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Optima: Mid-size sedan exceeds expectations for safety, style, tech

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The new Kia Optima is a stylish five-passenger sedan that has taken what was a sizeable standard features list and added to it for 2018. Kia has always presented itself as a great value and between the 10-year 100,000-mile warranty and those lengthy features lists, there’s really no arguing with that point.

A good deal is just that – a good deal.

Making Optima an even better value is a new list of standard equipment, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay along with a new 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system. Look for additional safety technology, like blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and rear parking sensors to further impress as standards.

Adding Sport

The Optima has always been a sleek, sophisticated sedan since its inception, but the new S Model adds an impressive front bumper treatment that, along with the rear spoiler, gives it a definitive sporty feel. Add in the 17-inch rims, LED fog lights and taillights and the current Optima offers several great looking personalities.

Interior

The Optima comfortably seats five passengers and the front seats in particular are spacious. With plenty of front headroom and legroom, the Optima has plenty of room to get comfortable driving or going along for a ride. Rear seating is slightly tighter, but for mid-size sedans, this is one with great comfort in mind.

Offering 15.9 cu. ft. of trunk space, Optima has room for everything from suitcases to sports equipment. Upgrade Optima’s interior with heated leather seating and you have a perfect friend for Midwest cold mornings.

My Limited tester featured additional upscale options that enhanced the comfort and convenience (times 10) with dual-memory 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, nappa leather seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Sight & Sound

I especially enjoyed Optima’s 7-inch touchscreen along with the use of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto technology. I found it easy to link my phone to the system and access apps, music, and navigation right on the touchscreen.

While the top-end Optima SX Limited offers an amazing 630-watt premium sound system by Harman/Kardon with 10 speakers, most Optima owners will be just fine with the standard 6-speaker audio package.

Performance

The base engine in the Kia Optima is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Offering 185 horsepower, Optima is perfect for daily driving and long trips at prolonged highway speeds.

Two turbocharged engines are available, with the 1.6-L powerplant providing better acceleration than the base engine. The top-level engine, the turbocharged 2.0-L, delivers an impressive 245 horsepower. Expect 25 city/36 highway.

Safety

Optima achieved the highest safety score possible from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating. The convenience of Blind Spot Detection is a huge plus for the Optima.

With a base price of $23,490, and the impressive 10/100,000 warranty, the Optima, like the entire Kia lineup, melds great looks, reliability and safety into one value-packed deal. My SX Limited tester managed to land at $36,095, the high-end of the Optima scale, but even that is slight in price compared to others in the class.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication