Lots of standard equipment makes it a strong value/li>
Impressive safety scores
60 month/60k mile warranty
Detached feel from steering response
Low profile compromises headroom
Ruling: Kia has a strong reputation for value and the Optima is attractive on many counts to capture the buyers willing to take a risk. The Optima's long list of options and lengthy warranty should make it a compelling choice for those who want a sedan that won't get lost in the four-door crowd.
Now in its third generation, the 2011 Kia Optima features an all-new crisp and modern design that distinguishes it from the rest of the cars in its class.
Under the skin, the Optima uses the same platform as the 201 Hyundai Sonata. The cars share nearly identical dimensions: they both have a 110-inch wheelbase, and the Optima is just an inch longer overall than the Sonata.
The new Optima offers a choice of three powertrains, including a hybrid. The first to arrive will be a 200-hp, 2.4-liter, direct-fuel-injected, four-cylinder engine, paired with a six-speed transmission (manual or automatic, take your pick). Whether you choose manual or automatic, the Optima will return an impressive 24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.
The second Optima powertrain option offered is a 274-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that's an option in the Sonata. That powerhouse will be joined exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission and provide 22 mpg city and a rather astounding 34 mpg highway.
Verdict: The Kia Optima is in fact, not your average midsized sedan. In retrospect, I found the car to be much more than I expected it to be. Never when I drove it did I feel like I was driving anything but both a sporty AND luxurious car. I found myself using the navigation, heated seats, and heated steering wheel every time I was in it. In fact, on one blustery, rainy day, I sat in the car a little bit longer just to enjoy the warmth. These features are common among higher end cars, but at this price point, it makes the car stand just a bit taller than the rest of its peers.
At the end of the day, though the car didn’t quite evoke the same passion and verve that I would expect from a sporty Lexus, it did place an exclamation mark by its name when compared to other more average sedans on the market.