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Kia Optima 2006.5-2008



  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    Until 2006.5 Optima owners begin posting their cars' fuel useage results, you may need to refer to 2006 4-cyl Sonata owners' results. They seem to be getting in the low-mid 30 mpg range for highway driving - generally higher as they run-in from new. The two cars use essentially the same 4-cyl engine with CVVT, with the Optima using a 5-sp automatic transmission rather than the Sonata's legacy 4-sp automatic transmission - point, Optima on that one. When equipped with manual transmissions, both models get a 5-sp box.
  • capt4capt4 Posts: 32
    Seriously good value
    By Kelly Toepke Email | Blog
    Date posted: 08-10-2006

    "Kia Optima's been Optimized," "Optimal Performance from the Kia Optima," "Optimum New Optima."

    Since the second-generation Kia Optima went on sale in March 2006, automotive journalists have used a variety of hokey, "optimistic" headlines to announce the midsize sedan's substantial improvements.

    Although Kia is undoubtedly enjoying the complimentary reviews, the serious-minded Korean car company is anything but lighthearted about the Optima's mid-model-year makeover. This is the 2006.5 Kia Optima, it's an all-new car and it's looking to take on the heart of the midsize sedan market, which includes the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata and of course the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

    Not an easy task for sure, but after spending some time behind the wheel of the new Optima, we're feeling pretty Optima-istic about Kia's chances.

    Cheap price, quality package
    Kia entered the U.S. car market in the early '90s, and has since earned a reputation for selling cheap cars. That hasn't changed, what with an entry-level four-cylinder Optima currently priced under $17,000, and the top-of-the-line 2006.5 Optima EX V6 starting at just $20,400 before options.

    Today's Optima may still be low priced, but Kia's quality has moved way above cheap. The Optima has been seriously upgraded, and improvements in materials and build quality are as readily apparent as the number of features now offered, many of them standard. Our Optima EX V6 test car had a five-speed automatic transmission, heated leather seats, six airbags and a six-speaker Infinity sound system. Not too shabby for less than $24,000.

    Comfortable, spacious cabin
    A new, longer 107.1-inch wheelbase puts the Optima on par with the rest of the competition, and with 104.2 cubic feet of interior volume, the Kia offers one of the most spacious cabins in the segment. Front seat passengers will be especially grateful for the class-leading 43.7 inches of legroom, while rear-seat riders will find 37.8 inches, slightly less than the Malibu's space. Although the legroom is good, the seat bottoms are a little short, offering less support for long-limbed occupants. The rear bench splits 60/40 to reveal a total of 14.8 cubic feet of trunk volume, a 10-percent increase over the old Optima.

    No telescoping steering wheel is available but a full set of adjustments for the standard eight-way power driver seat takes care of most complaints from the cockpit. Front passengers get a four-way power seat when it's combined with leather. Both seats are well-shaped and supportive, with well-padded bottom cushions.

    Interior materials as a whole give off an impression of quality, with some really nice textures, smooth leather and better plastics than in Kias of old. New blue gauge lighting is a knock-off of the Accord's and that's no bad thing either. Combine those upgrades with alloy wheels, foglights, dual exhaust pipes, automatic climate control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and you've got a good-looking car, both inside and out.

    Short on high-end power
    The Optima's 2.7-liter V6 engine has been tweaked to make 185 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 182 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. Although that's a 15-hp bump from the previous V6 rating, the engine is still smaller and less powerful than every other V6 in its class, so the front-wheel-drive Optima is no hot rod.

    Zero-to-60 runs take a leisurely 9.2 seconds. The quarter-mile performance of 16.5 seconds at 84.8 mph is also slow compared to its V6 competition. We've run a 16.2 in a Malibu and a 15.7 in an Accord.

    Between city stop lights, the 3287-pound Optima feels adequately spunky, but the low-end punch is just a teaser. Passing power at higher speeds is noticeably absent. The V6 makes most of its grunt between 4000 and 6000 rpm, but the Optima's five-speed automatic transmission isn't quick to deliver a downshift. Usually, full throttle or manipulation of the transmission's manual gate is needed to slip through that hole in the traffic.

    The new five-speed also has an unusually tall top gear, which doesn't do much for performance, but helps the Optima get 30 mpg on the highway according to the Environmental Protection Agency. We averaged 20.7 mpg during our week of mixed driving.

    Quick spin of the wheel
    Around town, the Optima feels a bit like a sport sedan thanks to its quick power-assisted rack and pinion steering, tight suspension and unexpectedly generous helping of road feel. An independent MacPherson strut front suspension and multilink rear suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bars help it feel lighter and less encumbered than the Sonata, but the trade-off is that it has a less substantial, less luxury car-like feel.

    However, if you start getting serious with the Optima on twisty roads, despite its optional 17-inch alloys with Michelin Pilot rubber, much of that quasi sport sedan feel goes away. It's still kind of entertaining, but there's considerable body roll to contend with and more than a little understeer.

    At the track our timed slalom runs confirmed our seat-of-the-pants finding. The good news is that the Optima's handling is benign. Even with the car's electronic stability control (ESC) turned off, the Kia never does anything spooky no matter how hard you push it. Still, its 62.6-mph slalom speed and 0.77g on the skid pad are average for a car in this class.

    Four-wheel disc brakes are standard on the Optima, but adding the ESC package for $600 is the only way to get ABS and a traction-control system. Even with this package, brake feel is unimpressive and not very progressive, and the pedal travel is too long. Our best 60-0-mph stopping distance was 131.89 feet. That's substantially longer than the 2006 Ford Fusion's 124 feet, but better than the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu's 140.2 feet.

    Subjective best-in-class
    With a small V6 engine, average performance numbers and no standout driving dynamics, it's not easy to quantify what makes the new Optima so good. It's better than the old one, but that's not reason enough to buy it. Maybe it's because Kia has injected some life into this midsize sedan through comfort and build quality, making it a worthwhile place to spend time without spending a lot of money. Others may feel more refined overall than the Optima, but the Kia wins for personality.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Manson, WAPosts: 6,920
    personality, it has a quiet interior during suburban commutes and weekend trips to the golf course.

    If you stop and listen real hard you can hear Art Bell discussing chupacabre's and extra-terrestrials from many different galaxies as well as rock to your favorite Guess Who or Drive-By Trucker CD at large volume.

    I'd go for the 4-cylinder model and 5-speeds. Don't tell it's not offered, either, I'll get nasty thoughts of being stuck in an elevator with Barbara Walters for 2 hours. Ouch!

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • chuck1959chuck1959 Posts: 654
    Today's Kia's quality has moved way above cheap.

    You are so right about that! I have an '02 and a '04 Kia Rio Cinco. I was very surprised about not only the quality difference, but that standard features between the 2 and at not that much difference in price! My '02 was passed on to my mom and currently has 35,000 TROUBLE free miles and mine just turned 11,000 TROUBLE free miles also. Whoops the gas tank sensor was replaced under warrenty!
  • 4 cylinder with the auto. it listed for 18,500, and i got it out the door for 16,000 even, including tax and tags. is this a fair deal?

    i'm nervous about the mileage . . . i've seen some critical magazine reviews. what are you folks getting?

    this car would benefit from: standard ABS; softer feeling steering wheel; tinted windows on base; external temp gauge.

    i love the autostick, heated mirrors (it will be parked outside) and smooth ride/handling/quiet, though.

    real world mileage?
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    Welcome to the Forums. I see you found the 2006.5 discussion, which is a better place for your question. We discourage cross-posting, but if you need tips on where to ask questions, let us know!


    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    Though you don't have to jump through any formal hoops initially, your engine and drive train are still tight and running-in - and that's all that's reflected in your early (disappointing?) fuel consumption results. Track your fuel consumption at this stage for fun, but don't expect it to hit its stride until ~5,000 miles - and even then, it'll still continue to improve slowly on out to ~15,000 miles or more. My '03 Sonata 2.7L V6 has now clocked ~22,000 miles and my fuel useage has finally leveled off at ~24+/30+ city/highway (70 mph). I guess I can safely assume the engine, transmission, differential, constant velocity drive joints and front wheel bearings are fully broken-in.

    (By way of contrast, my first tankful of gasoline returned a dismal 16/24 city/highway (55 mph) result. This was in spite of very gentle operation of a new machine. The only other car I've ever owned that was that disappointing was my '96 Accord. Apparently Honda and Hyundai both like to set their motors up with tight clearances, utilize computer numeric controlled micropolishing of sliding parts, and rely on initial run-in to establish a very precise final fit between those parts. My Hyundai used ~8 oz. of motor oil during its first 500 miles. Since then I haven't detected any visual loss of oil on the dipstick between oil changes.)
  • thanks ray . . . your advice is both reassuring and scary at the same time (LOL)
  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    My comments were intended to reassure. Please post back what your remaining anxieties are.
  • ecruzecruz Posts: 2
    I bought a new 2006.5 Optima. I like the looks, the warranty and the safety features, like curtain airbags, etc. I prefer them than traction control in my situation. The handling is very tight, better than her Infinity says my wife. Anyway, first tank I drove about 325 miles and filled up, I got 31.26 MPG, second tank I drove 425 and I got 30.16 MPG.
    Not bad for an engine that still does not have 1000 miles on it. I know it will get better as it gets broken in.
  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    It helps to identify the engine and transmission when discussing fuel economy.
  • ecruzecruz Posts: 2
    I did left the engine size out....Of course it was the 4 cylinder!
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    Automatic or stick?
  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    [snicker] Yes. ;)
  • Does anyone know when dealers will be getting the 2007 Optimas? Just a hint to Kia if they read this board: Put a $2k rebate on the 07 Optima EX at launch and you will have sold me a car!
  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    The "2006.5" Optima was essentially an early intro 2007 and will be a carry-over at least through the 2007 model year - likely through the 2008 model year, too. Automobile rebates are a marketing tool to move slow selling cars with the unintended consequence of coincidentally reducing later trade-in value.* If KIA division of corporate parent Hyundai gets the directive to offer rebates, it'll happen. Otherwise it won't.

    *The real losers in the rebate wars are the poor grunts who pay a non-rebated price and then discover their automobile choice eventually becomes the subject of rebates. They get it coming and going: upfront with the initial purchase and later at trade-in or sell time - without so much as a "Thank you, Ma'm."
  • Is there anybody who own or test drove new optima/magentis with manual trasmission? What is your impression of that tranny? How does the clutch and shifter work? What engine revs at 100 km/h. Will appreciate any feedback.
  • That's why I would be just as happy if Kia stopped offering rebates on all their models, if at all possible. Just sell them at a fair price to begin with. I would not be pleased if I bought an Optima with a small or non-existant rebate at the start of the model year and then learned a few months later that Optimas now had a $2K rebate on them!
  • chuck1959chuck1959 Posts: 654
    Kia already sells them at a fair price already! As far a rebates go, hey it's just the luck of the draw if the particular car your buying has a rebate. There should not be any hard feelings down the road if it all of sudden has one.
  • Just bought a 4 cylinder automatic LX. MSRP was about $18,500...with rebates, I drove it off the lot for $15,050 including taxes, title and tags :) Had a 1997 Mazda 626 and got an extra $1500 "competitive rebate" that Kia was touting on their website good through October 31.

    Awesome car and can't beat the standard equipment, safety, warranty and the price.

    I would strongly recommend as the 2006.5 and 2007 are the identical same car as someone stated above.
  • I just bought a new 2006.5 optima LX 5-speed for 11,495!!! The MSRP was 17,040, then I got the $1000 KIA rebate, then I got the $1500 competitive edge rebate, then I got an additional dealer discount of $3045!!!! I never would have considered kia, but I’ve been reading a lot about this new model and wanted to learn more. When I saw an ad in the paper for this "crazy" deal I was skeptical, but intrigued. I went to the dealer where they had three ad cars and I bought one! I drove it and had to get it! The build quality is great, and it drives 90% as nice as an Accord or Camry (I shopped them both, and I actually think the interior is nicer!!!!). Hope others can find the same deal.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,907
    Wow! A nicely-equipped (except ABS) mid-size for the price of a stripped subcompact. Well done!
  • Is it 5 spd. manual or auto?
  • it's the manual 5 speed.
  • I have the 5 speed maual and I really like it! I've owned Nissan’s, Toyota’s, and Honda’s in the past (just recently ended a bad relationship with a Saab), and I think the optima shifts every bit a good as any of those. (The Nissan was the best) However, engaging the clutch did seem a little odd for the first 150 miles or so, but it’s perfect now... I think it was adjusting (or I was :) ). I now have 200 miles on the car, and I still can't believe how nice and solid it is.
  • Thanks imacheapsk8 for replying. I'd appreciate if you could comment on couple more things. Most of new cars today with manual transmission have electronic throttle control that makes engine rpm hang a little when clutch is depressed going from one gear to another. How is optima in this regards? Are engine revs going down at once when clutch is depressed or hanging? And another thing. What's engine rpm at highway speed, like 100-110 km/h. on 5th gear?
    What's you mpg?
  • No Problem... It does hang a little, but not as long as some other vehicles I’ve recently tested. As I recall when driving 70mph, the rpm is at ~3k. I'll make sure to get more accurate readings next time. I have about 200 miles on the car and I’m just above half a tank. I'm not sure how large the tank is, but if its a 15 gallon tank, that would give me about 28-29 mpg. In my experience, brand new cars have bad mpg for the first few fill-ups. I know I’ll definitely be get 30-32 mpg once the care is broken in.
  • Just purchased the 2006.5 EX V6 last weekend from my local dealer. In that time I have racked up 600 miles. It has been a pleasure to drive. The computer indicates my average MPG is 27. The car is just very well-built. Nothing squeaks, rattles or looks out of place. The fit and finish is first class. It doesn't feel like a 'cheap' car. It seems the toughest challenge Kia has is to change peoples' perception of this car. It is the real deal. I got mine for $20,197 out the door including tags, tax and title. I received a $1500 competitive bonus and a paltry $1000 for my very tired old car in trade. I don't know how they pack that much value into such a (relatively) low sticker price. I have to say that the automatic is absolutely silky-smooth but it does tend to become a bit confused if you have to suddenly hammer the accelerator in a tight spot. It seems to almost hiccup before it drops to a lower gear and gets to work. That is my only complaint. It cannot be perfect so I accept that transmission characteristic. I suppose I could also just drive it in the tiptronic mode and have more say in which gear is selected. The leather interior is very nice and feels much more expensive than it really is. Anybody here notice the reception on the Infinity system is a little weak in FM mode? When you use a CD, the sound is wonderful. In FM-mode, the sound isn't nearly as defined. This forum was responsible for me selecting the Optima. Never thought I'd be a Kia owner and willing to crow about it! Thanks!
  • ray_h1ray_h1 Posts: 1,134
    A time lag engaging a forced downshift isn't unusual in Hyundai ATs built since 1996 (the year Hyundai entered production with its own design instead of building Mitsubishi ATs under license). My 2003 Sonata 4-sp AT has the same characteristic. It's silky smooth and otherwise responsive, though. I think it's very gradually improved somewhat as it "learned" my driving style, too. (These boxes utilize "adaptive learning" algorithms in the TCM.)
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