The 2016 Kia Optima sedan has made its official debut at today’s New York International Auto Show.

Kia2016OptimaSX-04

The upcoming mid-sized sedan will be in Australia late this year with a choice of two engines, including a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo previously unavailable for our market alongside the existing 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol.

2016 Kia Optima SX

The 2.0-litre turbo makes 184kW of power and 352Nm of torque. This represents a slight downgrade from the previous-generation’s 204kW and 365Nm output (using the same engine). Kia says the retune is to improve fuel economy and torque at lower RPM.

The 2.4-litre engine also loses power for economy’s sake, now outputting 138kW (down 10kW) and 241Nm (down 9Nm). Both engines are coupled to the same six-speed automatic transmission.

2016 Kia Optima SX-L

Australia misses out on the new 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo (133kW, 264Nm), which is coupled to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

From the outside, the new Kia Optima is instantly recognisable as an Optima, with Kia admitting that the car’s design had to “strike a delicate balance, retaining the identity of the vehicle while, at the same time, making a confident move forward”.

2016 Kia Optima SX-L

On the top spec models the South Korean company’s signature tiger-nose grille is now hot stamped and poised to look a lot like Kia’s luxury sedan, the K900 (Kia’s version of the Hyundai Genesis).

Kia also showed off its bi-functional HID headlights that incorporate dynamic bending lamps (that light up the road around corners) and high beam assist (recognises oncoming traffic and automatically switches the lights to low beam and then back to high).

2016 Kia Optima SX

The 2016 Kia Optima’s wheelbase now measures 2804mm (increased by 10mm over its predecessor) and 1859mm wide (extended by 25mm).

Kia claims the slightly larger dimensions and better interior packaging have allowed for more head, shoulder and rear seat legroom (though full specifications are yet to be made available). The boot is also slightly larger than before.

On the inside Kia says it has brought elements of its K900 to the Optima, with more use of soft-touch materials.

2016 Kia Optima SX-L

 

There’s also genuine stitching along the dash and doors, which Kia designers have complimented with metallic accents (differing by trim level).

As with the previous model, the infotainment system is driver-oriented, now with fewer buttons and a wider centre console to accompany.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen gains Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, making it a seamless experience for the great majority of smartphone users to easily use the best features of their phone (like navigation, SMS, calls, calendar and plenty of third party apps) via the car’s screen.

Other new technology features include Geo-fencing (which can alert the owner if it has been taken outside a set area), speed and curfew alert. It’s unlikely these three features will make it to Australian delivered vehicles.

On the comfort side, the brand has updated the Optima’s seats, with a stiffer frame, more thigh support and denser side bolsters. The seats can be had in cloth, leather or Nappa leather depending on variant.

Kia says it has significantly increased the use of higher quality material in the new Optima’s construction compared to the previous car. With 150 percent more use of advanced high strength steel (AHSS), which now makes up 50 percent of the body

2016-kia-optima-interior-2

Body rigidity and noise vibration and harshness (NVH) levels have both been improved, with a 450 percent increase in the use of structural adhesive and 350 percent increase of hot stamped components over the previous generation Optima.

On a more technical note, a larger full floor under cover, increased dash insulation and added windshield side moulding all help reduce road noise in the cabin, the company claims.

The results are a vehicle that is both lighter and more rigid than its predecessor. Kia has even applied carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic for the support structure of the panoramic sunroof to save weight and lower the centre of gravity.

2016 Kia Optima SX

From a driving dynamics standpoint, the Kia Optima will be tuned for Australian roads before it goes on sale, no doubt significantly improving the factory setting that is more tailored to the American market.

Kia Australia now has more to work with as well, with the new Optima securing stiffer engine mounts, body panels and wheels while incorporating larger cross-member bushings.

There’s also the upgrade from dual bushing mounts for the front and rear sub frames to four-bushing mounts, in addition to the larger dual lower control arms at the rear. While the suspension location points of the front and rear sub-frames have both been moved further outward.

2016 Kia Optima SX-L

The 2016 Kia Optima utilises a rack-mounted motor driven power steering (R-MDPS), which Kia claims will deliver significantly improved response in combination with the previously mentioned changes.

On the safety front, the new Kia Optima is available overseas with 360-degree around view monitor, advanced smart cruise control, blind spot and rear cross traffic detection as well as autonomous emergency braking.

Some of these technologies have already been introduced on the top-spec Kia Carnival in Australia, however it’s uncertain whether they will make it on the Platinum variant of the Optima as standard kit.

Local pricing and specifications are yet to be confirmed, however we suspect Kia Australia to maintain a similar pricing and variant lineup with the addition of the turbo model – which in its Hyundai Sonata Turbo-equivalent form currently sells for $36,900.

EngineEX 2.4SX 2.0T
TypeFour-cylinder,aluminum block and headFour-cylinder,aluminum block and head
Valve SystemIntakeECVVTDOHCwith dual CVVT
Estimated horsepower (hp @ rpm)185hp @ 6,000 rpm247

hp @

6,000 rpm
Estimated torque (lb. ft. @ rpm)178lb. ft. @ 4,000 rpm260lb. ft. @ 1,350 rpm
Displacement (cc)144(2,359 cc)122(1998 cc)
Compression ratio11.3:110.0:1
Fuel tank capacity (gal.)18.5gal.18.5gal.
Emission rating: Tier-2 (Bin 5)50-stateLEV-III (ULEV)/CAL LEV-III (SULEV)50-stateLEV-II (ULEV)
Fuel RequirementRegularunleaded (87 Octane or higher)Regularunleaded (87 Octane or higher)
GeneralEX 2.4SX 2.0T
Bodyconfiguration4-door sedan4-door sedan
Body typeSteelunibodySteelunibody
Drivetrain layoutFrontengine, front driveFrontengine, front drive
Passenger capacity5Passenger5Passenger
DrivetrainEX 2.4SX 2.0T
TransmissionElectronically-controlledSix-speed automatic, overdrive w/ Sportmatic™Electronically-controlledSix-speed automatic, overdrive w/ Sportmatic™
Gear ratios
First4.2124.766
Second2.6372.946
Third1.81.917
Fourth1.3861.42
Fifth11
Sixth0.7720.772
Seventh--
Reverse3.3853.393
Final drive2.8852.885
Clutch typeTorqueconverterTorqueconverter
ExteriorDimensionsEX 2.4SX 2.0T
Overalllength mm/(in.)4,855 mm (191.1in.)4,855 mm (191.1in.)
Overall width mm/(in.)1,860mm (73.2 in.)1,860mm (73.2 in.)
Overall height without roof rails mm/(in.)1,465mm (57.7 in.)1,465mm (57.7 in.)
Wheelbase mm/(in.)2,805mm (110.4 in.)2,805mm (110.4 in.)
InteriorDimensionsEX 2.4SX 2.0T
Leg room
Front mm/(in.)1,155mm (45.4 in.)1,155mm (45.4 in.)
Rear mm/(in.)905

mm

(35.6 in.)
905

mm

(35.6 in.)
Head room
Front mm/(in.)1,020

mm

(40.1 in.)
1,020

mm

(40.1 in.)
Rear mm/(in.)970

mm

(38.1 in.)
970

mm

(38.1 in.)
Shoulder room
Front mm/(in.)1,475mm (58.0 in.)1,475mm (58.0 in.)
Rear mm/(in.)1,432mm (56.3 in.)1,432mm (56.3 in.)
SuspensionEX 2.4SX 2.0T
FrontIndependent,MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer barIndependent,MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
RearIndependent,Multi-link, stabilizer bar, HPD (High Performance Dampers)Independent,Multi-link, stabilizer bar, HPD (High Performance Dampers)
Type-Sporttuned
SteeringEX 2.4SX 2.0T
TypeC-MDPS (MotorDriven Power Steering)R-MDPS (MotorDriven Power Steering)
BrakesEX 2.4SX 2.0T
TypePower-assistedbraking systemPower-assistedbraking system
Tires& WheelsEX 2.4SX 2.0T
Tires215/55 R17225/45 R18
Wheels17x 6.518x 7.5
FuelEconomyEX 2.4SX 2.0T
FuelsystemGasoline DirectInjectedGasoline DirectInjected