Skip to Content

Review: Kia Optima EX

kia5When we had the Kia Rio to test drive, Pete’s sister’s husband said, “Too bad you don’t have the Optima. That’s what we’re looking at.”

Funny coincidence.

See, we had the Kia Rio to drive from North Carolina to New York, where we spent a bit of time. We then drove to Virginia and exchanged the Rio for a 2013 Optima EX.

I really loved the Rio, so much that I am thinking about purchasing one now that my car is on borrowed time. I wasn’t really sure what I would think about the Optima but I definitely needed to give it a fair shot.

We got in the car and the first thing we noticed was it didn’t have a GPS built in. It’s optional and was opted against in the car we drove. Thanks goodness for cell phones because I was able to use the GPS on my phone to get us back to North Carolina.


I was worried that my phone was going to die during the six or so hour car ride, especially if the GPS was running the whole time.

That’s when I noticed this really cool feature Kia has. If you look by the front console, there is a spot for an iPhone car charger. You just plug it in, and the other end plugs right into your iPhone 4S (or lower) phone. It’s so convenient. Now, I know, sure you could get a car charger and a cable, but it was so nice to just have this cable to leave in the car.

I did have my phone plugged in the entire time, just in case, and I felt so much better about having to drive the distance.


While we’re on the topic of cool features we noticed, it wasn’t until the Optima that we figured out that there is a key inside of the actual key. I don’t know how many people actually know this. Most people see these keys, use the buttons at all times, and that’s it. You then stick the whole contraption into the ignition and start the car.

For people like me who have a car from the 90’s, this can get confusing. What if the battery dies? What if I just want to go back in time and use a key? There’s actually a button on the side that you push and a regular key slides out. That way, just in case your battery dies, you’re not stranded. You can still get into the car.

It’s the little things.


The Optima didn’t have many little things. In fact, it had a lot of big things. Like the door. Looking at it, I’m not sure you can really tell from the photo, but the car had a long wingspan.


And the back of the car was really long as well.

For me, it was too big. I felt like I was driving a boat around town. I was nervous driving it, parking it, pulling it out of spaces. Even after two weeks with the car, I couldn’t get used to the length of it.

Pete got acclimated a lot faster than me. He did think it was big, but it wasn’t too big for him. Maybe I was just so used to driving the Rio, which is considerably smaller and closer to the size and feel of my car.

Overall, the car drove great though. It really ran well and was easy to handle. In the beginning, I was a bit “jerky” with it, forgetting how sensitive the brakes on a new car were, and stepping on them early because I felt the need to compensate for the size. But once I got used to it, it drove really well, especially on the highway.

I think the Optima is a really good family car because of how roomy it is. You can fit everyone’s backpacks, soccer balls, coolers, lunch, laundry, what have you in the trunk and not have to worry about cramming anything under the seats. You also have plenty of legroom if you’re taller (which I’m not).

The car itself is really comfortable, which definitely had to do with it being so open and roomy. Personally, for me, it was too much room and, if I had to choose between the two, I would pick the Rio. But, Pete and I have no children and all I really carry around is my purse, so we don’t need the extra room. If you do, the Optima is for you.

This car was loaned to Drugstore Divas for this review. All options are our own.