MY14 Kia OptimaKia has given its Optima sedan a midlife facelift and added extra equipment, most notably crash avoidance electronics of the type normally associated with the upmarket German marques.

When the latest Kia Optima was introduced at the start of 2011 its sleek swooping lines created quite a stir. Gone was the often awkward shape of many Korean cars of the past, in its place was a sleek vehicle that followed the lines of several European four-door coupes. Which shouldn’t have come as a surprise as the they had been penned by a German designer poached from Audi.

Keen not to interfere overmuch with the shape the 2014 Optima has received only a minor revamp to the grille and the front and rear bumpers. Interesting four-part front foglights, only in the topline Platinum, are an unusual feature.

Inside, Kia aims for a more upmarket image, replacing many of the previous chromed details with satin finishes touches. And the centre console gets the fashionable piano black look. Which looks great, but we have to voice our usual reservation about the way piano black just loves attracting dust and needs wiping over about every 20 minutes to keep it looking at its best. The battle between fashion and function continues…

MY14 Kia Optima
The addition of satellite navigation to the Optima SLi and Platinum models fills a gap that surprised many when the vehicle was initially launched. It has the convenience of Suna traffic warnings and works through a seven-inch touchscreen.

All models get their entertainment from a six-speaker audio system with MP3, Aux and Bluetooth and steering wheel controls.

Mechanically, Kia Optima remains largely unchanged, with the large 2.4-litre petrol engine producing 148 kW of power and 250 Nm of torque. It drives through a six-speed automatic transmission with manual overrides offered by way of paddle shifters.

As well as the usual safety features that result in a five-star crash test rating the latest Kia Optima has numerous systems to let you avoid having to call on that rating.

Particularly in the topline Optima Platinum, which has Rear Cross Traffic Alert that monitors each side of the car when you’re reversing out of a blind parking spot or driveway. Drivers who don’t adjust their door mirrors correctly are helped out by the Platinum checking the blind spots thus created and advising when you shouldn’t change lanes.

MY14 Kia Optima
You won’t find us saying this very often, but the engine is rather too responsive right off the line, making the Optima take off with a real rush. Once on the move it all settles down again and the way the engine reacts is then easy to live with. The automatic transmission changes down promptly, making for a pleasant driving experience.

The front seats are slightly larger than before and offer good support while cornering. Optima certainly isn’t in the high-performance sedan market, but holds the road at speeds much higher than those likely to be attempted by the typical owner. Thus offering excellent levels of safety.

Some may find the ride slightly firmer than they like, try it for yourself during your own road test if you put comfort ahead of sportiness in the suspension equation.

Steering feedback has been improved in this facelifted model, but we still find it on the soft side with the car in the straight ahead position. Once you’re in the bend it feels much better and you can really sense what the car is doing.

Rear seat legroom is very good and four adults can travel in comfort back there, five with a minimum of rubbing of shoulders and hips. Boot space is good and easy to load. Kia Optima can easily be used as a family car. Indeed, these days it isn’t far short of Commodore and Falcon in size.

Kia’s latest Optima is a medium-large family sedan at a moderate price. It carries high levels of equipment, with the $40,490 (plus on-road costs) we tested giving you a huge array of desirable equipment.

The complete 2014 Kia Optima range is:
Si 2.4-litre four-door hatch: $30,990 (automatic)
Si with Navigation 2.4-litre four-door hatch: $35,990 (automatic)
Platinum with Navigation 2.4-litre four-door hatch: $40,490 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for driveaway prices.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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