• 2016 Kia Optima SX
  • 2016 Kia Optima SX

Road Test: 2016 Kia Optima SX 2.0L Limited

The Right Mix of Style, Performance and Value

2016 Kia Optima SX, fuel economy,road test,mpg,luxury

A midsize contender with all of the goodies included

The 2016 Kia Optima comes in five trim levels and continues Kia’s penchant for each trim level having a high content of standard features. In Clean Fleet Report’s earlier review of the 2016 Kia Optima LX, in near base trim, we found it to be a stylish midsize sedan that was comfortable to drive and nicely equipped with features and technology. So when we had the chance to drive the all-new 2016 Kia Optima SX Limited we were curious how it would compare, as it is about as highly optioned as you can get in an Optima. What we found was an extremely quiet, luxurious vehicle in this fully optioned model.


Clean Fleet Report tested the front-wheel drive 2016 Kia Optima SX Limited powered by a 2.0L, turbocharged DOHC, four-cylinder engine with gasoline direct injection (GDI), producing 245 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Running on regular unleaded and mated to a six-speed automatic, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 22 city/32 highway/25 combined. In 275 miles of 75-percent highway/25-percent city driving, we averaged 26.6 mpg, which means we exceeded the EPA’s highway rating of 32 mpg. If you are looking for the most fuel efficient Optima, (excluding the hybrid version) go for the 1.6L turbocharged engine that is rated at 28 City/39 Highway/32 Combined, which Clean Fleet Report achieved a combined mpg of 33.6, meaning we exceeded 40 mpg on the highway.

Driving Experience: On the Road

The Optima SX Limited does not feel as heavy as its 3,594 lbs. might suggest. The car feels confident—if not exciting—when cornering hard. Optima’s electric, power-assisted rack-and-pinion

2016, Kia, Optima, SX, fuel economy, luxury,performance

Ready to take on the gentle roads

steering provided average road feedback, but overall handling was good with its 18-inch, machine-finished alloy wheels and 235/45R 18 all-season tires, MacPherson strut front and coil spring with anti-roll bar rear suspension. The cabin was quiet and smooth at highway speeds.

With peak torque at a low 1,350 rpm and available steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, the 2.0L turbo is smooth and gets-up-and-goes nicely. On a few runs of 0 – 60 mph we were in the 6.6-to-6.8 second range. That’s average for a car of this weight, but you will be able to merge into freeway traffic just fine.

Stopping was straight and true with no fading from the power-assisted ventilated front and rear solid disc brakes, with four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and brake assist.

Driving Experience: Exterior

2016 Kia, Optima SX,styling

Kia leads with style–and stands out because of it

The 2016 Optima SX Limited is the Optima with the highest content trim level. Upgrades on the SX Limited include the aforementioned tires and wheels, dual chrome tip exhaust, chrome accents on the side sills, front and rear bumpers, self-leveling Xenon HID headlamps, rear spoiler and a panoramic sunroof with power shade. Kia says the 2016 Optima SX Limited has “European styling…delivering a class-up experience” which fits nicely with their goal of making the Optima distinguishable from its competition. The difference between the 2015 and 2016 Optima exterior design is subtle, with refinements that include the car being longer and wider, resulting in a larger interior. Let’s just say the 2016 Optima has evolved into one of the best-looking midsize sedans on the market.

Kia’s designers didn’t want to stray too far from the success they achieved with the 2015 styling, but knew they had to move the 2016 Optima design to the next level, making it leaner and sleeker. The front end has wrap-around headlights that extend wide on the fenders, connected by a slim mesh grille. The roofline has a sport coupe look with a raked A-pillar and long swept-back C-pillar leading to a raised deck lid, capped-off with a subtle integrated lip, and, in the case of the SX Limited trim, a tidy little spoiler. Finishing off the rear are narrow, down-and-inward angled LED tail lights that start mid-way through the rear fender and end on the trunk lid.

Driving Experience: Interior

While the exterior of the 2016 Optima SX Limited was massaged, the interior has been completely redesigned for 2016. You will quickly appreciate what Kia has done to make the driving

2016, Kia Optima, SX, interior, dash

Inside the tech goodies are nestled in soft leather, as is the driver

experience one of convenience and comfort. It starts with a simple and clean cockpit layout featuring soft touch materials on the dash and door panels. The steering wheel-mounted cruise, telephone, navigation and audio controls were a part of making driving just that much more convenient. I was especially pleased to see the radio had on/off knobs for volume and channel selection, and that the climate control knobs were a different size than those for the radio. This may not seem like a big thing, but it is when reaching for these very different controls in the dark—regardless of your familiarity with the dash layout.

Clean Fleet Report was driving the 2016 Kia Optima SX Limited which, as a trim level, is jammed-packed with features and technology. The dash layout is only slightly angled towards the driver, which will make your front seat passenger happy when adjusting the radio. The gauges are easy to read and find at a quick glance with white numbers on a black background. Our Optima SX Limited came with an eight-inch LCD touch-screen monitor where you will find Kia’s UVO connectivity platform and the wonderful sounding Harman/Kardon Premium Surround Sound audio system that featured 10 speakers.  This system delivers deep bass and crisp treble for the SiriusXM (three-month trial subscription), Sirius traffic and the AM/FM/HD/CD/MP3 radio. You also get rapid charge USB ports, iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone and a rear-view camera display.

2016, Kia Optima SX, interior,road test

Room for three but comfort for two

The heated and ventilated, quilted front Nappa leather seats had a much-appreciated 12-way power adjustment. The passenger gets 10-way power adjustments. The driver gets a tilt and telescoping steering column and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls for Bluetooth, audio and cruise. The Optima SX Limited can seat three adults in the 60/40 split bench rear seat, of which the outboard seats are heated. For longer trips two adults would be more comfortable where they could take advantage of the fold down armrest with cup holders.

The Optima SX Limited came standard with dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear vents in the center console, power heated and folding mirrors with LED turn signals, power windows and door locks, multiple cup holders, carpeted and logoed floor mats, front center console arm rest with cup holders, auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual map lights and lighted vanity mirrors, and USB and a 12-volt accessory outlet up front.

Safety and Convenience

2016 Kia Optima SX

Kia reaches for the sky

Clean Fleet Report’s 2016 Optima SX Limited came with safety and convenience features including seven air bags, remote keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring system, push-button start, electronic stability control, traction control, vehicle stability management, hill start assist, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking, front collision and lane departure warning, Surround View Monitor, anti-theft engine immobilizer, Advanced Smart Cruise Control and four-wheel disc anti-lock Brakes (ABS) with brake assist.

In crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the 2016 Kia Optima has an Overall 5-Star rating, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2016 Optima its highest rating of a Top Safety Pick.

Pricing and Warranties

MSRP for the five 2016 Kia Optima trim levels range from $22,140 to $36,040. Clean Fleet Report’s 2016 Optima SX Limited 2.0L had an MSRP of $36,040. Options are extra on lower trim levels

2016 Kia Optima SX, pricing, warranties,options

A different set of wheels is the only option on the top-of-the-line SX Limted

and all prices exclude the $825 freight and handling charge.

The 2016 Kia Optima SX comes with these warranties:

  • Basic – Five years/60,000 miles
  • Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
  • Roadside Assistance – Five years/60,000 miles

Observations: 2016 Kia Optima SX Limited 2.0L Turbo

2016 Kia Optima SX,luxury,review,road test

The Optima edges into the luxury market

The $14,000 price range between the base and fully optioned Optima gives you a wide choice of trim and option levels. Our review of the base trim level Optima LX revealed a nicely optioned car at a very reasonable cost. Leap to the 2016 Optima SX Limited 2.0L, reviewed here, and you have a stylish, comfortable and fully optioned mid-size sedan for well-under $40,000.

The 2016 Kia Optima SX Limited is one of the quietest cars in the midsize sedan category. Incorporating acoustic laminated front door glass, increased insulation under the dash and chassis (to absorb engine, transmission and road noise), the interior becomes a place rivaling luxury cars with an excellent level of refinement and attention to detail.

Kia designers have brought the Optima SX Limited closer to their K900 and Cadenza level of luxury, while keeping the price less than many of its midsize sedan rivals. Check out which Optima fits your driving needs and lifestyle and you just may impress the neighbors with one of the best looking sedans on the market.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

Related Midsize Sedan Tests You Might Enjoy:

Road Test: 2016 Kia Optima 1.6L Turbo

Road Test: 2016 Volkswagen Passat

First Drive: 2016 Toyota Prius

Road Test: 2016 Honda Accord

Road Test: 2016 Mazda6

Road Test: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

First Drive: 2016 Nissan Altima


Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

4 thoughts on “Road Test: 2016 Kia Optima SX 2.0L Limited

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