Sometimes a calamity can prove to be beneficial.
When Tony Breen, a senior QA Engineer from Billerica, Massachusetts, totaled his new car, he was predictably devastated. It was the first time he had purchased a current-year model, and there was a no way he’d be able to re-purchase a similar vehicle.
“I had totaled my 2014 Toyota Corolla, which at the time was brand new…my first brand new car ever,” Breen remembered. “Of course, it was stripped-down. I mean, it was only two above the base model.”
Breen certainly didn’t expect that the destruction of his “new vehicle” would lead to him purchasing a fully decked-out 2014 Kia Optima. Having driven the vehicle for more than a year now, the owner couldn’t be happier with his current ride.
Before we dive into several of his favorite attributes of the vehicle, let’s see how Breen lucked into this situation in the first place…
Blessing in Disguise
As a result of the totaled vehicle, Tony and his wife traveled to local used car dealerships to search through their inventory. The pair was seeking a luxury vehicle, justifying the pricey, ambitious purchase by pursuing a used model. The husband and wife certainly weren’t expecting to find a one-year-old mid-size car, and they certainly weren’t expecting to immediately fall in love with the nameplate.
“We were looking around for cars, and we drove to a place here in town that had used cars for sale,” said Breen. “The majority of them are Cadillacs and whatnot, but they had a couple other cars. They tend to take cars that are eight-years-old, 60,000 miles kind of things.
“We went and we just figured we would take a look and see what it was and see what they had. When we got there, they ended up having this 2014 Kia Optima with only 9,000 miles on it. Very unlike anything that they usually sell.”
Breen was truly at the right place at the right time. The vehicle had only popped up on the lot the day before, with the former owner trading it in for a different used vehicle. The duo caught a glimpse of the vehicle and was instantly impressed, even despite the fact that it hadn’t yet been vacuumed or cleaned.
“Now, this was the Kia Optima SX, the second priciest model,” Breen explained. “It has the panoramic sunroof. It has the heated front and cooled front seat. It has heated backseats. It’s leather. It has the back-up camera. It has navigation. It pretty much had every available feature that you could ever want in a car. All I really wanted in a car and all I’ve usually gone for was air conditioning, four wheels and a decent radio. This was a bit different.”
Love at First…Drive
Predictably, Breen fell in love with the vehicle following one brief test drive.
“It drove like a dream,” he said. “We finished and my wife looked at me and goes, ‘Well, I guess we’re not test driving anymore cars this weekend because anything else we’re going to test drive is going to pretty much suck in comparison.'”
The couple went home and crunched the numbers, establishing their budget and a peak value they were willing to pay.
“My wife and I go off and think about it,” he explained. “Well, we came back and we ended up paying less money for the 2014 fully-loaded Kia than we ended up paying for the stripped-down, bare-bones Toyota Corolla. Again, the difference in the quality of the car is night and day.”
Having driven the vehicle for more than a year, Breen has become familiar with all of the Optima’s nuances and features. While the driver acknowledged that he’s never looking to push the pedal to the metal, he still recognized the amount of power that lingers under the vehicle’s hood.
“It’s a fun car to drive,” he said. “It’s got plenty of power. It has some getup and go. I’ve never worried about acceleration on the highway or going on ramps. It certainly has more than enough power to beat out any other driver.”
This news shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, as the nameplate has consistently been commended for its power. The 2014 model came with a 2.4-liter Inline-4 engine, which could pump out 192 horsepower and 181 pounds-feet of torque. The brand has evolved over the past two years; the new 1.6-liter Turbocharged engine has been added for the 2016 model year, a unit which can pump out 178 horsepower and 195 pounds-feet of torque.
The various interior amenities are particularly important to Breen, and not just from a comfort standpoint. The heated seats actually make those long family trips more bearable for his wife.
“As a guy who is not small, I love the cooled seats,” Breen explained. “My wife appreciates the heated seats. She has a bad back, and when we do long trips to Vermont, she can do the three-and-a-half hours and not feel like her back is broken.”
During these road trips, Breen has also grown to appreciate the Optima’s center touchscreen, which provides access to an extensive navigation system and satellite radio.
“I have a larger LCD screen than your standard, so that’s really nice,” he explained. “I use the navigation quite a bit, and I do have the satellite radio for it. We do these trips to Burlington, Vermont, and that makes it a whole lot easier to be able to drive off and just keep playing music all the way.”
What’s surprised Breen the most about the Optima? It could be the inclusion of the rear back-up camera. The unit makes reversing your vehicle an absolute breeze, as drivers can monitor all of the happenings behind their car. This can prevent a significant accident, something that Breen is certainly looking to avoid.
“Yeah, the camera has been something that my wife was always against,” he laughed. “She did not want a back-up camera in any car that she owned. Now, every time she gets into her car and has to back up manually without a back-up camera, it’s like, “I don’t know how I ever did it.” We appreciate the back-up camera very much so.”
Breen was expecting the worst when he totaled his car. Instead, he ended up getting the best. The Kia Optima showed this driver what the brand has to offer, and it’s guaranteed that he’ll continue to pursue the brand’s selection of capable vehicles in the future.