By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
If midsize sedans were contestants on a dating show, the previous-generation Kia Optima would have been among the first would-be suitors kicked off. Bland to behold inside and out, and generally uncompetitive in every category but average selling price, the old Optima was easy to overlook. But things have changed in a big way for the 2011 model year. The Kia Optima is now one of the most stylish, most amenity-laden midsize sedans available, and qualifies as a viable, attractive alternative to the segment's heaviest hitters.
The 2011 Kia Optima backs up its standout styling with driving dynamics and an equipment list that outclass most of its competitors'. And price is still a strong suit.
The 2011 Kia Optima is as all-new as it gets, offering sharper interior and exterior styling, new engine options (including a turbocharged variant) and new tech-savvy features
Driving Impressions We were impressed with the 2011 Kia Optima's balance of sport and comfort. Smooth and quiet on the highway, the Optima also corners as confidently as most anything you'll find...in the category. We were only able to drive the EX trim level with the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter engine, but it did not disappoint. The engine was responsive and very smooth with more than enough power for passing and going up steep hills; its fuel-sipping qualities are an added plus. On the inside, the seats remained comfortable over long stretches, and the driver-centric dash was a welcome arrangement for making climate/audio adjustments on the fly.
If the 2011 Kia Optima isn't the sportiest, most stylish midsize sedan out there, it's pretty close.
Turbocharged 2.0-liter engine
Who needs a V6 anyway? This four-cylinder has 274-horspower and an EPA highway estimate of 34 mpg.
The interior of the 2011 Kia Optima takes a different approach than other cars in the segment as its driver-focused center stack gives a cockpit-like feel. Leather touches abound - on leather-equipped models - and we appreciated the soft-touch materials on the dash and door panels. Taller passengers might take issue with the Optima's rear headroom.Exterior
We call it "futuristically bold," but most would call just plain "different." From the cross-hatch front grille sandwiched between wrap-around headlights to the sweeping chrome arc that extends back to the sleekly styled rear end, the car exudes a luxurious feel that makes it look more expensive than it is. What makes it more interesting is the high beltline and sloping roofline that give the car a sporty profile. Depending on the trim, the Optima is equipped with a choice of 16-, 17- or 18-inch wheels.
Every 2011 Kia Optima offers Bluetooth phone connectivity, iPod/USB audio connectivity, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and a cooling glove box that keeps drinks chilled. As for safety, the Optima comes with an impressive array of features including six airbags and electronic stability control. Like other base-priced models in its class, the entry-level Optima comes with 16-inch steel wheels and six-speed manual transmission.
Optional equipment highlights include a panoramic sunroof, heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, Infinity sound system, touch-screen navigation system and back-up camera. In addition to a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the top-of-the-line 2011 Kia Optima SX offers a lightly sport-tuned suspension and more aggressive styling cues.
Offering more horsepower than the previous-generation Optima's V6 – and far better fuel economy – the new 2.4-liter engine is a welcome addition. It boasts more power and better fuel-economy than other cars in the category, while those wanting more power can opt for a turbocharged 2.0-liter (EX Turbo and SX trims only). Both engines are offered with a six-speed automatic, while the base-trim (LX) offers a six-speed manual.
2.4-liter in-line four cylinder
200 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
186 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/35 (manual), 24/34 (automatic)
2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder
274 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
269 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750 - 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/34
By gringolalo on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 68,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Good quality construction. Good power. Headroom inadequate causes seats to be too low.Electronic steering is too restant at highway speeds. Causes hand and arm fatigue. Looks great"
By DJ on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 47,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Drive performance, gas mileage, features"
Cons: "Front end dings easily from normal wear"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"It's fun and exciting to drive. A very good looking car. I've gotten a lot of compliments on it. I just need to get winter tires since the car came with performance tires which have very little traction. The front hood does tend to get dinged up rather easily just from regular wear and tear. I would suggest getting the special hood cover protection package if you can. It makes a big difference. Once there are dings in the hood, you can't add this feature later. I am very happy with this car!"
By gautham on Sunday, July 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 260overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Responsive, excellent handling, great styling"
Cons: "Center arm rest, uVO eservices needs work"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I've had this car for exactly a week now. I am excited every time I get into this car, its responsive, handling is great, and of course love the styling, both exterior and interior. I got the premium package with leather seats, panoramic sunroof, premium sound system with UVO eServices/navigation. I had a Acura TL before this and I liked the TL but I am starting to like the optima better. There are a couple of things that made me not give it a 10 : 1. Center Arm rest does not adjust, its too far behind. If you are like me who drives with one had and would like to rest the hand while holding the wheel, then you will be uncomfortable. 2. uVo eservices needs some work, reading SMS does not work on Android, I called support and they said it only works on windows phones as its a windows based platform. Voice recognition needs work as well. It has an Apps page, but only 1 app available which is disappointing. But if u have an iphone, then you can activate Siri which is great, unfortunately i have an android. My wife has an iphone and we've tested using Siri and it works."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Mike Mc on Thursday, July 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 61,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Great car. Lots of compliments. I just wish it got better gas mileage. I do so much city driving that my avg mpg is 22. On the hwy it is 34."
By Jamie on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great gas mileage, easy to handle, sporty, smooth"
Cons: "Small back seat area, not great in snow"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought my 2011 Kia Optima last year and I love it! It is stylish & sporty and the gas mileage is fantastic! I filled it up for $45 and drove from Missouri to Indiana without refueling! The only downside is that the back seat was definitely not designed for tall passengers, and it didn't do very well in the deep snow because it sits so low to the ground. Other than those two flaws, it's one of the best vehicles I've ever owned!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Frank on Sunday, July 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This vehicle is a sleeper.fast,comfortable,loaded with amenities all at great price comparatively to other vehicles in its class."
5 people out of 9 found this review helpful