The Kia Optima is a mid-size car sold only as a four-door sedan. It is a front-engine and front-wheel drive vehicle. Kia has used various nameplates to market the Optima since the model was first introduced in 2000. Although the first and second generation of Optimas had sluggish sales and disappointing reviews, Kia launched a third generation model in 2011. This last generation of Optimas has received significantly better reviews and is expected to sell more units.
The Optima's LX and EX trims have a four-cylinder engine producing 200 horsepower. An alternate engine version designed for California-style emissions regulations has 192 horsepower. Automatic transmission Optimas should make 24 miles per gallon in city driving and 34 on the highway. Manual transmission versions are expected to average 24 miles per gallon under city conditions and 35 on the highway. The EX Turbo and SX trims have a four-cylinder engine with a turbocharger that puts out 274 horsepower. Fuel economy for the turbocharged engine should be 22 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on the highway.
Kia initially introduced the Optima in 2000. The first generation was merely a repackaged Hyundai Sonata with some minor cosmetic alterations. Sales were sluggish and reviews were frequently negative. The second generation of Optimas launched in 2005. Kia invested more resources in the second generation and moved away from using the original Sonata design. The Optima's third generation was completely redesigned for the 2011 model year. Reviews have been significantly more positive for the third generation compared to its predecessors. Unit sales are expected to be higher as well.
The Optima is currently sold in LX, EX, EX Turbo or SX trim. The basic LX trim includes powered accessories, air conditioning and a stereo with a CD player, although the automatic and manual transmission models may vary in its offerings of standard equipment. The EX trim has 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and leather upholstery. The EX Turbo upgrades the engine and installs more powerful brakes. The SX has the upgraded engine, along with 18-inch wheels, a sports suspension and rear spoiler. The Technology package, which is available for all trims except the manual transmission LX, adds a basic navigation system, Infinity audio system with eight speakers and a rear-view camera.
Edmunds' Inside Line gave the Optima a 2011 Editors' Most Wanted Vehicle award. The federal government's NHTSA rated the Optima with five stars for overall crash safety and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Optima a 2011 Top Safety Pick. Cars.com included the Optima as one of its Best of 2011. Independent reviewers have generally praised the 2011 Optima's redesign, saying it has successfully evolved from the disappointing previous generations.
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