Following a thorough refresh last year the Kia Optima hits 2015 with only minor changes. Among them, the UVO infotainment system has been upgraded, cruise control placement is more ergonomically friendly, and an acoustic laminated windshield is standard.
The 2015 Kia Optima comes in five different trims, LX, EX, SX, SX Turbo and SXL Turbo. LX and EX models come with a 200-horsepower, 2.4L direct-injection 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. The Optima SX-Turbo and the SXL get a more powerful 2.0L turbocharged engine, which makes 274 horsepower. Like the 2.4L, it is mated to a 6-speed automatic.
The Kia Optima Hybrid comes in LX and EX trims. The hybrid powertrain consists of a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine, a lithium polymer battery and electric motor to wring a total output of 159 horsepower. A 6-speed automatic transmission is the only transmission available for the Hybrid.
No matter the trim, the Optima comes with the same body style and essentially the same interior appointments, within a very contemporary exterior. At nearly 191 inches long, with a wheelbase of about 110 inches, the Optima is at the larger end of mid-size, and its cabin layout feels very spacious. The 5-passenger layout includes 60/40-split rear seatbacks in all models, and there's enough width for three adults to fit across in the back seat. Ride quality is compliant, yet handling is quite responsive for a 4-door sedan, with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link setup in back, with coil springs and front anti-roll bars.
The 2015 Optima is highly fuel-efficient, and that holds true no matter which model is chosen. Base 2.4L models get an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city, 35 highway, while SX and SXL Turbo models get 22/34 mpg. An Active Eco system, which helps improve fuel efficiency by promoting better driving habits and smartly managing accessories, is standard on all the models as well.
The Hybrid model improves on this already-impressive fuel economy rating. It is capable of a surprising 40 mpg highway/46 mpg city.
Base-level LX models come with a height-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar support, power locks, windows and mirrors, heated exterior mirrors, a cooled glovebox and cruise control. The base sound system includes satellite-radio capability, Bluetooth hands-free calling features and steering-wheel audio controls. At the mid-range EX level, the Optima includes upgraded 17-inch alloy wheels, leather trim, wood door trim and metal bezels for the center console, plus leather upholstery, push-button start, a Smart Key system, dual-zone climate control, rear vents, a universal garage-door opener, a 10-way adjustable power driver's seat, additional interior lighting and floor mats. The SX gets sporty suspension, paddle shifters on the steering wheel, a sportier exterior appearance, LED taillights and 18-inch alloy wheels. The SX Turbo includes the more powerful engine, but also gets HID headlamps. Top of the line SXL models come with nearly every feature available, and also include 19-inch wheels, Napa leather seat-trim and exterior chrome accents.
Major options on the Optima include a Convenience Package on the base LX, which includes an auto-dimming rear mirror and an uprated stereo. EX models can be optioned with a Premium Package that brings various upgrades, including heated-and-cooled front seats, a power passenger seat, Infinity audio, power-folding mirrors, a rear camera and Kia's more sophisticated UVO connectivity system. Premium Package-equipped SX models also get a blind spot detection system and a backup warning system in addition to everything else included in the package.
Safety features are well represented too, with seat-mounted side airbags in front, side-curtain bags that cover first and second rows, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist and Hill Assist Control for smooth starts when facing uphill.