Tuesday, April 26 2016 09:52

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

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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