2011 Kia Optima Overview
If you don’t recognize the 2011 Kia Optima at first glance, that’s probably a good thing. The new Optima has been completely rebuilt from the wheels up, and with its new style and affordable sticker looks ready to take on the rest of the midsize sedan segment.
We aren’t trying to take anything away from the previous Optima – it was a solid, well priced midsize competitor, if a little plain looking. But the new Optima stands out in a sea of homogenous sedans and is a bond fide head turner, with some of the most edgy styling to be found in this class. Up front you’ll find a black mesh grille and the angular headlamps that Kia is spreading across its product line. Tightly sculpted lines and creases on the hood and body work move from front to back, and give the Optima an aggressive, edgier feel. The Optima is available in three distinct trim levels: base LX, EX, and SX. 16-inch wheels are standard, with larger wheels added on as you move up the trim levels.
Under the hood, the 2011 Optima offers you the choice of two very distinct powertrains, which it shares with its cousin the Hyundai Sonata. Up first is an efficient, 200-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder which is mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. For added kick, the Optima eschews the V-6 option that is traditional for midsize sedans in favor of a 274-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. This engine is only available with the six-speed automatic transmission. Opting for the base engine nets you impressive fuel economy of 24 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway. The advantage of opting for a turbocharged four-cylinder, instead of a larger V-6, is found at the pump, and the more powerful engine gets you fuel economy numbers very near what the base engine gets, with 22 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. These numbers eclipse those of the competing Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Ford Fusion.
If you’re looking to squeeze even more fuel efficiency out of your car, keep an eye out for the 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid which should debut sometime in 2011.
Due to their sharing of engine parts, one might expect the interiors on the 2011 Optima and Sonata to be similar, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Optima’s cockpit is very driver centered – the center console doesn’t sit straight ahead, but is angled to the driver’s side to give you easier access to controls. Standard features on the Optima include a cooled glove box, Bluetooth® connectivity, USB/auxiliary audio inputs, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Moving up the EX trim adds premium features like a power driver’s seat, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, and Kia’s UVO entertainment system which is similar to Ford’s SYNC technology. The line-topping SX trim adds leather, paddle shifters, and metal pedals to the mix.
Safety comes standard on the 2011 Optima – antilock brakes, front side-impact and side curtain airbags, and an electronic stability system come on every car.
The 2011 Kia Optima proves that a car can be midsized and practical, without losing edgy styling or its fun-to-drive factor. It is a delightful flash of color in what was turning into a sea of beige.