2016 Kia Optima: New model stays the course on styling

Larger size and modest styling changes front the 2016 Kia Optima.

As the saying goes, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Korean automaker Kia takes the adage and its midsize car design all the way to the bank with the popular Optima 4-door sedan.

Introduced in 2010, Optima is the volume leader in Kia’s portfolio and its perennial best-selling vehicle over the past five years.

Optima is also the first Kia model to exceed 150,000 annual sales.

Kia Optima is anything but ordinary in the sea of midsize sedans flooding today’s marketplace.

Staying true to form, the 2016 Kia Optima receives a slight face-lift from the original front end design with subtle changes to the grille and headlamp treatments.

Prominent large gills replace fog lamp housings flanking the lower valance.

Redesigned taillights and the addition of an integrated ducktail trunk spoiler showcase Optima’s rear fascia.

The dimensions of the 2016 Optima are slightly longer, wider and taller than the outgoing model giving rise to greater interior space.

Cabin contours are noticeably more linear with quilted diamond stitched leather upholstery to soothe five occupants.

Although the instrument panel and center stack have been fashionably redesigned, the top leading edge of the dashboard lacks ‘pop’ and seems plain by comparison to its surroundings.

Optima’s available 10-speaker 630–watt harmon/kardon premium audio system with quantum logic surround sound is a first-time offering in a Kia vehicle.

Three engine choices front the 2016 Optima LX, EX, SX and SXL model line.

Leading the LX powertrain is a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that builds 185 horsepower.

LX also comes with a new 1.6L turbo four-cylinder that generates 178 hp teamed to Kia’s first 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

I tested the Optima SXL with a 245 hp 2.0L turbo engine (also available on SX) that provides generous power on demand without turbo lag managed by a 6-speed automatic.

Technical upgrades include forward collision warning, autonomous braking and surround-view monitoring system.

The 2016 Kia Optima arrives at dealers this month priced from $21,840-$35,790.