Kia Optima (2012 – 2016) Review

Kia Optima (2012 – 2016) At A Glance


+Priced from less than £20k and a cheap company car. Seven-year warranty as standard. Generous standard equipment.

-Only one engine. Automatic transmission pushes up emissions and BIK. Pre-2014 navigation does not accept seven digit UK postcodes.

Insurance Groups are between 17–20
On average it achieves 85% of the official MPG figure

The Kia Optima is a spacious and well equipped saloon that has plenty of appeal for families and company car drivers, thanks to its low BIK rate and sub-£20k price. However, while the stylish and comfortable Optima impresses on metal for the money, it falls short on refinement and driving pleasure. 

Just one engine is available – a 1.7-litre CRDi diesel with a manual transmission or an automatic in higher trims. With 134PS and 325Nm it is capable enough whether covering distance on the motorway or tackling a country road, but it can’t match the latest from Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia for emissions and economy. The diesel is also vocal, which means long trips can be a noisy experience. 

Even so, the manual variant has official economy of 57.6mpg and emissions of 128g/km, so it’s not all bad. Indeed, for company car drivers, it has a 23 per cent BIK rate, although the automatic 'box increases fuel consumption to 47.1mpg and raises emissions to 158g/km. As a result the BIK rate increases to 29 per cent.

The Optima is a huge car though, offering enough leg and headroom for two adults in the back. There's also a decent sized boot – though it is awkwardly shaped for larger items. Up front the cabin is attractive and well made, with a user-friendly layout and plenty of useful technology including, on top models, safety tech like blind spot warning and cross traffic assist.

The trim structure is simple, with ‘1’, ‘2’, and ‘3’ grades. The basic ‘1’ model is anything but, getting 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lights, air conditioning, cruise control and a speed limiter as standard. The ‘2’ trim offers superb value for money, with leather upholstery, navigation and electrically adjustable seats among the standard equipment.

It’s really the equipment that gives the Optima its appeal. Admittedly, It isn’t as good to drive or as economical as its big-selling rivals, but the generous levels of equipment, competitive pricing, a well-made cabin and a useful seven-year transferrable warranty make the Optima a contender, rather than an also-ran.

Kia Optima 2011 First Drive


Real MPG average for a Kia Optima (2012 – 2016)


Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

32–55 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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Ask Honest John

Kia Optima - is it any good?

"I owned a BMW 325i for 12 years and I loved it. I'm now looking to buy a new car, and I recently test drove a Kia Optima. I loved it too and all the extras that would cost a fortune to have in other cars. I know your review is a positive one, and I ask therefore is this a good car for me? I'm looking for a good looking car, with a great range of extras, that is comfortable, rides well, and is fast when needed. Should I buy the Kia?" It's been improved since then, but still important to go for Tech spec with 17-inch alloy wheels with 215/55 R17 tyres rather than the harder riding 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/45 R18 tyres.
Answered by Honest John

Is it OK to negotiate over the phone?

"I am interested in buying a used Kia Optima. I have a specific budget, so is it reasonable to ask the dealer on the telephone if there is any movement on the price? (If I have seen something similar, or depreciation value, etc) or is it better to just go to the showroom and try and knock price down there? There is nothing available locally, so I didn't want to waste the dealers time, or my own."
Yes. No point in wasting his time and yours.
Answered by Honest John

What can I replace my Honda Accord with that offers more space for passengers in the back?

"I own a Honda Accord 2.2i-DTEC 150 automatic, first registered in March 2012. To date it has covered 12,250 miles with an average consumption of 44.4 mpg according to my accurate calculations, though the trip computer only shows 41 mpg. I try to limit short journeys and do have regular long runs of over 20 miles non-stop. I live in a flat, in a retirement development, so frequently convey other residents who have had to relinquish their cars to the supermarket and out for lunch. I am very happy with the car and its specification is first class. My only problem is that when I want to accommodate three people on the back seat it is not easy and very crowded. If I were to change the car, what would you recommend with a similar specification but with greater space for back seat passengers?"
There's more legroom in the backs of a KIA Optima, Ford Mondeo or Skoda Superb. But no Optima diesel automatic. You could consider a Honda CR-V 2.2iDTEC auto (same engine and transmission, more room inside and more upright). Or a Ford S-Max 2.0TDCI Powershift, that has three separate sliding seats across the back (plus two more jump seats under the luggage deck). But switching out of the 2012 Accord into one of these will be very expensive.
Answered by Honest John

What cars match the E-Class but for less cash?

"What other car matches the Mercedes-Benz E-class in terms of quality and reliability for less money?"
Check out a Mazda 6 Skyactiv, KIA Optima, Hyundai i40, Skoda Superb.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Kia Optima (2012 – 2016) cost?