You could easily dismiss the 2011 Kia Optima family sedan as just a “late to the party” mechanical clone of the Hyundai Sonata which has already unseated the Nissan Altima from its traditional #3 spot on the sales charts. So what is it that the 2011 Kia Optima has that the already exemplary Sonata does not?
Well, this is really the first time that Hyundai and Kia have taken wildly divergent styling paths with their interior/exterior designs for models built off of the same platform. GM couldn’t even pull that off with six separate divisions using the same platform.
Where the 2011 Sonata is all swoops and curves, the 2011 Optima is instead more angular, European and vaguely Saab-like. I would, in fact, buy the 2011 Optima over the 9-5 any day as it will probably cost half even in top of the line SX trim with the turbocharged engine.
The 2011 Kia Optima comes in three different flavors (LX, EX and sport SX) with three different powertrain options. First off is, of course, the direct injected 200 horsepower 2.0 liter 4-cylinder that returns amazing EPA estimates of 24 city/34 highway. Can’t really wish for a V6 engine option with those numbers now can you? Or can you?
Well, if you want more power but don’t want to pay for it at the gas pumps, the 2011 Kia Optima also offers a turbocharged version of the 2.0 liter engine that puts out 274 horsepower. An unbelievable bonus is the fact that fuel economy only drops to 22 city/34 highway. The turbo is only available on mid-level EX trims and comes standard with every SX model.
Now if this weren’t all enough to ensure the 2011 Optima’s meteoric rise to the top of the family sedan class (from way down at the bottom), a class leading hybrid version is also on its way. Not only does the Optima hybrid feature much more advanced lithium-ion batteries but it also uses a conventional 6-speed automatic. So there will be none of that annoying CVT whine that you get with most hybrids.
As is becoming the norm with most new Kia models, the 2011 Optima will offer most every option you can imagine. Push button start, heated seats (for front and rear passengers), a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, navigation, paddle shifters (SX models) are all features from the luxury class. But since this is a Kia, Bluetooth and a USB port come standard.
Lastly, the 2011 Kia Optima just looks better inside and out than anything else in its class. And yes, that includes the Sonata. Perhaps that is why Kia gave it a bit of a jump start in the market before launching the 2011 Optima? Perhaps.
The new 2011 Kia Optima will start arriving at dealerships in November with the turbo and hybrid models launching shortly thereafter.
Source: Kia Media Website