Buyer’s Guide: Kia’s Latest Sedan Has an Audi Influence

The 2011 Optima gets a sportier makeover that adds some stiff competition to the midsize market

The optimum view (Source:


  • MSRP: $27,440 (Base Kia Optima starts out under $20,000)
  • Engine/Horsepower: 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder/200
  • Fuel Mileage: 24-city/34-hwy
  • Highlights: Power driver’s seat, dual-zone a/c; Bluetooth connectivity; push-button keyless starter; automatic dimming rearview mirrors; leather seat trim; 3-month Satellite radio subscription;17-inch wheels
  • Competition: Chevy Malibu, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Suzuki Kizashi and Toyota Camry


The exterior design of the Optima was influenced by Kia’s design chief, Peter Schreyer, who formerly worked for Audi. With that said, the 2011 model year offers a sporty design along with a high-level of class-leading features.


Surprisingly, the midlevel Optima I reviewed was outfitted with Kia’s optional Technology and Premium Package, which one would typically expect on high-end vehicles. The Tech Package includes such high-end features as a nav system with a back-up camera and a premium sounding 8-speaker Infinity audio system.

The EX optional Premium Package, on the other hand, includes a panoramic sunroof, a power passenger seat, a programmable driver seat memory, heated (and cooled) front seats, separate heat controls for the rear seats and a heated leather steering wheel. Who would have expected all that on a Kia, right?

Also, a version of Ford’s SYNC system will be available in the Optima soon. Kia’s system will be known as UVO, a hands-free in-car entertainment (and communication) system, which will allow texting, emails and the like.

Moreover, the fuel-efficient Optima EX I reviewed managed to achieve close to 460 miles on one-tank of gas. Who needs a hybrid when achieving this type of driving range? Ironically, an Optima hybrid will join the lineup soon. Go figure.


Kia makes another sporty sedan (Source:


I would have liked to have seen a sportier wheel package available on the midlevel EX trim just like what’s available on the high-end turbo engine. And while the Optima I test drove was equipped with a number of high-tech features, it didn’t offer a blind-spot detection system, which alerts the driver of vehicle’s in its blind-spot before changing lanes. However, knowing Kia, they’ll probably add this safety feature in another year or two. Furthermore, don’t be fooled by the sporty Audi-like exterior design, it still drives like a comfortable, but uneventful family sedan, as opposed to a German-made vehicle.


Kia has another winner on its hands, with the roomy, fuel-efficient, value-packed 2011 Kia Optima. Overall it’s the sportier alternative to its sibling, the sexy Hyundai Sonata, offering more content at a lower price. Like the Sonata, the stylish Optima sets a new standard for midsize family sedan, complete with one of the best new-vehicle warranties in the industry.

For those in the market for a standout midsize sedan, the Optima should be placed at the top of the shopping list. Besides the Hyundai, what other vehicle offers all of this for under $30,000?

  • Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To price a new-vehicle or get the latest car-buying tips, drive on over to



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