Dads, Roller Coasters and a KIA Optima. If you’re wondering what those things could possibly have in common, please, read on. Disclosure: I was provided a vehicle for evaluation purposes. I was asked to share my experience with my readers. Opinions are my own.
My wife is a hard-working professional and fantastic partner and mother. She also recognizes the tough job of being a stay-at-home dad and often suggests I get out for some “me-time” now and again. Who’s going to argue with that? So I did what any Michigandad should do in that situation .I called up my buddies (fellow dad bloggers) for a weekend retreat to Cedar Point Halloweekends!
The inevitable, “who’s gonna drive” question answered itself when another unique and exciting opportunity came to fruition. Our family received a handsome (my words) and beautiful (my wife’s words) dark cherry 2013 KIA Optima EX for evaluation during the week of my retreat. To summarize the experience, the American-made KIA Optima delivered exceptionally on 4 dad-centric categories: fuel economy, safety, style/comfort and gadgets. Read on for a breakdown.
Fuel Economy. If ever those words were more important in the frugal world of a single-income family, it is in today’s economy. To a large degree, auto manufacturers have placed this concern as a top priority in their arsenal of vehicles. The mid-size (sedan) Optima by KIA offers wonderful performance and torque, even in their non-hybrid (they do offer a hybrid option) base 2.4L 4-cylinder engine with automatic transmission. At 28 MPG (24 city, 35 highway), the Optima saves buyers $2100 in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the average new vehicle. In my personal tests, we averaged 30-32 MPG from Detroit to Sandusky and just under 25 MPG cruising throughout the city. I also had the air conditioning blasting due to an unseasonably warm week; this tends to put additional load under the hood. To put things into perspective, a single tank of gasoline sufficed from Detroit metro to Cedar Point (and back). I would have loved to try my hand at a hybrid Optima to compare the results, but maybe next time!
- 2.4L 4-cylinder engine has plenty of torque
- 28 MPG average, equates to 24 MPG City and 35 MPG highway
- $1900 in projected annual fuel costs
- $2100 in fuel savings over 5 years compared to the average new vehicle
- above average fuel economy equals fewer refueling stops
Safety. I can’t speak about a personal experience, I do my best to avoid accidents, but the KIA earned an overall 5-star rating in governmental safety crash tests. Side impact airbags and side curtain airbags are both standard, as is traction control and 4-wheel antilock disc brakes. The KIA also recognized when I was within proximity of the vehicle, through the ultra-swank key fob. When a KIA driver approaches with their key, the interior lighting illuminates the cabin, which could help in deterring would-be bad guys. In our week-long tour of the vehicle, my wife and I both discovered that the seat belts were difficult to latch when reaching over our oldest child in his booster seat. The buckles too-easily slip down between the seats if not held with a second hand, this is a difficult and somewhat uncomfortable task for parents on-the-go. On the flip side, KIA has focused on the details and included LATCH indicators on the seat back, eliminating the need to feel between the cushions for the safety system.
- 5-star overall crash test ratings from government agencies
- Side impact airbags, side curtain bags, traction control and 4-wheel antilock disc breaks standard
- Smart key fob allows cabin illumination
- LATCH indicators on seat backs to eliminate needless searching
- Buckling seat belts over booster seats is difficult
Style and comfort. I expected KIA’s Optima brand to include plenty of features for the dollar, what I wasn’t prepared for was the aggressive and elegant body styling and handsome color scheme. A low stance, 17″ alloy wheels, chromed accents including dual exhaust tips and the dark cherry paint scheme had my buddies (and a few neighbors) asking, “who makes that” and then the follow-up, “KIA?” The elegant styling of the interior equally impresses as it becomes obvious KIA did their homework to include a plethora of standard options without inflating the vehicle cost. I especially enjoyed the beige leather accented dash components and steering wheel, and the dark wood accent panels throughout the cabin.
At 6’3″, I am a tall guy. Comfort, as it relates to how I feel simply sitting in a vehicle, is paramount. Rarely do I sit in the back seat, and in the Optima, I would still be avoiding that endeavor. However, I’m usually the driver 99% of the time in this family and the Optima provided (personally) some of the best leg and head room I have experienced in a mid-size sedan. The 2.5-hour cruise to Cedar Point felt like a short trip to the corner store, no back pain or headache, that is, until I rode the Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster later that afternoon.
- Agressive and elegant design cues throughout the vehicle
- Abundant standard features without killing the pocketbook
- Standard rear legroom
- Excellent head and leg room up front for larger drivers
Gadgets. While my EX trim Optima did not include the highly-touted UVO powered Microsoft Infotainment System, the standard AM/FM/CD/MP3/SiriusXM with 6-speakers, bluetooth hands-free and iPod connectivity was nothing to scoff at. The system automatically recognized my connected devices and included the relevant artist and song information on the head unit. Pairing the bluetooth enabled devices was also a breeze. These two features alone eliminated my need to carelessly fiddle with my phone during driving activities, just plug it in and go. As mentioned before, the smart key fob knows when you are in vicinity of the vehicle. There is no need to un-pocket/purse-search the keys with the KIA Optima. The convenient door-handle mounted locking/un-locking feature and push-button start of the engine are ultra-cool and intuitive features.
- Standard premium sound includes 6-speakers, CD and Sirius/XM receiver
- Bluetooth handsfree and iPod/iPhone connectivity built-in
- Smart key-fob available on EX trims offers intuitive interactions with the vehicle
I could go on describing my week-long enjoyment and guy’s retreat with the 2013 KIA Optima. The automobile is assembled and manufactured in West Point, Georgia. The car felt quality-made and did not sacrifice options for price. My test vehicle had a sticker price of $24,524.00, which felt like a steal considering the included trim. The UVO/Navigation system would have been fantastic, but the stock head unit provided enough options to keep a tech dad connected. I would suggest taking a look for yourself to appreciate just how handsome and functional this family sedan really is.
Check out what’s happening around #KIAOptima on Twitter.
As for the Cedar Point Retreat? Well, you can never go wrong at Cedar Point. The weekend weather was absolutely perfect. All rides were open and lines moved quickly. Gatekeeper was fantastic, but Millenium Force and Top Thrill Dragster still take the cake. The haunts were pretty well done, but it takes a whole more to shock me! Ha! Take a look below for photos of guy’s retreat at Cedar Point for Halloweekends. Have you been? What’s your favorite haunt and ride?