Make us your home page
The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: 2013 Kia Optima SXL delivers on style

When Kia introduced the redesigned Optima as a 2011 model, its dramatic styling immediately set it apart in the uber-competitive midsize sedan category. Now, for 2013, Kia rolls out the new top-of-the-line Limited trim. After driving the SXL, we're not hesitant to say: This is one of the most stylish sedans on the road ­— at any price.

Appearance: The core design remains unchanged, but the Limited trim — that's the "L" in SXL — brings the bling. You get lots of chrome — bordering the black-gloss mesh grille, in trim pieces such as the rear-tip spoiler, in the dual chrome-tipped exhausts and in the 18-inch wheels. Add in LED daylight running lights, saucy red brake calibers and shimmering Snow White Pearl paint (one of only three SXL colors, along with Ebony Black and Titanium Silver) and it's quite the visual statement.

Performance: The 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder GDI with turbo pumps out 274 horsepower without a hint of turbo lag or torque steer in the front-wheel-drive Optima. It's enough to make you check under the hood to make sure it's not a bigger V-6 engine. The sport-tuned suspension and other SXL chassis tweaks produce a refined ride and taut handling. The 6-speed Sportmatic transmission shifts smoothly and also has paddle shifters.

Interior: It doesn't suffer from Bland Sedan Syndrome. In appearance, it seems lifted from a more expensive car, with an angled console and lots of leather and wood accents. The fit and finish are good, with soft-touch materials and, where there's plastic, still a quality surface. Our SXL came with comfortable white Nappa leather seats that are heated and cooled for the front and heated for the rear. There's also white leather in the door panels and center console. Is this really a Kia? The dual-pane panoramic sunroof, along with all that white leather, brightened the cabin. We liked the leather-wrapped steering wheel with wood accent at the top; a luxury touch, but some may find it too slick. The head- and legroom are generally good, although taller passengers will feel cramped in the rear seat because of the sloping roofline, which is part of the price you pay for styling and aerodynamics. Our tester came with the upgraded navigation with Sirius Traffic — which replaces the standard UVO infotainment system — and with it a rearview camera. The SXL also has a Smart Key remote with push-button start; keep your keys in your pocket or purse.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Paint: White used to be boring. No longer. Kia's pearl finish is one of the nicer whites.

Styling: A friend likened it to a Jaguar. It just looks expensive.

Cabin: Stylish inside, too, with details like a cooling glove box.

Lyra Solochek

Lights: LED running lights with bright HID auto-leveling headlights.

View: The rear panel of the sunroof tilts up.

Head-turner: One of the sharpest looking cars on the road.

The bottom line: In the SXL trim, the loaded-with-options Kia Optima is luxury within reach. How many family sedans are head-turners? We think even parking valets will be impressed.

2013 Kia Optima SXL

Price: $21,200 base start, $35,275 SXL as tested


2.0-liter GDI

4-cylinder with turbo, 6-speed Sportmatic transmission with paddles, FWD

Horsepower: 274 at 6,000 rpm

Torque: 269 pound-feet at 1,750-4,500 rpm

Curb weight: 3,385 pounds


in inches:

Wheelbase, 110.04

Length, 190.7

Height, 57.28

Width, 72.05

Seats: 5

Fuel economy:

22 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway

Safety features: Dual front advance airbags, full-length curtains, side airbags, ABS, traction control, electronic stability control, vehicle stability management, hill-assist control, rear-view camera, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, crumple zones


The Daily Drivers: 2013 Kia Optima SXL delivers on style 09/21/12 [Last modified: Friday, September 21, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus


    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park


    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers


    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]