2012 Kia Optima EX I’m Sexy And I Know It.>

Did you say family sedan? When I meet a car, it speaks to me. (Yes, I talk to cars.) And when I meet up with a family sedan, it usually says, “Look at me. I’m so practical.” [*insert yawn here.] Being a muscle car loving SUV driver, it’s hard to listen to that kind of talk. Most men are known for having selective hearing. I have that same “skill” when it comes to anything short of a growling V8.  My mind was already made up when I was to meet the 2012 Kia Optima EX. Or so I thought.

Hold the phone. This 2.4 liter 4-cylinder Optima EX wasn’t speaking to me in practical terms. “I’m cool. I have style,“ it said to me. I rested my hand on the hood. “Okay, let’s see what you’ve got.” I thought.

The first thing I want to know about any car, even a family sedan, is horsepower. And? Not bad. 200 horsepower at 6300 rpm means you can zip to the mall, the post office and pick up your dry cleaning, all in a jiffy. In case you were wondering, torque is 186 ft-lbs. at 4250 rpm. For even more power, the Optima is available in a turbo-charged SX model. With the turbo model you’ll be able to keep up with most V6’s in its class. If there’s an option for more power, I say go for it.

With sleek lines and a sweet profile, the Optima’s gentle curves lend to its sexy figure. Thank you, Peter Schreyer. His artistry that makes everything he touches turn to super-fabulous is what makes this Kia a standout in its class. The seamless design of the chrome grill had a knowing smile. If you listen closely, you can hear, “Yeah, I’m sexy and I know it.”

The interior is very sporty. I love the three chrome-trimmed circles on the dash. The speedometer is in the center, tachometer to the left and fuel on the right.  Speaking of fuel, the Optima’s 18.5 gallon tank will take you up to 24 mpg/city and 35 mpg on the highway. For more fuel efficiency, a Hybrid is available.

With 14.5 cubic feet of space in the trunk, you can load it up with plenty of groceries or beach gear. The 60/40 split rear seats fold down for more cargo space.

Standard safety features include six airbags (dual front-side mounted), all-disc antilock brakes, active front head restraints and an electronic stability system.  The rear center 3-point belt is great for your third little passenger. I say “little” because there is no headrest in the middle.

Tech features include an optional UVO system, which stands for “your voice” and is comparable to Ford’s Microsoft Sync. The voice-activated features allow you to call up your playlists from your connected MP3 player. There’s also an option for a navigation system. Unfortunately it’s either/or.  Kia plans to integrate both into future models. USB/MP3 auxiliary port and Bluetooth connectivity is standard.

Because of those sexy lines that slope down the rear, you lose some headroom in the back. The Optima is great for toting two or three kids in the back. But for an evening of “parents-gone-wild” with your super tall friends? That may be an issue.

Overall, this car has got it going on – Style, performance, fuel economy and a decent price tag of $19,500 MSRP. The versatile Kia Optima can tackle the family needs by day and make for a sweet ride at night for a date with the hubby.

Test Driven by Christina Selter