Kia Optima provides pleasant surprises
By Stephen Groessel
The 2013 Kia Optima SXL

Although I read and hear good things about the Kia vehicle, the opportunity to find out for myself what this car has to offer pleasantly surprised me.

I discovered what is behind the Kia logo used by Dick Brantmeier Kia of Sheboygan, “The Power to Surprise.” And that it did, indeed!

I had the chance to visit the dealership and test drive the Kia Optima SXL. But before taking it for a ride, I visited with sales consultant Bill Mc-Donald III.

McDonald told me the Kia Optima mid-size sedan is their top seller, and that they have a hard time keeping them on the lot. Its appeal is traced to people of all ages and walks of life. He described it as a sporty vehicle but one with a luxurious appearance. Its overall luxury is quite competitive with cars such as the Lexus and Cadillac, according to McDonald.

Although the Kia parent company is the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, the Kia is made by Kia Motors which is based in Seoul, South Korea. I learned that the American Kia manufacturing plant is in West Point, Ga.

The Kia Optima SXL mid-size four door sedan with front-wheel drive which I test drove had a 2.0 liter four-cylinder gasoline direct injection (GDI) turbocharged engine with an automatic six-speed transmission and 274 horsepower. It features an M (manual) mode, a clutch-free manual shifting alternative named the Sportmatic® transmission for an even sportier feel. The Optima SXL has the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifter for fingertip control of the Sportmatic transmission. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates 24 city/35 highway miles per gallon for the 2.4L engine, and 22 miles per gallon in city driving and 34 highway for the 2.0L engine.

The Kia Optima has four trims—the LX; the EX (a hybrid); the SXL; and the SXL Hybrid.

The SX trim which I test drove was equipped with Bluetooth® and had both heated and cooled seats, including the rear seats, all of which were leather. Its eight-way power seats made it easy to achieve a comfortable driver seat position. A panoramic Vista roof had the potential of bringing in the blue or gray sky overhead and the outdoor air freshness on a warm fall day.

Its Infinity system audio controls are mounted on the steering wheel providing connection with the satellite radio, Sirius, with a three-month free subscription.

The Kia Optima brochure describes the infotainment system available: “An available infotainment system is the UVO, ‘your voice’ system that uses advanced voice-recognition technology to simplify the use of your cell phone and MP3 player. UVO allows you to use your compatible cell phone

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