2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo Review

Lets face it, when you think of a KIA – horsepower, sleek lines, fuel efficiency and overall sex appeal usually doesn’t come to mind. But the 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo is certainly all that and more. The Kia Optima SX Turbo has it all for both men and women – that includes the 274-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four with 269 lb-ft of torque,  power seats, metal covered pedals, Bluetooth capability, leather touches, smooth handling and a solid build.

The Kia Optima SX Turbo does a great job at getting you your monies worth and a few jealous stares along the way. The Optima SX Turbo incorporates touches you would find in much more pricier vehicles rather than this Korean import. A key fob, 18″ alloy tires, iPod/iPhone integration, fog lights, power drivers seat with lumbar support and Bluetooth capabilities for handsfree talking. If you are willing to shell out a few bucks more, a panoramic sunroof, heated seats and a rear camera are also just a few of the available options. Those features are just scraping the surface of what else this car has and can do.

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At a full tank of gas the Optima SX Turbo will crank out 447 miles for you. We spent about $60 bucks to fill up the entire tank with regular. Depending on how much you drive in the city or on the highway, we found Kia’s EPA city/highway driving: 22/34 mpg to be right on par.  While the Optima does a pretty good handling stop and go traffic on the busy streets of New York. It loves the open road even, better but don’t most cars? Highway driving was smooth and handled the winding roads of upstate with aplomb. Even some icy roads didn’t make the Optima SX Turbo sweat. Although tire traction could have been a bit better, all in all some snowy roads were a cinch to drive into and out of.  On one tank of gas we drove from New York City to Plattsburg, NY which is about 420 miles from the city. This also included a few pit stops along the way, heat pumping and radio thumping.

The climate system in the Kia Optima SX resolves those age old fights of drivers and passengers bickering over being hot and cold. Each person has the ability to control their own temperature with a jog wheel. The temperature is then digitally seen on the LCD console. The same can be said for Sirius XM, Bluetooth, AUX and Navigation controls (if you get the technology package). Everything can be seen and controlled via the LCD touchscreen console. The console at first is a bit overwhelming, but after a day or so you get the hang of it and how to operate everything you need in one place. When you connect your iPod/iPhone via the external ports (which also includes a 30 pin connector cable– nice!) your playlist will automatically be seen on the console and can be operated in any manner you choose. Play through your playlists alphabetically, by artist or random.  All the controls are at your finger tips. There is nothing that even an amateur at these systems can’t master in more than a few days.

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The Navigation system was particularly user friendly and was a pleasure to use especially when you find yourself off the beaten path. Unlike so many other GPS systems we have used in the past, this one always kept us right on track even if it sent us out of the way a few times.

I was disappointed though that with so many fine features packed into this car, the visor wasn’t a bit more dressed up, perhaps with a better quality mirror or light. Lighting in the car was also on the darker side. Even with two sets of roof lighting, one in the front and one in the backseat.  The car wasn’t well lit enough at times for me to find things I dropped. The bucket seats are cushy too, but for those who like to eat and drink while driving, you’ll find cleaning them to be an extra hassle because of the mesh material design that likes to hold on to your crumbs more than other seats do.

The Optima SX Turbo also doesn’t like potholes. While others may bounce out of them easily, the Optima SX lands in them hard and boy do you feel it. So perhaps with future models the suspension system will be able to handle rougher roads.  The tires are also very attractive to look at with their 18” alloy rims, but they seem to get scuffed up very easily when parked tightly next to a curb.

Those few gripes aside, the Kia Optima SX turbo is great car that is feature rich without burning a hole into your wallet. You’ll feel great behind the wheel and look great driving it. The MSRP for the Kia Optima SX Turbo costs $25,995. If you purchase the additional packages like the Technology Package or SX Premium Package it will cost you an additional $4150, and in our opinion, you’ll have one mac-daddy of a car for a fraction of the cost compared to its competition. Even though the KIA 2012 models are just being rolled out, if you can get your hands on a Kia Optima SX Turbo 2011, it’s still worth checking it out and you may even get the 2011 at a discounted price now.

The Good: Smooth handling; great looking car; fuel efficiency is top notch;  includes standard features you wouldn’t normally find in this price range; horsepower makes driving on the open road delicious; the additional packages really take the Optima SX Turbo to the next level.

The Bad: Tires aren’t the best; infinity speakers sounded kind of empty; seats don’t clean easily; lighting in cabin is kind of poor; lots of blind spots, suspension system doesn’t handle potholes and rough roads well

One Comment

  1. Suspension does not like potholes? Are you kidding, right? It’s SX, sport tuned suspensions. It’s supposed to be firm to improve handling and turning. If you need softer suspension, you should go for EX.

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