Saturday, February 12, 2011
KIA Optima Pictures
Kia is busy at this year’s New York auto show, debuting the redesigned Sportage, the new Forte hatchback, and the all-new Optima sedan detailed here.While preliminary sketches suggested an Optima with a hot-rod chop to the roof, the production version has less-severe proportions and windows out of which people can actually see. Longer (by 1.7 inches), lower (by an inch), and wider (by 0.9 inch) than the outgoing car, the Optima forms a much more dramatic shape than the model it replaces, yet its shape is not as commanding as that of its platform-mate, Hyundai’s suddenly smokin’ Sonata.
If the shape of the Optima isn’t quite as sultry as the Sonata’s, the powertrains will be precisely as stimulating, because they’ll be shared. A direct-injection, 2.4-liter inline-four is the standard engine, available in the base LX trim with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. A direct-injection, turbocharged four is the hot mill, with a whopping 274 horses from just 2.0 liters. Sadly, that engine will only be available with the automatic. And like the Sonata, the Optima will yield a hybrid option early in 2011. The suspension, too, is shared with the Sonata, with MacPherson struts, coil spri
ngs, and an anti-roll bar up front and a multilink setup with coils in back.
If the Optima were a farmer, its standard-equipment crop would be bountiful. A dual exhaust with chrome tips; turn signals integrated into the mirror housings a sound system with Sirius satellite radio and USB, auxiliary, and Bluetooth connectivity; a tilting and telescoping steering wheel; and power locks and windows are all standard on the base LX model. The rear seat splits 60/40 and folds, and all automatic models come with cruise control.
Three trim levels are primarily differentiated on the outside by their wheel sizes. LX models wear 16s, EXs get 17s, and the big-dog SX rolls on 18s. To the LX’s gear, the EX adds fog lights, heated outside mirrors, body-color door handles, a little more chrome pizzazz, a rearview camera, push-button ignition, dual-zone climate control, and Kia’s new Uvo vehicle-interface system developed with Microsoft.
Spring for the SX, and you’ll net HID headlights, LED taillights, and an LCD information screen tucked into the instrument panel. The SX also is set apart with a unique appearance, thanks to a separate grille design, exclusive rocker moldings, a lip spoiler, and red brake calipers. Inside is French-stitched black leather, with metal pedals and paddle shifters to make the driver feel faster.
While the look is thoroughly overhauled, don’t expect pricing to change much. When the new Optima goes on sale in early fall of 2010, the sticker should stay close to today’s range of $18,000 to $23,000.Regardless, in the hyper-competitive mid-size-sedan market, Kia has nothing to lose and everything to gain by turning its milquetoast Optima into something other than what it is today.