The 2012 Kia Optima SX

The 2012 Kia Optima SX: 34mpg and pure turbocharged fun

There was a point in time where the suggestion of a great looking Korean sport sedan that had the brass to back up the title would have been little more than a joke but Kia is one of the American auto industry’s most improved brands over the past few years – a fact clearly illustrated by the 2012 Kia Optima SX.

The 2012 Kia Optima SX is the top of the line offering for the model while the Optima itself currently serves as the company’s premium vehicle. This sporty sedan sports the aggressive design that was introduced for the 2011 model year and while some might not care for the distinctive style – I love it. The previous generation of the Kia Optima was much like the rest of their lineup, with styling that allowed them to blend in with the Camrys and Accords of the world but with the introduction of the new Optima – Kia has a sport sedan that stands out against the competition.

The Exterior
The 2012 Kia Optima SX has a long form for a midsized sedan with high fender lines and a low roofline that creates a sleek, slippery form. Up front, the Optima wears a familiar “grin” with the headlights pouring down into the grille while the lower fascia area gives the car a menacing smile. With the large projection headlight units and the large foglights mounted towards the outer edge of front fascia – the Optima provides gobs of light at night while also presenting a very distinct look that we see across the majority of the current Kia lineup. This is one area where some critics of the car might raise an eyebrow but it took balls for Kia to go so aggressive with their exterior design and in my opinion, it paid off 100%.

The long hood and windshield flow seamlessly through the shortish roof and into the fastback style rear glass and trunklid. Along the sides, the Optima has a very high body line that runs from the headlights to the taillights with black b-pillars adding to that “big coupe” feel. The greenhouse has thin pillars in the front and side while the larger, sweeping rear pillar that rolls smoothly into the short trunklid that is punctuated by the subtle rear spoiler. The design of the rear end isn’t as radical as the front end but with large LED taillights that wrap around into the side of the vehicle and the flat black lower fascia with integrated dual exhaust; this rear end has a great sporty feel. The accentuated wheel openings are filled out nicely by the 18” alloy wheels and these help give the Optima a wide, low stance.

Love it or hate it, there is no denying that the 2012 Kia Optima SX has a sleek, sporty design that stands out in the uber crowded midsized sedan segment. There is just enough chrome to add a little “bling” while the black trim on the grille, along the side and across the bottom end emphasize the sporty attitude of the Optima sedan.

The Interior
The 2012 Kia Optima SX is a midsized sedan but when seated inside, it feels much larger than the class designation would leave you to believe. My Optima test car was fitted with both the Technology Package (adding a high end navigation/touch screen setup) and the SX Premium Touring Package (adding things like heated/cooled seats, a rear camera display, power mirrors, an Infinity Audio system with HD radio, the gorgeous panoramic sunroof that stretches over the front and rear passengers and much more. In short, this car was as loaded as a Kia sedan can get and it shows. The two tone leather seats and comfortable and look great while the heating and cooling features add comfort in all sorts of climates. Even with the driver’s seat adjusted for a 6 foot tall driver and a 6 foot tall passenger, there is enough room for the average adult to sit comfortably in the back seat, while offering lots of room for kids. There is a pull-down armrest in the back seat with cup holders when there are only two riders in the back with leather everywhere – from the door panels to the dash to all seating areas.

The leather trimmed dash of the 2012 Kia Optima SX has a cockpit design that is centered around the driver with a large touch screen mounted high on the dash offering stereo and navigation control while, with the push of a button, you can control the climate controls. More importantly, if touch screen controls aren’t your thing, the Optima SX has more traditional knobs and buttons below the touch screen. The Optima SX also offered steering wheel mounted controls for the stereo, the cruise control, the Bluetooth phone system and the in-dash trip information. This central screen in the dash is flanked by two large easy to read gauges displaying the speed and engine RPM. Best of all, the Optima has a paddle shift system that lets the driver select gears with the push of a button – with a great, sporting design.

The 2012 Kia Optima SX interior offers comfort and technology that you find in far more expensive models – leaving you asking for very little in terms of amenities.


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I really enjoyed the SX version while I was looking for a new car. I actually drove the SX 5 different times. Overall I ended up with the VW CC because of 0% financing, but the SX was a very close second tied with the Regal Turbo. I hope the SX golds up well with time.