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2012 Kia Optima SX
  • on December 26, 2011 -
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2012 Kia Optima SX

With my Acura TL Type-S approaching five years old, it was time for my approximately quinquennial search for a new car. This time around, I seem to have surprised everyone I know by choosing a Kia Optima, driving it home in late October.

My decision basically boils down to value, and the Optima—just like its sister car, the Hyundai Sonata—offers a ton of it. Several friends have commented on my “downgrade”, but in almost every way that matters, this car is superior to my outgoing Acura TL, and it cost me $7,500 less than the TL cost me five years ago. Since cars lose value fast, I’m happy to give up the “prestige” nametags to gain extra features and save money. I came to a similar conclusion five years ago when choosing the Acura TL over another Audi A4, gaining a lot of extra features and saving thousands of dollars.

Some of the features that drew me in to the Optima were:

  • Heated front and rear seats, cooled and ventilated front seats
  • 274 HP engine that gets 20–25% better fuel economy than the Acura
  • Much better turning radius makes the car a lot easier to maneuver
  • Bluetooth audio streaming to listen to my iPhone music while it’s in my pocket
  • Keyless ignition so my key never needs to leave my pocket
  • Power seats with memory, dual moonroof, 18-inch wheels, navigation, rear camera, steering wheel paddle shifters, and lots of other convenience gadgets (including an air conditioned glove box—for my Coke?)
  • Five-star overall safety performance rating
  • Five-year/60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and ten-year/100,000 mile drivetrain warranty
  • Looks great!
  • Consistently excellent reviews by all the auto magazines and web sites
  • Transmission shifts much more smoothly than the TL’s

As usual, shortly after the purchase, I took the car to LA Tint in Sterling, VA for some 50/38 ceramic tint.

My only complaint with the car is that on some types of pavement, the road noise can be pretty loud. The Acura TL had a very quiet interior. If it continues to bother me, I’ll look into adding some sound insulating Dynamat in the wheel wells and a few other spots.


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