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Long a staple of the midsize sedan marketplace, the Kia Optima combines attractive styling with an upscale interior, strong performance, and top safety rankings. Loaded with features, it’s an easy car to live with and offers a lot of value for any budget. 

According to US News, the 2016 Kia Optima ranks highly in its Affordable Midsize Cars category. The company praised it for its handling and spacious, comfortable interior. Flaws are few, but nitpicked on the steering, which US News said: “may feel overly sensitive to some.”  

Considering all the pluses and minuses, is the 2016 Kia Optima a good used car? Let’s take a closer look and tell you what you need to know about buying one.

Performance and Fuel Economy

A dark blue 2016 Kia Optima parked outdoors.
2016 Kia Optima | Christopher Evans via Getty Images

The standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 185 hp and 178 lb-feet of torque. It’s a serviceable engine that’s on par with the base engines from other companies, but it’s not the one you want. Better options include a pair of turbocharged engines, including a 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter version.

The 1.6 has similar numbers to the 2.4 with 178 hp and 195 lb-feet of torque. However, the 2.0 is the performer of the bunch, offering up to 245 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, but it is only available on the SX and the SXL trim levels. 

The 1.6 engine is the Goldilocks of the trio. According to Car and Driver, it serves up a 7.3 second 0 to 60 mph time while returning 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. By comparison, the 2.4-liter is slower and less efficient with a 7.9 second 0 to 60 time, while the 2.0 is about half a second faster while getting seven miles per gallon less.   

Features and Safety Ratings

Style and safety come standard on every Kia Optima. The 2016 model is bestowed with a handsome design that has held up well. But the beauty is more than skin deep, thanks to the Good and Five-Star crash ratings from the IIHS and NHTSA. 

The EX comes well equipped with standard dual-zone automatic climate control, USB, and 12-volt power outlets front and rear. Leather seats with heat in the front row and a heated steering wheel are included, as is a power driver’s seat with memory function. The infotainment system consists of a backup camera and a 5.0-inch touchscreen display.

Options for the EX as well as standard features on higher trim packages include a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, a power passenger seat, navigation with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and LED interior lighting. A Premium Audio package adds a Harman and Kardon surround-sound system, and heated outboard rear seats were available. When new, checking all the boxes got you a car that cost just over $30,000 but offered features of a car costing twice more. 

For the price, you’d think Kia would cut corners, but the Optima nails all the details. The interior is spacious with first class materials. Everything is intuitive, easy to use, and operates with a solid feel. From the layout down to the font on the controls, everything is well thought out and executed. 


The 2016 Optima rates 3.5 out of five stars for reliability, which is above average for this class. But its estimated five-year costs are much lower. The estimated total for gas, insurance, maintenance, and repairs on the 2016 Optima are about $21,900. This cost compares very favorably to the average for 2016 midsize sedans, which was roughly $900 more.  

Is the 2016 Kia Optima Worth Buying? 

If your goal is to buy the best midsize sedan for the money, the Kia Optima should be in the running. It stands out on features and price alone. But where it really shines is its execution of the details. Throw in top safety ratings and a sense of style, and its almost unbeatable. 

There are cars like the Toyota Camry which perform better, or the Honda Accord, which is more engaging to drive. But even those stalwarts of the midsize class take a back seat to the Optima’s all around goodness.  


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