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2011 Kia Optima Review

An Appealing Alternative

A three-quarter front view of a red 2011 Kia Optima

In short: A mid-size luxury sedan from the new Kia.

Kia Motors America would like us to consider its vehicles "Transformed by Design." The Optima's new platform transformed the model's on-road performance as much as the design staff has recreated its image. The long sweeps of dramatic sculpture are far more compelling than the modest styling of its last generation, though the price remains virtually unchanged. The low roof with a black center section seems the universal style statement that suggests an extension from the windshield to the rear window — a pretense of a transparent roof. On the Optima it can be a real panoramic roof, with transparent panels over each row of seats and fore and aft roll-out curtains to cover them when needed.

Optima's new interior is so well appointed, and is so completely equipped, it puts even the LX base model near the luxury category. Standard equipment includes a premium sound system with Sirius XM satellite radio and USB, auxiliary, and Bluetooth connectivity; a tilting and telescoping steering wheel with elegantly simple controls that include Audi-like scroll switches; and power locks and windows. The option list offers heated front and rear seats and cooling on the fronts. Refrigeration is also available in the glove box for your traveling beverages. There is even a "bottle holder" at the leading end of the front door pockets. The large rectangular trunk can have its capacity more than doubled by rear seats that fold forward in a 60/40 split. All automatic transmission models come with a manual control gate and cruise control.

The up-scale EX model adds fog lights and heated mirrors to the outside, a bit more bright work (the new chrome trim) and body-color door handles; inside are a push-button ignition and dual-zone climate control. Kia and Microsoft joined forces to create a new UVO (Your Voice) system for entertainment and telephone control that will be available soon. The central screen can also be controlled by touch and links to a rear-view camera when the car is in reverse. Organization of the function control set is both rational and artful. The design team was given a free hand to give the driver an effective cockpit with a sporting ambiance. Kia's overall design transformation should increase the resale value (and lease residual) far beyond the traditional expectation of cars in the Optima's price category.

Related Content:
2012 Kia Optima SX Turbo
2012 Kia Optima Hybrid

Warranty/Service: Five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty; five-year-100,000-mile limited anti-perforation warranty; ten-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty; five-year/60,000-mile 24-hour roadside assistance

Base Price: $18,195

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front engine, front-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

Engine: 2.4-liter GDI 4-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 200 hp
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with Sportmatic gear change

Wheelbase: 110 in
Length/Width/Height: 190.7/72.1/57.3 in

4-wheel power-assisted disc brakes with ABS and brake assist
Suspension: independent MacPherson strut front; independent multi-link rear; coil springs and anti-roll bar in front and rear

Traction: electronic stability control; traction control; hill start assist

EPA City:
24 mpg
EPA Highway: 34 mpg

dual front airbags; front seat-mounted side airbags; full-length side curtain airbags

Likes: design; interior appointments; performance

Dislikes: engine noise at high speeds


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Text and Photography: AlphaMedia

PNW080410 (Updated: 10/17/11 NW)