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By Jerry Edgerton | CBS MoneyWatch – Wed, May 11, 2011 5:25 PM EDT
2011 Kia Optima
Until recently, Kia was known chiefly as the automaker with the funny commercials featuring hip-hop hamsters.
But it was the quick steering and crisp handling that gave Optima the edge over the Accord, long among the top-selling midsize sedans. CR test drivers said the Accord handling was “sloppy with notable body lean” when it was pushed on the magazine’s test track.
Optima ranks sixth overall among four-cylinder family sedans. The top five are Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata,Toyota Camry, Subaru Legacy and Suzuki Kizashi. The Accord came in at No. 7. The review is in the June issue or available on the CR website if you are a subscriber.Both Kia and its Korean corporate stablemate, Hyundai, already sell well, but the two have benefited further from tight supplies of Japanese cars and parts after the recent earthquake and tsunami.In addition to the Optima, sales have been strong for Kia vehicles like the midsize Sorento SUV and the small, boxy Soul (promoted by the hip-hop hamsters). At the recent New York Auto Show, Kia introduced the 2012 subcompact Rio, which is rated for 40 mpg in highway driving.
RALLY AUTO GROUP
Welcome to Rally Kia!
We invite you to come see Kia’s new lineup, including vehicles like the
and Forte Koup. Come see the all-new 2011 Kia Sorento! Our professionally trained staff is on hand to answer any questions you may have. Get a quick quote here, or feel free tocontact us via phone or email.Our service and parts departments are staffed with ASE-certified professionals that can help you with anything related to Kia repair, service or maintenance. Serving as your Simi Valley Kia,
Rally Kia is your one-stop shop, located at 412 Auto Vista Drive in Palmdale, CA. See our hours and directions here.
Zooming effortlessly through freeway traffic at spurts up to 80 mph, the 2011 Kia Optima responded to pedal pressure like a V6-powered performance car.
But the specs confirmed only 4 cylinders, cranking out a lusty 200 horsepower. If you want more performance, you can move up to the 274-horsepower turbocharged version.
Even with all that power flowing from those combustion chambers, the Optima’s new gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine can cover 24 city and 35 highway mpg with a six-speed automatic transmission.
With its sporty new appearance, larger dimensions and outstanding performance, the third-generation Optima represents a bold challenge to some of the most respected names in midsize automation, to wit, the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Honda Accord.
While Optima does not offer a 6-cylinder option, its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is stronger than the V6 of either the Accord or Camry. The base Optima engine is 10 horses stronger than Accord’s 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine and 31 horses better than the Camry’s. base 2.5-liter engine.
But where Optima really blasts past the competition is in standard equipment.
The midlevel EX trim, at the base price of $22,495, provides a trove of features more commonly found at the luxury level, including leather seats.
With a base price of $18,995, the entry-level LX trim is priced comparably to the top-selling Camry but with more power and equipment. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, as are 16-inch wheels and six air bags. You also get air conditioning and power accessories.
EX adds 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, leather-trimmed seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic temperature control, push-button start and auto-dimming rear-view mirror with Homelink and compass.
Priced at $24,495, the EX turbo adds larger front disc brakes, a unique front grille, and wood and metal interior accents.
The top of the line is held by the SX version at $25,995. That 18-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, distinctive lower body trim, high-intensity headlights, light-emitting diode taillights, black leather and woven seat trim, steering wheel paddle shifters and carbon fiber interior trim.
Based on a new midsize platform, the third-generation Optima is longer, wider and lower than its predecessors.
Designed to shed the dull demeanor of the first two generations, the 2011 model features a windswept roofline that connects with a high shoulder line, sculpted flanks and flared wheel arches.
Upscale jewelry includes chrome exhaust tips and alloy wheels.
Inside, the instrument panel reaches toward the driver for a cockpit ambience. A high console with a short shifter enhances the car’s performance personality.
The seats are snug and secure up front and heated in the EX trim. The driver’s seat has six-way power adjustments with the EX trim, while the front passenger’s seat is manually adjusted. A four-way power adjustable front passenger seat comes with the premium package.
The back seats are a bit snug for adults but accommodate kids with room to spare. The low roofline steals a bit of backseat headroom, and the legroom tightens when the front passengers slide the seats all the way to the back.
An AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with Sirius Satellite Radio is standard, as are USB audio input jacks for connecting with MP3 players2 and Bluetooth wireless.
Other standard features include a tilt/telescopic steering column, power door locks, power windows, sun visor extension and a cooling glove box.
EX buyers who pay $2,150 for the Premium Package will get, in addition to the power driver’s seat, a panoramic sunroof with high-gloss B-pillar, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, wood interior trim and center console and metal-finished shifter. The $2,000 Technology Package adds a navigation system with back-up camera and eight-speaker Infinity premium audio system.
In addition to high praise from much of the motoring press, Optima has earned the highest possible crash safety rating in all four tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and has been recognized as a “Top Safety Pick,” the top award handed down by the organization.
Like its South Korean parent Hyundai, Kia trumps all competitors with its warranty covering the Optima bumper-to-bumper for five years or 60,000 miles and for a decade or 100,000 miles on the power train. Roadside assistance is also provided for five years or 60,000 miles.
WHAT’S NEW: All-new third generation, larger, more powerful.
PLUSES: Performance, fuel economy, standard features, warranty.
MINUSES: Snug backseat.
BOTTOM LINE: Powerful threat to midsize front-runners.
“It was for sale and we are always looking for ways to expand,” said Larry Mayle, president of the Rally Auto Group in Palmdale. “We are going to try to substantially grow it.”
The dealership is being re-established on a six-acre site at 438 Auto Vista Drive, a location twice as a big as its previous home. The move was part of a location re-alignment by the Rally Auto Group that included putting all its General Motors brands together. The group also owns a Hyundai dealership, which already has its own building.
“This will enhance the sales of all the manufactures,” Mayle said.
The new dealership can hold between 400 and 500 cars on its lot. The showroom accommodates six vehicles at a time.
The number of workers at the new dealership was not immediately available. Rally has a total of roughly 130 workers.
The work force will be increasing, but Mayle could not say immediately by how many.
Kia announced Monday that its North American sales set a new company record in 2010 with 356,268 cars sold, an increase of 18.7% over 2009.
The company attributed its sales growth to the introduction of four new vehicles - Sorento, Sportage, Optima and the five-door Forte. The company said the new designs have “attracted new and more affluent customers to its showrooms.”
Globally, Kia sold more that 2 million vehicles in 2010, an increase of 26.5% over 2009, the company reported.