Shopping for a new Kia has never been easier with 14 conveniently located dealerships here in Vermont. That’s important because Kia Motors is in the midst of a dramatic, design-led redux that has already delivered several dynamically styled new vehicles to those dealers. Now the all-new Optima is here, following the introduction of the 2011 Sorento CUV, and Sportage compact CUV.
Designed at Kia’s studios in Frankfurt and Irvine, California, Optima displays a refreshing design philosophy that is new to Kia. So unique is the styling that it will take more than a glance to identify it as a Kia. Its smooth-flowing lines offer a not-so-subtle hint of European luxury.
Built on a unibody structure, the front–wheel drive Optima uses independent front and rear suspension systems. MacPherson struts are used up front with a multi–link layout in the rear. Both use coil springs and front anti–roll bars for responsive handling and comfort.
Even though it uses the same global platform and powertrain as the all-new highly successful Hyundai Sonata, that’s where the similarity ends. This third generation Optima is longer, wider and lower than the vehicle it replaces.
With Kia’s first application of gas direct injection technology, Optima offers a choice of two Theta II powerplants. The 2.4-liter GDI engine produces 200 horsepower and posts 24/35 mpg (city/highway) with the manual transmission and 24/34 mpg when coupled with the automatic.
Upgrading to the 2.0-liter turbo GDI engine delivers V6-type power with a four-cylinder engine that produces 274 horsepower and 22/34 mpg. It’s only available with the automatic transmission.
Available in three trims, LX, EX and SX, the 2011 Optima has a remarkably long list of standard features. The LX includes dual exhaust with chrome tips, solar glass, outside mirror turn signal indicators and 16-inch steel wheels fitted with 205/65R16 tires.
Upgrading to the EX adds premium standard features, including the UVO powered by Microsoft hands-free in-car entertainment and communication system with rear-view camera, push button-start ignition with smart key, dual-zone automatic air conditioning with rear vents, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, fog lights, heated outside mirrors and 17-inch alloy wheels with P215/55/R17 tires.
Moving up to the SX adds HID headlights with auto leveling, LED rear combination lights, Also added are unique black leather woven seat trim, black interior trim with carbon insert film, driver and front passenger automatic window up/down and an eight-way power driver’s seat, illuminated glovebox, rear reading lamps and special meter cluster with LCD display, center fascia and meter housing and soft trim with French seams.
A rear lip spoiler, black front brake calipers and 18-inch black machined finish alloy wheels furnished with P225/45R18 tires, steering wheel paddle shifters, metal pedals and lighted metal door scuff plates add a sporty touch.
Inside the cabin, the fit, finish and quality of materials is much better than you might expect in a Kia. The instrument panel and driver-oriented center console have a stitched leather-like covering. That and the well-positioned gauges and controls give the cabin a comfortable, inviting cockpit feel. A high console with a short shifter adds to the cockpit perception. Moving to the EX Turbo also adds wood interior trim with metal accents for a more luxurious feel.
Stylish cloth seats provide comfortable seating while a 60/40 split-folding rear seat offers multiple seating and cargo arrangements. Comfort and convenience features include a illuminated vanity mirrors, a trip computer, tilt/telescopic steering column, power door locks, power windows, sun visor extension and a cooling glove box.
Cabin occupants can be entertained with the AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system with it’s SIRIUS Satellite Radio, USB audio input jacks and Bluetooth mobil phone operation. Optima offers a multitude of packages for each trim, including Convenience Package, Technology Package and the Premium Package,
Optima is equipped with full complement of standard safety features, including six airbags (dual advanced front and front-seat mounted side as well as full-length side curtain), front active headrests, height-adjustable front seatbelts with pre-tensioners, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) and a tire pressure monitoring system. Four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, brake assist and hill assist also are standard.
The 2011 Optima is covered by KMA’s warranty program, which offers a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty and a five-year/100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan also is part of the vehicle coverage.
Prices start at $19,200.