Review of 2012 KIA Optima EX

We have now owned our 2012 KIA Optima EX for 32 months and still think of it as a new car. One might say we have been lucky but I do believe that KIA has a good design here.

2012 KIA Optima EX

2012 KIA Optima EX as received new.


The model that we purchased came with a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection (GDI) with a claimed 200 HP and 186 lb-ft of torque, air conditioning, 6-speed automatic transmission, heated front seats, leather interior, power adjustable driver’s seat, power trunk, power windows (one touch on the front windows), power mirrors (heated), dual zone heating/cooling, 17-inch wheels, six air-bags, fog lamps, cruise control, voice control entertainment system with 6-speakers, Bluetooth for hands-free phone, reversing camera, USB for charging etc., outside temperature readout, digital compass, rain-sensing wipers, anti-skid braking and anti-slip acceleration, lighted vanity mirrors and cooled glove box. There may be other features that I have missed listing but this was an incredible bunch of desirables as far as I was concerned when we were shopping for a vehicle.

What Made This One Different?

One of the main reasons that we chose car over the several others we considered was due to the leg room. This was one of two cars that gave me adequate space to stretch my legs. The other choice was a Buick Verano. I did try a few others brands but the KIA gave the best package, although after adding 5 way protection (leather, paint, perforation, glass, etc.), the price was significantly more than my original intent.


The performance is very respectable for a smallish motor and the significant torque at low rpm is surprising at times. Cruising at above legal speeds is very easy to do and I find myself using the cruise control to reduce the urge to speed. Passing other vehicles may require more throttle than one expects but the motor willingly revs to achieve the necessary acceleration and never seems to complain. I have kept track of every litre of fuel that the KIA has used since new and the overall fuel consumption to date (which includes three very cold winters in Ontario) is 32.8 miles to the Imperial gallon or 8.6 L/100 km. On long trips or summertime driving, it is simple to achieve 40 mpg – very respectable for the size and weight of the vehicle. The fuel consumption was another significant reason for buying the Optima.

Features That We Use a Lot

The reversing camera is a wonderful addition to any car, and the KIA’s works well, and I use it on almost every trip. These devices are becoming a standard feature on vehicles these days and that is a good thing. The cruise control works beautifully – better than any other vehicle I have owned. The music system and Bluetooth phone capability we use all the time and are happy with the performance. The set and forget dual zone temperature control is a very welcome departure from continually fiddling with the temperature settings as on our previous vehicles. The self-dimming interior rear-view mirror works well and is well worth having. The automatic volume control when slowing down or speeding up is nice to have and makes driving a little less busy (and keeps one’s hands on the wheel too). I have used the manual shift option occasionally but mostly when descending hills at low speed when I need a little more holding power from the motor, although the brakes are first class and this is not strictly necessary. I believe that the manual shift is a nice feature to have available though.

If I Had to Complain

The reversing camera does get dirty (especially in the wintertime with salt on the roads) occasionally. However, it is a simple matter to clean the lens. As well, had the GPS navigator option been a less expensive option, I would have preferred to have that built in instead of using the external unit we have. This is a small inconvenience, however.

In My Opinion

The Optima is a good-looking four door sedan that feels sporty when you are driving it. It is comfortable, designed well, easy to drive (and like) and has so far been very reliable with only regular maintenance. There are many little touches that one discovers after the first few weeks that have one saying “that was a good idea” and “I really like the way they have done that”.  As with almost every purchase a consumer makes these days, it would be great if the Optima were less expensive. However, I am convinced that the money spent was wisely spent and we have received good value. It is not difficult to recommend this brand and model of vehicle to anyone looking for reasonable value and a wonderful experience every time they drive their car.


About 12stringman

Retired but not expired
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