Kia has been lacking a flagship luxury model since the Amanti was cancelled in 2009, but the all-new 2013 Kia Optima SX Limited is ready to fill this luxurious role. Unveiled earlier this year at the Chicago Auto Show, the Kia Optima SX Limited (also known as the Optima SXL or Optima Limited) began rolling off the production line at Kia's West Point, Ga. assembly plant last month, and the cars are beginning to hit dealerships this week. The top-of-the-line Optima SX Limited will come fully loaded with a starting MSRP of $34,500 (not including the $775 destination charge).
This starting price marks a $13,300 premium over a base Optima LX and a $7,700 premium over the Optima SX, but the car can easily be looked at as a more luxurious version of the Hyundai Azera suddenly making the price seem more reasonable. Starting with the already well-equipped Optima SX, the Limited adds a more distinct styling with unique chrome 18-inch wheels, LED running lights in the front fascia, red-painted front brake calipers and chrome accents on the decklid spoiler and lower door trim. The new Optima SX Limited is only offered in three colors (Snow White Pearl, Titanium Silver and Ebony Black).
Knowing that it is going to take more than some styling upgrades to lure buyers to this premium model, Kia gave its new 2013 Kia Optima SX Limited a very plush interior. We have not been inside the new Limited yet, but Kia promises impressive features for a non-luxury mid-size sedan including white or black Nappa leather (used on the seats, door panels and center console), wood accents (on the steering wheel, shift lever and door panels) and a soft, black tricot fabric (on the headliner, sun visors and pillar trim). Like all Optima SX models, the Limited comes standard with heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, panoramic sunroof, navigation, Infinity audio system, HID headlights and a sport-tuned suspension.
"The Limited delivers upscale features and premium materials that discerning midsize sedan customers are not able to find in many of our competitors," said Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing and communications for Kia Motors America. "The Optima has been earning design, performance and value awards since arriving in showrooms in early 2011, and the Limited is the latest example of the brand's compelling package of style, fuel economy, technology – and now opulence – to appeal to an even wider consumer base."
Unfortunately, there are no power or performance upgrades made to the Optima SX Limited over the SX, which means that the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is still found under the hood sending 274 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. In continuing with our comparison to the 2012 Hyundai Azera, these power figures are pretty close with 19 fewer ponies and 14 more lb-ft.