2011 Kia Optima Review – Not Your Average Mid-Size Sedan

Friday April 8th, 2011 at 7:44 AM
Posted by: mtan

Inside, the soft color choices are soothing and pleasing to look at. We especially liked the heated steering wheel and the heated seats that felt like they heated your entire back all the way up to your shoulders. Though a little flat and lacking contouring, the leather seats provide a decently supportive position. The rear seats are roomy, inviting, and also heated.

Steering wheel mounted audio, cruise control, and eco buttons 8-way power adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support 6-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission

The height and reach adjustable steering wheel, with stereo, cruise, and phone controls, allow the steering position to be dialed in precisely and comfortably. The shifter is well placed to allow for easy manual shifting when desired, and the slightly driver biased center console angle allows for a strong sense of command when driving the car. Most everything is within easy reach, however a few of the switches could be placed in more sensible positions. The driver’s switch is perfectly obscured by the shifter and was awkward to reach when needed. The heated steering wheel button is completely invisible to the driver and unless the driver is looking for it, it’s very easy to overlook and forget. Additionally, due to the sleek design of the body and roofline, the car does exhibit a blind spot that may be even more of an issue for shorter drivers.

Build Quality

Over the short test period, the car did not emit any noticeable rattles or creaks. The doors felt solid and the interior materials made the car feel a bit more luxurious than the price would indicate. The dash has a softer, more tactile feel, and the leather seating surfaces are adequately soft for the price point. Impressively, all of the interior controls and accessories felt solid to the touch. The body panel gaps and lines were also very even, proving that Kia is serious about detail, fit, and finish.

2011 Kia Optima

Styling

A friend asked, is that a Lexus?? Kia did a great job integrating a sleek, aerodynamic design into a roomy midsized sedan. Our test car was equipped with the dual glass roof option, so the entire roof was black. In contrast to the white body, the end result is a sporty, somewhat unique two toned look that is usually reserved for higher end tuner and European cars. The Xenon high intensity headlights up front flank what has become Kia’s signature grille shape. It’s distinguishable and helps to separate this car from its stable mate, the Hyundai Sonata, and more plainly styled competitors like the Camry and Accord.

Value

A base Kia Optima stickers at $24,495. Fully spec’d as we had it, the total MSRP came to $27,440. Considering the number of amenities in this car, I consider it a good value, especially when compared to competitors such as the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, and Nissan Altima. Both the equivalently spec’d Accord and Sonata average from $28,500 to $29,500. The Altima comes in a bit under the Optima at just over $27,100, but the Optima has the edge in creature comforts. Infinity Audio, Sat Nav, back up camera, panoramic sunroof, heated and cooled seats, and the heated steering wheel are just a few of the numerous amenities that make the Optima a clear value leader in its category. Given the competition and cost comparisons, buyers should not overlook this car.

2011_kia_optima_37_240x160 2011_kia_optima_39_240x160

Who should buy it?

Okay, this is no Lexus, but as I stated earlier, the Kia is nicely appointed with many of the same creature comforts that Toyota’s premium marque routinely specs in their cars. Lexus is renowned for the numerous amenities that create a very comfortable and luxurious driving experience. Buyers who are looking for comfort and amenities at a value price should consider the Kia Optima. Compared to the more widely accepted brands on the market, I found this car to be loaded with a ton of features that are typically only found on much more expensive models and marques.

Not Your Average Mid-Size Sedan

The Kia Optima is in fact, not your average midsized sedan. In retrospect, I found the car to be much more than I expected it to be. Never when I drove it did I feel like I was driving anything but both a sporty AND luxurious car. I found myself using the navigation, heated seats, and heated steering wheel every time I was in it. In fact, on one blustery, rainy day, I sat in the car a little bit longer just to enjoy the warmth. These features are common among higher end cars, but at this price point, it makes the car stand just a bit taller than the rest of its peers.

At the end of the day, though the car didn’t quite evoke the same passion and verve that I would expect from a sporty Lexus, it did place an exclamation mark by its name when compared to other more average sedans on the market.

BUILD INTERIOR PERFORMANCE HANDLING STYLING VALUE OVERALL
RATING 4.0 3.0 3.0 3.0 4.0 4.0 3.5/C

2011 Kia Optima Photo Gallery

2011 Kia Optima


Kia MotorsThe official website of Kia Motors – www.kia.com

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