February 8, 2012

Review: Kia Optima / K5 — Sweet dreams are made of this

Travel the world and the seven seas to discover: a few versions of the Kia Optima with significantly higher fuel effiiency. The stuff really sweet dreams are made of!

The most sighed-over car commercial shown at the 2012 Superbowl must have been the Kia Optima ad, ninety seconds of pure male fantasy featuring the very lovely Adriana Lima. In case you haven't tired of it, here it is again:

"A dream car. For real life."

Now here's the thing: Kia has made the exterior of this car the same in their markets all over the world, but what's under the hood is a different story. In the US, the 2012 Kia Optima comes with either a 2.4L gasoline injection engine, or a 2.0L gasoline turbo putting out 274 HP, as over the top as the new ad. Fuel economy: 22 / 34 mpg (cty/hwy).

In the UK, you can't get anything that gas-guzzly: there, they have phased out the 2.0L engine for what used to be called the Magentis, and now your only option for the Optima is a 1.7L diesel injection engine. This still puts out a respectable 134 HP and gets an advertised 48 mpg, so in the real world I estimate you can do around 44 mpg (this car is too recent an introduction for much real-life data to be available).

The marketing is equally understated. Check out this commercial made for the UK, what the Brits would call a "TV advert": it is truly a study in understatement, hilarious (in a quiet kind of way) - and a tad different from the US TV ad.

"Park the clichés: drive the new Kia Optima"

In Asia, Kia calls this car the K5. In the South Korean home market, it is available with a 2.0L CVVL engine (35mpg) and a 2.0L LPI engine (26mpg) which I take to run on LPG (but I couldn't work myself through the Korean enough to be sure about that). There is also, since 2011, a hybrid version that sports an official 49 mpg (should be close to 45 mpg in real life).

Now that's something I call worth dreaming about. How much longer before that dream comes true in the US?

Here is the Asian commercial, reflecting the global aspirations of this Korean car manufacturer (despite the wonky English), and dreamy in a different way:

"To the world best: K5"

Actually, this car is not CelloMom's cup of tea. It's too large for me; besides, I just don't get the aesthetic that would marry the words "attractive" and "aggressive" into an oxymoronic "attractively aggressive".

But at a time when many cars are downgraded to a 3-year limited warranty, the Kia Optima is one of those cars that still comes with an old-fashioned 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty in the US, and (bafflingly) a 7-year, 100,000 mile warranty for the UK. You wonder if that means that they use better parts for Optimas sold in the US, where the highly variable climate is much harsher on cars and all their parts.


UPDATE 11DEC2012: The dream has come true! For 2013 Kia is offering the Optima Hybrid in the US, with EPA fuel efficiency 34 / 39 mpg (cty/hwy), lower than my estimate, above. Reviewed by Nicole at MamaNYC.


Kia Optima / K5 Hybrid


Optima (US) Optima (UK) K5 (S. Korea)
Type EX Turbo 1-Luxe Hybrid
Year 2012 2012 2012
Emissions rating EURO 5  
MSRP $ 25,100 £ 19.595
($ 31,150)
₩ 31,080,000
($ 27,800)
CelloMom Rating      
Fuel Economy:
City/Hwy quoted 22 / 34 mpg 41 / 53 mpg  
Avg. quoted   48 mpg 21km/L (49mpg)
Avg. actual 27 mpg 44 mpg est. 45 mpg est.

2.0L GDI Turbo

1.7L CRDi 2.0L HEV
Power 274 hp @ 6000rpm 134 hp @ 4000rpm 149 hp &
30 kW
Gears 6-spd Auto 6-spd manual Auto
Fuel Regular unleaded Diesel Gasoline
Length, mm(in) 190.7in 4845 mm  
Width, mm(in) 72.05in 1830 mm  
Height, mm(in) 57.28in 1455 mm  
Weight, kg(lbs) 3385 lbs 1559 kg  
Trunk volume, liters(cuft) 15.42 cuft 505 L  
Turning radius, m(ft) 35.76 ft c-c 10.9m c-c  
Top speed, kph(mph)      



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1 comment:

  1. Whoa...that was my first time seeing the U.S. commercial. Not sure I was quite prepared for that! Lol! Seriously, this is such great information. Thanks so much for gathering it and sharing it!


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