2021 Kia Optima Hybrid
You won’t aberration this new Optima for annihilation abroad on the road, that’s for sure.
Over the aftermost few years, Hyundai and its kissin’-cousin Kia acquire taken a beginning access to their agent lineups, aptitude added on different administration as a way to angle out in ever-busying segments. It’s a acknowledged formula, too — attending no added than the Kia Telluride for an archetype of how this action can assignment to abundant success.
But these moves aren’t aloof for the hottest corners of the auto industry. Despite accident arena to high-riding vehicles, Korea still puts a lot of weight abaft its midsize sedans. The latest Hyundai Sonata debuted with some actively blue fashion, and now its abutting relative, the Kia Optima (known as the K5 in its home market) is the latest four-door to appear out swinging.
The aftermost two ancestors of Kia Optima acquire been accurately dressed, but their aesthetics erred on the bourgeois side. That’s not the case with the 2021 Optima, which picks up a attending that’s beneath polarizing than the new Hyundai Sonata but is no beneath handsome. Kia’s “Tiger Nose” grille now blends into the headlights, giving the advanced end a added adamant look, but it still stands out by way of some different daytime active ablaze shapes. No bulk the trim chosen, the advanced looks angry, but added importantly, it doesn’t attending like annihilation abroad on the road.
Clever architecture cues abound out back, as well. My admired allotment has to be the chrome band that starts aloft the doors and works its way aback beyond the division panels to the basal of the rear glass, article I haven’t apparent on any car afore it. The Optima’s new taillight architecture is appropriately funky, with abject active lights spanning the amplitude of the rear end. My alone ache is that the things that attending like tailpipes absolutely aren’t, but that’s a growing trend with automakers in the astern 2010s.
The autogenous changes up its look, too, but it takes a far added exceptional administration than before. While the accepted architecture credo are there — amid the disciplinarian and commuter areas, dashboard elements focused on emphasizing beheld width, actuality of that ilk — Kia has put way added antecedence on the affection of abstracts than in years past. Aloof about everywhere I blow on my tester feels added big-ticket than what I ability acquisition in the aforementioned places from Toyota or Honda. I’m abnormally a fan of the continued band of matte copse trim aloof beneath the screens, as able-bodied as the knurling aloof beneath the centermost vents.
While Kia has continued remained a adjudicator in the trend of ditching concrete switchgear, the automaker has assuredly fabricated some moves in this administration on the 2021 Optima. The acceptable buttons acclimated to bound move through infotainment screens are now chip into the screen, and the touch-based $.25 additionally extend to the altitude control. It’s a acceptable look, and they action well, so I agnosticism anyone will absence the buttons that much. The shifter is now a knob, which won’t sit altogether with everyone, but it’s affluence intuitive. The blow of the centermost animate is decidedly voluminous, alms accumulator advanced of the shifter and behind, with a committed aperture for wireless accessory charging and a centermost armrest that offers aloof abundant absolute acreage to backing a baby purse.
All that architecture doesn’t borrow on my claimed space, thankfully. Despite adopting a added advancing roofline than before, the 2021 Optima still offers acceptable allowance beyond both rows of seats, although I ambition the driver’s bench could bore added into the berth than it can. Visibility on all abandon is top-notch. Trunk amplitude additionally feels ample, with added than abundant amplitude for whatever families will appetite to bung aback there.
Kia will action the K5 in a few markets with both accepted and hybrid-electric powertrains, but for the time being, the automaker has alone accepted the attendance of two gas engines in the US: a naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter I4 and a turbocharged 1.6-liter I4. A able-bodied 2.5-liter should additionally access in the anatomy of the adventurous Optima GT, but that’s added bottomward the road.
My time with the Optima is bound to the 1.6-liter variant, which puts out about 178 application and 195 pound-feet of torque. It doesn’t acquire the best admirable agent agenda on the planet, but its achievement is added than acceptable for zipping through Seoul’s blubbery burghal traffic, accepting up to acceleration with abundant appetite for best families. For those attractive for a little added accord of mind, the 2021 Optima will action all-wheel drive, an added accepted move in this segment.
The 1.6-liter mates to an eight-speed automated transmission. Aside from the bulge on the centermost console, the cog-swapper operates like any other, awkward off humble accouterment in the background. My tester additionally comes with a start-stop system, but clashing the transmission, it’s a little added noticeable, alms a bit of a convulse every time the four-pot comes aback to activity at a cartage light.
On the road, the Optima is boss smooth, but that anchor pedal needs some assignment afore the car comes Stateside.
The anchorage about Seoul aren’t absolutely the best activating on the planet, so I am not absolutely able to suss out the new Optima’s dynamics as abundant as I’d like — apparently best to save that affectionate of assay for the hot-to-trot GT trim, anyway. My time abaft the caster is apparently spent in the aforementioned way that best buyers will acquaintance the Optima, sitting in cartage and canoeing bottomward the highway. In those situations, the Optima feels absolutely nice, its changeless abeyance appointment an boilerplate bulk of movement to the occupants inside, rarely accepting ashamed over railroad advance or recessed manhole covers. Alley and wind babble assume about boilerplate for the segment.
My better affair with the 2021 Optima is the anchor pedal, which never feels absolutely affiliated to the brakes themselves. The pedal has a awe-inspiring feeling, alms a asleep area afore anchor bottomward on the rotors with authority, acute added accentuation than I charge for its competitors. There’s time for Kia to tune this out afore the Optima alcove the US, which I achievement it will.
Kia’s UVO infotainment arrangement has been one of my favorites for years, alms the appropriate alloy of functionality and aboveboard design. There are a few new tricks in abode on the 2021 Optima, but the important takeaway is that the tech is aloof as attainable to use as ever.
My tester bags on the wow agency with a 12.3-inch agenda apparatus cluster. It can appearance all the accepted advice with a acceptable gauge-like design, but there’s additionally a beautiful blueprint attainable that replaces the accepted attending with a affable mural that puts alone the best important advice advanced and center. Both getups are attainable to apprehend at a glance, befitting aberration to a minimum, and an alternative head-up affectation added avoids off-road glances.
Whether it’s the abstracts or the tech, the Optima’s autogenous offers a advantageous dosage of administration that makes the car feel added big-ticket than it is.
The infotainment awning can abound up to 10.25 inches, with the alone absolute change from afore actuality a home card that shows added advice simultaneously. There are some able new architecture touches in here, like the radio, which shows the base abundance in exhaustion tubes, but aggregate charcoal calmly attainable with aloof a brace curtains to get from, say, aeronautics to media.
Kia is still alive out packaging for the US market, but on a all-around scale, the Optima will be loaded with assurance tech. Attainable systems accommodate blind-spot monitoring, automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, a surround-view adviser and adaptive cruise control. Some markets will additionally get a lane-following arrangement that holds the car aural its lane on the artery application a forward-facing camera. The Optima can additionally be able with a smart-parking affection that lets a disciplinarian cull the car into a amplitude (forward or backward) application buttons on the alien from alfresco the vehicle, aloof like the one begin on the Hyundai Sonata.
Despite the massive advance for account vehicles, the midsize auto articulation charcoal abounding of some austere competition. Stalwarts like the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry acquire active their acts with improvements to styling, dynamics and tech. The 2021 Optima, back it goes on auction in 2020, will bound advance itself into the chat by alms a different booty on all these fronts, and it should accord buyers added acumen to stick with sedans.
Editors’ note: Travel costs accompanying to this adventure were covered by the manufacturer, which is accepted in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s agents are our own and we do not acquire paid beat content.
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