In-depth reviews

Kia Optima review - Interior, design and technology

The Kia Optima is blessed with good looks and a very high specification

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Interior, design and technology Rating

4.0 out of 5

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There’s no doubt that the Kia Optima is an attractive car. It really stands out from the crowd, benefitting from Kia’s bold design philosophy; it’s long, wide and low, so looks suitably sporty.

Up front, there’s a distinctive nose with Kia’s trademark grille design and LED running lights, while the sweeping roofline features silver trim that follows the line of the doors back to the shallow rear windscreen. The small side windows and slab-sided bodywork give the Optima the look of a coupé, while at the rear, the large LED tail-lights are reminiscent of the Ford Mondeo’s.

Climb inside, and the Kia’s design is not quite as inspiring. The new interior is certainly more crisply styled than the last Optima’s angled dash, but it’s neither particularly inviting nor offensive. Still, even if it looks a bit nondescript, it does feel well built and sturdy, and the material choices are up to standard too.

All trim levels get a leather steering wheel and gearshift, and faux leather armrests. While Optima 2s have cloth seats, the Optima 3 gets faux leather inserts while the old Optima 4 and the current Optima GT Line S have real leather chairs.

You can’t fault the kitbag of toys that Kia fits to all Optima models either, with all versions getting cruise control, auto dimming mirrors and seat height adjustment on top of the haul mentioned earlier. Optima 3 models and above get electric seats too.

The PHEV looks near enough identical, save an extra charge port by the front wheel, some subtle eco badging and a new grille. It's the same story inside, too, apart from a set of slightly different dials and unique sub-menus for the infotainment.


Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

The standard audio system has 6 speakers, but that’s only fitted to the Optima 2. Optima 3 and 4 get the impressive Harman Kardon audio installation with 10 speakers for 590 Watts of output with a big sub-woofer. The sat-nav spec is the same whether you have the seven-inch (Optima 2) or 8-inch screen (Optima 3 and GT Line S), and all cars get Kia connected services.

Despite its flagship status, the Optima PHEV uses Kia’s previous-generation infotainment. It features the same 8.0-inch screen as the 3 and GT Line S, so it has similarly simple yet clear graphics, but it lacks some key features found in the brand’s newer models. For instance, there’s no Apple CarPlay, although Android Auto is included.

On the plus side, the TomTom-backed satellite navigation is easy to operate, plus it features real-time traffic alerts and safety-camera warnings. Also included is the Kia Connected Services facility, which gives you weather updates and access to local services. Wireless charging is also available for compatible smartphones.

The set-up doesn’t look as slick as some rivals and there’s less online connectivity, but the Kia’s menus are easy to navigate and the screen responds well to inputs. Another highlight is the standard Harman Kardon hi-fi, which features 10 speakers and a 590W power output.

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