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Test Drive – Kia Optima SXL

By TheTechDad

For many years, Kia was the invisible brand of the automobile industry. You knew the cars were out there, but you couldn’t really describe one even if you tried. It was almost as if they went out of their way to come up with the nondescript car of the year. However, that all changed about 6 or 7 years ago, when new ownership and some key new hires put the emphasis firmly on design.

How much have things changed? So much so that a recent spell driving a Kia Optima SX Limited was notable for the number of people who came up to me to ask about the car and admire its clean, sporty looks.

The SXL is the flagship model of the Optima range, featuring 18” chrome wheels, red brake calipers, LED daytime running lights, and a few more flashes of chrome on the sides, rear spoiler, and wing mirrors. The all-leather interior is positively luxurious for a car this size and the power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats are unexpected extras.

But perhaps the real surprise is under the hood. The SXL features a turbocharged 2.0L engine capable of producing 274 horsepower, and the 6-speed electronic transmission means that power is there whenever you need it. The ground-hugging look of the SXL translates into great road-handling and you always feel totally in control in any conditions.

Fuel economy is a respectable 22 mpg for city driving, climbing to 34 mpg for highways. One tank of gas can take you 600 miles or more, which makes the SXL a perfect choice for those weekend getaways. The SXL also comes with an easy-to-use voice-command navigation system and a rear-view camera for those tight parking spaces. You also get a three-month trial subscription to Sirius, including SiriusXM real-time traffic updates.

While the Kia Optima SX Limited edition comes with many extras, it also comes with a price tag of $34,500. However, if you are operating on a tighter budget, don’t be put off. The same styling, road-handling and much of the same power are also available on the lower-priced Optimas, which start with the Optima LX for as little as $21,200.

While Kias may never be talked about in the hushed tones reserved for other, more revered brands, they have deservedly fought their way to respectability. If you are in the market for a mid-sized sedan with a little extra power and style, take a look at the Kia Optima – you will be pleasantly surprised!

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