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1983 RIV CONVERTIBLE, 2011 KIA OPTIMA SX, 2014 BUICK LACROSSE PREMIUM II
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As the half-dozen email and 4 phone calls from Kia have reminded me, I have now owned my Optima SX for 2 years. So, it is time for a status report.

Bottom Line First: I love this car. I haven’t seen anything else out there I would trade it for. And, I have looked.

Okay, details:

I bought my SX by ‘ordering’ it, although since it came from Korea you can’t really order it. My dealer just put in a request for the model and accessories I wanted and waited for one to come off the boat in Washington that he cold snatch. I specifically wanted Corsa Blue with Sport Wheels and all available options. He found the car with the wrong wheels a couple times and tried to get me to take those. He even tried to buy some sport wheels off of ebay to swap, but didn’t make it happen. Consequently I ordered the car on March 27 and took delivery on May 2, 2011.

I negotiated the price when I put down my deposit. The car stickered for $30,800 fully loaded. I got it for $27K, and they included all weather floor mats, trunk mat, trunk tray, bumper protector, cargo net and wheel locks. I tried for splash guards but didn’t get them but I am glad now because I have seen a couple cars with them on all 4 wheelwells and they are ugly. Plus I don’t notice a need for them.

I had been reading on this and other sites about a left pull issue, and also about the front ends of these cars being scraped as they unloaded them from the transport trucks. Inspection of my car revealed the dreaded paint scrapes and a test drive showed the infamous left pull was indeed present. The dealer had the body shop repair the scrapes (although you really couldn’t see them since they were underneath the front lip). And, the tires were underinflated. Properly inflating the tires fixed the pull issue. It has never returned in two years. But, the newly painted front edge only lasted to the first deep gutter I encountered. No matter how I try to negotiate a deep gutter by angling or going extremely slow, the front end scrapes the ground. I can only see the damage if I am nearly lying on the ground in front of the car, but it is still annoying. Other cars I own don’t hit the ground like this.

I also had been reading about how crappy the original Nexen’s are. I thought I would be replacing them before my first winter. But, I have gone through 2 winters now and the tires are actually quite good. The car is as stable as a tank in snow. Here in Utah we get a lot of snow. And, they seem to be getting quieter with age, which is unusual. I am actually very satisfied with these Nexen tires. I have 21K miles on the car and they look to be about half way through their tread.

I am still nervous about curb rash on my sport wheels. So far I have managed to avoid it. The finish on the wheels has held up very well. Still shines like new with no degradation of the finish. I really love these bottle-cap-pizza-cutter-manhole-cover-hot-wheels-johnny-lightning wheels. Especially in motion. I have never met anyone who didn’t love them, except on the internet. I read a lot of people think they are ugly, but I have never had anyone make anything but glowing comments to me in person. Some have even asked where I got the wheels because they wanted them. So, go figure.

I have run Mobil 1 full synthetic since my first oil change. I believe this has helped with my gas mileage. I am getting about 25 mpg with mixed/primarily city driving. When I take it on the highway I get truly stellar mileage. We have two types of freeway here, one with 75 mph limits and the other with 55 mph limits. When traveling at 75 mph I am getting a solid 36 mpg. I have traveled from Northern Utah to Las Vegas on ¾ tank of fuel, a trip of 500 miles. When traveling at 55 mph I am getting 38 mpg. I am using the cars trip computer on long trips for these figures, but when I fill up the gas used verifies these numbers. I never use ECO. I don’t know why. I just don’t.

I have rebadged my car with blue badges and added some additional chrome and carbon fiber bits. It is all a matter of personal taste. I really like the added chrome and carbon fiber. The badges were really fun when I first put them on because I would have people chase me down to find out what kind of car it is, and I usually made new friends at every gas stop. But, that has stopped now. People have figured it out I guess. The front blue badge has gotten some water spots on it that just don’t wash off anymore. It’s not turning white like some of you have shown the black badges are doing, but the front badge is definitely showing some wear. I may go back to the original KIA badge some day in the future. It doesn’t look bad, just looks like I didn’t dry it off after I washed it.

I do still get a lot of looks in this car. I can see people staring. At least I assume it is the car. Maybe I am just so damned handsome…

The seats in this car are still hard. Not so hard I would consider getting another car, but they will never be considered cushy. I have taken several road trips and the seats are fine, but firm. A little more coddling would be nice. I have sit in a 2012 and subsequent Optima and their seats are more comfortable, but I really like the style of the 2011 seats the best. The mesh detailing just looks better in the original 2011 seats. The heat and ventilation in these seats are the best I have ever had. I had an Infiniti M with heat and ventilation prior to this car, and the seats were weak and slow in comparison to the Kia. The only seats I had that heated as fast was an Oldsmobile Bravada, but it would heat so hot that it would serious fry your butt even on low. Kia really did it right. Oh, except the location of the buttons for the seat heat. Yes, they are blocked when the car is in drive. And, yes I can move my head a couple inches to see around it. But if I were designing it, I would have put the driver’s seat button someplace else.

This is one of very few cars that has enough leg room for me. I am 6’2” and it is almost all legs. I have to keep my seat in the full rear position, so I never get the benefit of the seat that powers back for ease of entrance/egress. I would like that. But, with that seat fully to the rear I can still sit comfortably in the seat behind my driver seat. No one ever complains when sitting behind me. That is almost unheard of for me. I prowl the new car lots for entertainment and have sat in/driven most new cars. I have found very few cars that have this kind of leg room. I tried to get comfortable in an Equus, but it doesn’t have the range of the Optima. The only leg room competitor I have found is a Buick LaCrosse (Shaq knows what he is talking about) and VW Jetta/Passat, and of course the Sonata. There have been a lot of cars over the years that I lusted over that just didn’t provide the leg room I require. This Optima is really comfortable for me, firm seats notwithstanding.

I wish the cubby in the console had a cover on it. I could leave my smart phone plugged in when I leave the car. As it is, I don’t dare leave it being exposed as it is. But, most of the time I have a USB plugged in and I do leave that. I found one designed for car audio that is virtually flush when plugged in and it works very well holding almost 4000 songs. My only complaint is that RANDOM isn’t very random. The car has a few songs at the beginning of the play list that it wants to play over and over and over and over. It appears you can get around this by not storing your music on the USB in folders. If it is all one root folder, you can get true random, but then you sacrifice the display showing the artist along with the title. I just deal with it by skipping to the next song every time it tries to play one of it’s favorites, which is almost every song.

I have put leather conditioner on my seats. The leather softened up nicely. It is basically lanolin. I have used this on the leather in my other cars and I have a 30 year old Buick that has leather that looks brand new. Even wins awards. It was a little tricky putting on the conditioner to avoid getting it on the mesh trim, but it has been worth it. It keeps those creases and wrinkles from forming. The mesh trim is holding up very well too. I thought it would be a crud catcher and would stain or discolor, but it looks just as new with no dirt or crud issues. I quite like the mesh they used. It has a distinct sparkle to it when the light hits it.

The maintenance reminder part of the trip computer is kinda worthless. It doesn’t have the interval I want to use, or even the interval that is recommended.

The cooled glove box is okay. It won’t refrigerate your drinks but it will keep a cold drink cold. Keeps your chocolate from melting too. But, ya gotta eat/drink it before you stop and let your car sit in the sun or it was all for nothing.

There is no lock on the glove box. It hasn’t really been a problem, but I am used to a locking glove box.

The subtle lighting in the console and door cubbies is really appreciated. You don’t notice it, but it is there when you need it. The lights on the steering wheel buttons is very subtle as well. Doesn’t hit you in the face like other cars I have had, but there is just enough illumination to find the button in the dark.

Continued in next post...
 

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1983 RIV CONVERTIBLE, 2011 KIA OPTIMA SX, 2014 BUICK LACROSSE PREMIUM II
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97 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
2 Year Ownership Report - Continued

I had read people complain that the panoramic sunroof creaked or rattled. I have never noticed any noise at all until just recently. When the roof is closed, but the shade is open I have heard a rattle when going over bumps. But, otherwise it has been silent. When completely closed it never makes any noise at all. I have enjoyed this sunroof more than any other I have owned. The panoramic panels lighten up what would otherwise be a dark interior.

I had also read about a turbo rattle on cold start, but either I don’t know what to listen for or my car just doesn’t do it because I don’t hear it. I garage my car, so any engine noises at cold start should echo off the walls. Maybe it does it but I don’t hear it.

The stereo sound quality is outstanding. Just outstanding. Best I have ever heard. No degradation that I can tell over 2 years. I get a little annoyed when I want to sit and listen to the stereo without the car running. After 10 minutes it starts putting out a battery warning and beeps, and it does it repeatedly every 2 minutes or so. Makes enjoying the stereo without the car running almost impossible.

The ability to store pictures on the USB and display them in the car is cool too. You can only do it when the car is in park, except for one picture it will allow you to store as a frame/wallpaper. That picture can only be displayed if the Navigation and Stereo are completely turned off. This is also true of an analog clock that I really like and use often. Actually that is one annoyance…you must hit the ACCEPT on the Navigation system to get a clock. You shouldn’t have to do that to see what time it is. That is why I often leave the Nav system off and use the analog clock. It displays upon starting the car if you are using it. I don’t know the logic as to why you can’t display this clock and also listen to music, but it is what it is.

I had Sirius radio/traffic for about 8 months before they finally cut me off. I have never subscribed to it. I have too many other free music options so I just don’t use it. The traffic feature was more entertainment than actually useful. Watching it change colors for congestion didn’t really do anything truly helpful, and the Navigation didn’t seem to use it to provide routes around the congestion. My Infiniti system would at least tell me there was congestion ahead. This system is mostly just a lot of pretty colors on the screen. I don’t subscribe, although Sirius refuses to give up on me. I get a couple offers a month from them.

Problems: At 4000 miles my check engine light came on. The dealer suggested bad gas and that I should run premium. The codes revealed a misfire in 2 cylinders. They reset it and the next morning it came on again. It would misfire on a cold start. So, they replaced the fuel injectors and fuel rails. I was nervous this was the beginning of something that would have me back at the dealership repeatedly. But, it has never misfired since the replacement. Runs great ever since. I have always run Top Tier gas, but always regular. It seems to be working for me.

My low tire pressure light came on, so I put air in to the recommended pressure and it stayed on. So, I thought I had a TPMS failure and went back to the dealer. He just put in more air and the light went out. It was a failure of my tire pressure gauge, not the car. I felt really stupid.

No other problems or trips to the dealer other than oil changes and tire rotations.

I have considered other mods but I don’t want to risk voiding this outstanding warranty. I have avoided anything that would tap into the wiring harness or suspension changes.

So, that is my 2 years of ownership. I am very satisfied with this car, and I am really not all that easy to please. I have owned a lot of cars that I traded off for relatively minor issues. I do recommend the Optima SX.
 

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2017 sportage sx
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448 Posts
Nice informative write-up Runner.
I have an '11 also but an EX-T and mostly a stripper.
I waited to get one not loaded.
The car arrived with the left pull and I've documented here how the fix came about. Part of it was a switch from Nexens to Michelins on KIA's dime. They are really excellent in all respects. Unlike you, I have much lower miles on it.
As I passed through 5000 miles the engine 'free'd-up' and gas mileage improved from 22-24 to a regular 29. That's about 70% street and 3/4 hour-long highway miles at 75+ MPH. I am not shy about using the power so am very pleased with the mileage. I know it would improve to the 30+ numbers you're getting with more highway and interstate usage.
Only back for oil changes and inspections. It's drum tight and solid. The seats are just fine for me and passengers. It's a keeper for me.
The worst aspect for me is the inability to clean the rear interior glass to spotless-a small gripe at that.
Best luck.
 

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2011 Optima SX, Tech & Premium Touring
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570 Posts
nice report, i am just over 36k miles and mostly similar report but have had a few issues but ZERO FAILURES. The finish on my wheels all failed, all 4 replaced under warranty early this year. i do have the left pull and will get this fixed soon as it is more annoying now and the fix has been in place for a long time. My pano roof certainly creaks (this started within the last 10k +/- miles. turbo rattle, sure but not "cold" here often so not a huge issue for me.
Mix mileage remains mid-upper 20's.
 

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2017 sportage sx
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448 Posts
Either of you two noticed if the motor 'came-in' at or near 5K miles? Meaning became free-er revving, more efficient and mileage improvement.
In past this was referred to as the 'rings coming in' (seating) and the bores setting in round condition due to heat cycles.
That is much less prevalent now with better metallurgy, tighter tolerances and low-tension ring packs.
But my engine noticeably improved in efficiency.
 

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2011 Optima SX, Tech & Premium Touring
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570 Posts
nah, not really but i was probably more inclined to give it a full punch then vs. brand new.
 

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Black 2011 Optima SX
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2-Year Ownership

I've had my SX for just about 2 years now. I have over 34k miles on it and so far no real problems and I thoroughly enjoy the car. A couple things I've had attended to: the positive battery terminal was replaced per a TSB. My check-engine light came on maybe around 25k miles - it was also TSB issue related to the turbo boost or waste-gate - I think its something mentioned on these boards a few times.

I've never had the left-pull problem (my car was manufactured on June 9, 2011), and haven't experienced some of the other ailments often mentioned such as a squeaky moon roof (my dealer did lubricate it when I mentioned I had read of complaints).

One pet-peeve I have that I've never read about on this forum is the outside temperature reading. The temp is consistently 3 degrees too high. I've asked the dealer about this and they even tried to quickly locate the sensor under the hood, but couldnt find it and told me they hadnt heard of other complaints. But there is no doubt the reading is off. Hmm.

I too have the pizza-pie wheels - they were something I specifically sought when looking for the car I'd buy - and I've also received nothing but compliments from people who see them. (I think) they look great on my black model. I painted the brake calipers (red) per some postings on this forum - looks awesome.

I'm still not crazy about the cloth inserts on the seats - never have been. We'll see over time if they really do help to avoid the common leather seat wrinkles near the front edges of the seats. And as for the interior accent lights in the lower part of the door/speaker fixtures - whats the point? They are so dim I can never tell if they're on or not. I dont get it. I've read about the mod you can make to install LED lights in there but it looks a bit too complicated. Maybe some day though.

Everyone who has been in the car with me has complimented it - its a great car and a great value, period. I look forward to seeing how it continues to age and perform.
 

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2017 sportage sx
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448 Posts
Could you amplify this statement? :
'the positive battery terminal was replaced per a TSB. '
Do you mean the battery was replaced? Can't just replace the terminal. Or do you mean the positive cable CLAMP was replaced??
Thanks.
 

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2011 Optima SX, Tech & Premium Touring
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570 Posts
Good question Codger, i know i had my battery fail (just under warranty) and with living here in Arizona 2-3 years is max for a battery so good timing. But this was no mentioned to be related to any TSB.
I did just have the voltage/wastgate issue and the TSB performed yesterday.
 

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Black 2011 Optima SX
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2 Posts
The clarification: it was the positive terminal clamp. Thanks Codger.
 

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2011 KIA Optima SX
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68 Posts
I got my 2011 SX back in march 2011

So far no left pull, sunroof squeaking, or turbo rattle.

The only issue I have is a bit of engine "stumbling" at cold start-up until the RPMs drop to normal levels. I'm not sure what's that about but no check engine lights or anything, just feels odd.

Otherwise I have a about 17k on the clock, and other than oil changes the car has been problem free, has good looks, an awesome stereo, and decent performance for a 4 banger family sedan.

I got the car much like OP for about 27.5K and so far it has earned it's keep.
 
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