-speaker Infinity®1 audio system, HD Radio, Kia's new UVO powered by Microsoft®2 voice-activated infotainment system, and power folding outside mirrors to the Premium Package on EX, EX Turbo and SX models. To further enhance Optima's interior refinement, a revised center fascia finish was added to all models while standard wood trim and metal bezel finishes make their way to EX models. For added convenience, Optima models equipped with a 2.4-liter gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine will feature a Tire Mobility Kit.

2012 Kia Optima photo2012 Kia Optima photo

Sleek and Modern Exterior
Originally conceived at Kia's Irvine-based design center, the Optima projects a refined, performance-oriented aesthetic with a sleek silhouette, aggressive stance, and sculpted elements that evoke passion and communicate Kia Motors' philosophy of creating stylish and dynamic vehicles. In keeping with Kia's design motif, the Optima's aggressive face proudly features the brand's signature tabbed grille complemented by projector headlamps to round out the visual appeal and Optima's coupe-like profile is accentuated by a sweeping chrome arc that flows seamlessly from the A through the C pillars – a distinctive design element that visually lowers the car while enhancing its proportions. Optima's roofline connects with its pronounced shoulder line that leads to its sculpted flanks and extended wheelbase. Boldly flared wheel arches and a raked cabin create a sedan with a graceful muscular stance.

Every 2012 Optima comes well equipped with a generous roster of standard features, with the LX trim offering dual exhaust with chrome tips, solar glass, outside mirror turn signal indicators, front fog lights, outside heated mirrors, and new chrome accented outside door handles and 16-inch steel wheels fitted with 205/65R16 tires. LX models equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission add 16-inch alloy wheels. The volume-leading EX trim offers larger 17-inch alloy wheels fitted with 215/55R17 tires while the EX Turbo features a black gloss and chrome front grille and LED tail lights. Moving to the top-of-the-line SX trim, consumers will find unique 18-inch polished alloy wheels with 225/45R18 tires, unique front and rear lower bumpers and side sills, a rear lip spoiler, aero wiper blades, and HID head lights with auto leveling.

2012 Kia Optima photo2012 Kia Optima photo

Functional, Engaging Interior Space
With sleek modern lines and a host of thoughtful features, the interior of the Optima exudes performance and was designed with drivers in mind. From the instrument panel that's contoured toward the driver to create a cockpit-like feel to the precise gauges and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, Optima's interior provides the experience of a performance vehicle without sacrificing comfort or roominess. A sport-inspired short shifter delivers crisp shifts while an available panoramic sunroof provides an open-air feeling.

In addition to its sporty personality, the Optima comes loaded with standard convenience features and functionality that consumers have come to expect from a midsize sedan. Occupants are greeted by a number of premium standard features such as a six-way adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support, tilt and telescopic steering column, glove box cooling capabilities and auto light control. Additional standard interior features include power door locks, power windows and sun visor extension. Stylishly appointed cloth seats provide comfortable seating while a 60/40 split-folding rear seat offers multiple seating and cargo arrangements based on driver and passenger needs.

2012 Kia Optima photo2012 Kia Optima photo

Cabin comfort is further complemented by an impressive list of standard technology features including AM/FM/CD/MP3/Satellite audio system with SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio capabilities and three months complimentary service3, Bluetooth®4 wireless connectivity, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. Optima LX models with automatic transmission also feature cruise control and an Active Eco System that allows drivers to optimize fuel efficiency while driving.

Adding to the refinement of the EX trim, 2012 models add standard wood trim to door inserts and the center console as well as metal bezel trim. Additional standard premium features on every EX model include UVO powered by Microsoft® voice-activated infotainment system, push button-start ignition with Smart Key, dual-zone automatic air conditioning with rear vents, leather seat trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, auto-dimming rear view mirror with Homelink®5 and compass, driver and front passenger automatic window up/down and an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, door mood lamp and overhead pin lamp, chrome inside door handles, illuminated glove box, rear reading lamps, and floor mats. EX Turbo models replace the Tire Mobility Kit with a compact spare tire.

2012 Kia Optima photo2012 Kia Optima photo

For consumers looking for more athletic appeal, the turbocharged Optima SX adds unique black leather and woven seat trim, black interior trim with carbon fiber door and center console inserts, Supervision™ meter cluster with LCD display, soft trim with French seams, steering wheel paddle shifters, metal pedals and illuminated door scuff plates.

Several available packages add higher levels of refinement and the latest technology to 2012 Optima models. The Convenience Package (LX A/T only) offers an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat and auto-dimming rear view mirror with Homelink, while the LX Technology Package (requires Convenience Package) adds the navigation system with back-up camera6, an eight-speaker Infinity®7 audio system and dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear ventilation.

Building on the already well-equipped EX trim, consumers can opt for the Premium Package to add several new-for-2012 features, including UVO voice-activated infotainment system, HD Radio, eight-speaker Infinity audio system and power folding outside mirrors. The EX Premium Package also offers a panoramic sunroof with high-gloss black B-pillar, four-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, driver's seat memory, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, wood interior trim and center console and metal-finished shifter. The EX Technology Package (requires Premium Package) adds a navigation system with back-up camera8.

2012 Kia Optima photo2012 Kia Optima photo

Three packages are offered for the 2012 Optima SX, beginning with the Premium Package that features the same equipment as the EX Premium Packages. The SX Premium Touring Package adds unique 18-inch luxury wheels to the Premium Package's content while the Technology Package (requires Premium or Premium Touring Package) features a navigation system with back-up camera and SiriusXM Traffic™9 with real-time updates.

Dynamic Platform
The Optima's distinctive style and sporting demeanor is evident from its sheet metal down to its platform. Optima's low, aerodynamic and powerful stance is assisted through its overall length of 190.7 inches – an increase of 1.7 inches over the previous generation model – overall width of 72.1 inches, wheelbase of 110 inches and low ground clearance of 5.3 inches. Optima's lightweight design uses high-tensile-strength steel to enhance structural strength while also achieving high torsional stiffness, benefiting handling, ride quality and refinement. Additional measures to help improve noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) reduction qualities also are fitted throughout the Optima.

Built on a unibody frame, the front-wheel-drive Optima utilizes independent front and rear suspension systems. MacPherson struts are used in the front with a multi-link layout in the rear and are both joined with coil springs and front anti-roll bars to engage drivers with responsive handling and provide the utmost comfort whether the road is smooth or less than ideal.

2012 Kia Optima photo2012 Kia Optima photo

Unique Collection of Efficient and Powerful Powertrains
The 2012 Optima is available in two fuel-efficient and powerful Theta II powerplants featuring gasoline direct injection (GDI), including a 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder or a 2.0-liter GDI turbo engine. A 2.4-liter hybrid engine also is available. The 2.4-liter GDI engine produces 200 horsepower while upgrading to the available 2.0-liter turbo GDI engine (EX Turbo and SX models) delivers V6-type power with a four-cylinder engine that produces 274 horsepower, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. All automatics feature Sportmatic™ clutchless shifting. A single six-speed manual transmission is available only on the LX model.

In addition to impressive performance, both engines also offer competitive fuel economy. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder posts 24/35 miles per gallon (mpg)10 (city/highway) when mated to the manual transmission and 24/34 mpg when coupled with the automatic transmission, while the 2.0-liter turbo GDI offers 22/34 mpg11 and is available only with the automatic transmission.

Standard Kia Safety Features
The 2012 Optima is equipped with a high level of standard safety features. All trims come outfitted with driver and passenger advanced front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, first and second row side curtain airbags, front active headrests, side-impact door beams, height-adjustable front seatbelts with pre-tensioners, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). A four-wheel Antilock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), a Traction Control System (TCS), a Brake Assist System (BAS) and Hill Assist Control (HAC) also are standard.

Industry-Leading Warranty
The 2012 Optima is covered by Kia's comprehensive warranty program12, which offers consumer protection at an exceptional value. Included in this program are a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty and a five-year/100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan also is part of the comprehensive vehicle coverage.

2012 Kia Optima photo2012 Kia Optima photo

Design-Led Transformation and Product Line
Kia Motors has undergone a dramatic, design-led transformation, which has been delivering dynamically styled vehicles in several important segments at exactly the right time, contributing to the brand's continued gains in U.S. market share. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and brand growth through design innovation, quality, value, safety features and new technology. Kia's commitment to the U.S. market is represented by its U.S.-based manufacturing facilities in West Point, Georgia – KMMG – which is responsible for the creation of more than 10,000 plant and supplier jobs and added the critically acclaimed Optima midsize sedan to its production line in September. Kia's model year 2012 vehicle line includes the Sorento CUV, Sportage compact CUV, Optima midsize sedan, Optima Hybrid, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Forte compact sedan, Forte 5-door compact hatchback, Forte Koup two-door coupe, all-new Rio and Rio 5-door sub-compacts and Sedona minivan.

Find more new 2012 Kia Optima pictures in our 2012 Kia Optima photo gallery (37 photos)

New 2012 Kia Optima specifications, photos and images courtesy of Kia.

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