Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Come to Kia in the 2016 Optima + First Impressions

chipchickpick1Total smartphone integration is finally coming to Kia — the 2016 Kia Optima will be their first model with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, making safe smartphone use in the car kinda more possible. On that note, we’re seeing a lot of new safety features, too, making for a technologically sophisticated midsize sedan at an affordable price.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility will be available through Kia’s UVO infotainment system. Using those systems and a compatible smartphone (running at least Android 5.0 or iOS 8 or higher), drivers will be able to access basic functions like messaging, email, and phone calls from the Optima’s 8″ touch display, although the idea is to use voice commands more than anything. That touch display will also be home to the full suite of anti-teen features — geofencing, speed alert, curfew alert, and driving score. If this car rolls up to the driveway, the kids can pretty much kiss sneaking out late at night goodbye — geofencing will tell parents when the car has been taken out of a designated zone, while speed alerts will notify them when the car is going above a preset limit and curfew alerts will go off when the car is taken out past a certain time.

Kia has also added smart high beams, which dim when oncoming traffic is detected, to the 2016 Optima, while letting some old safety features trickle down to cheaper trims. Rear cameras now come standard, with full 360-degree cameras starting on the SX trim. The 2016 Optima can also be purchased with advanced smart cruise control, blind spot, detection, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking assist, front collision warnings, lane departure warnings, and automatic emergency braking, although most of these are still reserved for the high-end SX and SXL trims.

The sound system has also been revamped, more expensive trims have access to an optional 10-speaker system from Harman that uses a 630-watt amplifier and Clari-Fi technology, which restores some of the lost range to compressed digital music. It’ll also incorporate Harman’s new QuantumLogic technology, which has been coming primarily to vehicle speaker systems so far. QuantumLogic plays with sound channels to create a larger soundstage, something uniquely tricky to pull off in the confines of a car — but pull it off Harman does, and to great effect.

Under the hood, things won’t be too much different from the 2015 Optima. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder, capable of 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, will come in the LX and EX trims, while the 2.0-liter turbo, capable of 245 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, will be in the SXL and SX trims. This time around, there’s also the option of a more economical 1.6-liter four-cylinder on a special LX trim, which, according to Kia, marries superior fuel efficiency with decent performance at 178 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque.

Next: Our first impressions

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