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Test Drive: Rockin’ the Road – Across Florida in the 2016 Kia Optima SX Turbo

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Brand unity is something that the folks at Kia Motors USA have really nailed over the past few years. Whether you’re driving an entry-level model, or a fully-loaded luxury vehicle, the experience is distinctly Kia, and there’s a comfort level in that feeling that’s hard to surpass – no matter if you’re in a car, crossover or minivan. When I last found myself behind the wheel of their best-selling nameplate, the Kia Optima, it was the 2014 Hybrid model. While we enjoyed that car, the 2016 Optima has been redesigned, and I recently had the opportunity to do a little roadtripping in Florida at the helm of the SX Turbo Edition – the perfect family ride for rockin’ the road.

2016 Kia Optima Review
That’s a giant slate back there. 

When the crew from DriveShop Miami delivered the brilliantly-colored Remington Red Optima to us at the Walt Disney World All-Star Movies Resort, that feeling of comfort that I mentioned was immediate. We’d flown down with our car seats from Illinois so The Rock Daughters™ would feel right at home, but the feeling was mutual for my wife and I – even though I was piloting a vehicle that I’d never driven before, all while navigating unfamiliar roads in central Florida. Familiar, yet completely new. 

The Rock Daughters at Walt Disney World's All-Star Movies Resort
While I was getting the car squared-away, The Rock Daughters were about to go swimming.

Aside from comfort, the styling was also immediately striking – a Disney employee walking over to sneak a peek as well after my initial walkthrough. While the bulk of my daily driving at home is running errands and doing drop-offs and pick-ups at school and activities, I want a stylish ride – and the Optima delivers on that note.

2016 Kia Optima
A good-looking vehicle, ripe for adventure.

Our days at Disney World were fun (stories for another time), but the real reason for our Florida adventure was my brother-in-law’s wedding over in St. Pete. With our daughters set to be Flower Girls, a road trip that I wish was longer found us clipping across the state after a late morning stop at Disney Springs for some shopping and lunch.

2016 Kia Optima Review
A nice-size trunk, and a smooth ride…

With the optional Panoramic Sunroof (a feature I loved on the Sorento) opened wide, we were off and rolling, music from the Harmon/Kardon QLS Premium Sound System providing the soundtrack. The 2.0L Turbo engine felt bigger than a 4-cylinder, with the 6-speed automatic transmission quietly and effortlessly running underneath. A little off-route sightseeing was also in order, aided by Kia’s outstanding UVO Infotainment and Connectivity Platform – the benchmark for my wife when it comes to navigation and entertainment. Out of all the vehicles we drive, she finds the ease-of-use and overall display of the UVO system to be top-notch, and I can’t disagree.

2016 Kia Optima Review
The 2016 Kia Optima – looking beautiful.

Our stay in St. Pete was short, but having the Optima on-hand was a great thing come Friday night. The travel of the week had taken its toll on the family, and that was none-more-apparent than with our oldest, who came down with a fever and a case of “swimmer’s ear,” prompting me to leave the reception with her early. By 3:30am, I was cruising St. Pete Beach on a supply run, needing some medicine for the little one, who was having a real tough go of things. But the following morning, we took a family walk and it all ended well…



As a kid I played with Hot Wheels (still do), and as an adult I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a lot of time playing with a host of full-sized rides, and while we haven’t pulled the trigger just yet, when it comes time for our next vehicle purchase, the possibility of officially becoming a #KiaDad is pretty high up on the list. 

2016 Kia Optima: Base Price starting at $21,900. As-driven, $33,215. Build and Price at Kia.com

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