The world has indeed gone SUV mad these days, but for some tow car buyers, those high-riding pseudo-off-roaders simply don’t push the right buttons.
In which case, having an estate tow car makes a great option.
If that’s your situation, and you’re also on the lookout to bag a bargain-priced load-lugger that might even have some of the original manufacturer’s warranty outstanding, the Kia Optima Sportswagon is likely to be a pretty fine choice.
What’s a Kia Optima Sportswagon like inside?
Comfort is always an important factor when you’re looking for the best caravan tow car. In the case of the Kia Optima Sportswagon, its big interior means the two people in the front seats get a huge amount of legroom and headroom, and the seats adjust every which way, so getting comfortable should be no problem at all.
The good news continues in the back, where there’s enough height and width for three six-footers to sit in comfort, even if your campsite is far away.
The boot should be ample for everyone’s luggage. Better still, the load floor is low and there’s no annoying lip to lift items over. The tailgate lifts a long way up, too.
Four trims were offered – 2, 3, 4 and GT-Line S. Even 2 has climate control, parking sensors at both ends, electrically operated folding door mirrors, cruise control and a reversing camera.
The 3 trim adds heated, electrically adjustable front seats, a heated steering wheel, high-end audio and part-leather trim. The 4-spec models had a 360-degree parking camera, rear cross-traffic alert, cooled front seats and leather trim. GT-Line S trim added black mirror caps, twin exhausts, and red stitching inside.
How does a Kia Optima Sportswagon drive?
There were a number of powertrains, comprising petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid. However, tow car drivers would still be wise to opt for diesel models.
The car was launched with a 1.7-litre CRDi engine that offers a punchy 251lb ft of torque, which makes it great for towing duties and nippy when pulling away from rest. Manual and twin-clutch automatic transmissions were available, the latter definitely taking the stress out of towing and manoeuvring.
But this engine was also quite raucous and rough-sounding. It was replaced in 2018 with a 1.6-litre diesel that’s equally punchy and much quieter.
The Optima is most at home on the motorway, but the ride quality deteriorates in town and on twisty roads.
The Kia is stable when towing on a calm day, but gets a bit flustered in crosswinds. Performance is a tad lethargic, too. But an average economy of more than 60mpg means that the fuel gauge will descend so slowly, you might almost think it’s broken.
- See our caravan towing tips guide to find our top tips for staying safe on the roads
What will a Kia Optima Sportswagon tow?
- Kerbweight: 1635kg
- Towing limit: 1500kg
- Towball limit: 80kg
- 85% match: 1389kg
- Insurance group 21
- Annual VED £165
- Average economy 61.4mpg
- Interim/full service £176/£124
- Servicing prices supplied by Servicing Stop, 0844 324 5262
Kia Optima Sportswagon trouble spots
If you’re looking for the best used tow car and your number one requirement is reliability, the Kia Optima Sportswagon is a great place to start, because it has been recalled precisely once in its life.
It was recalled because the forward collision-avoidance system could fail to detect stationary vehicles.
So you can buy your Kia without worrying about whether all of the recall work has been carried out.
Full details of the recall can be found at www.check-vehicle-recalls.service.gov.uk.
What to pay for a Kia Optima Sportswagon
- High: Price: £23,995; Model: 2019 1.6 CRDi GT-Line S; Miles: 14,500
- Sweet spot: Price: £16,999; Model: 2019 1.6 CRDi 3 DCT; Miles: 37,100
- Low: Price: £7950; Model: 2016 1.6 CRDi 2; Miles: 127,000
The Kia Optima Sportswagon might be an unfashionable estate car, but it is spacious and practical, and it will still have some manufacturer warranty remaining. But the diesel engine is noisy, and the Optima can feel a bit bullied by a heavy trailer.
- Take a look at our best caravan towing mirrors guide to see our top picks that will help you and your tourer stay safe on the road.
Or you could try…
Škoda Superb Estate
If you’re as keen on space as Elon Musk, the Škoda Superb Estate is the go-to choice. It’s vast, for passengers and all their stuff. There’s a huge range of engines, from a 1.4-litre petrol to a 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel with dual-clutch automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. It’s well equipped, too; entry-level models have air-con, DAB radio and Bluetooth.
See our review of the 2022 Škoda Superb Estate.
Ford Mondeo Estate
The Ford Mondeo Estate is the car to choose if you have a load of stuff to take to a destination far away, and you want to enjoy the drive. Base-spec Style has dual-zone climate control and cruise control, but you need to move up to Zetec for a heated windscreen; this will also add sat-nav, power-folding door mirrors, and automatic lights and wipers.
VW Golf Estate
If you want a car that will fit your life unobtrusively, the Volkswagen Golf Estate could be the finest choice of all. Its boot has a low loading level, almost no loading lip and an adjustable-height floor. It can’t match the Škoda’s space, but it’s still usefully roomy. There’s a huge range of models to choose from, including a 296bhp 2.0-litre petrol in the four-wheel-drive R version.
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