Friday, January 14, 2011;
Bottom line: Times are changing. We might be witnessing the beginning of an upset in the world's traditional automotive order. Don't be surprised if companies such as Kia and BYD lead that revolution.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Surprisingly smooth ride and adept handling. Acceleration is highway-competent. You can change lanes without worry.
Head-turning quotient: The car's looks drew rave reviews everywhere it was driven. Congratulations, Kia.
Body style, layout: The Optima SX is a front-wheel-drive, front-engine mainstream midsize family sedan with four side doors and a traditional notchback trunk.
Engine/transmission: The Optima SX comes with a 2-liter, turbocharged, double-overhead cam, 24-valve, in-line four-cylinder engine with variable valve lift and timing (274 horsepower, 269 foot-pounds of torque). It is linked to a six-speed transmission that can be operated automatically or manually.
Capacities: There are seats for five people. Rear seating is tight for three people, more suitable for two. Luggage capacity is 15.4 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons of gasoline (regular is recommended).
Mileage: The federal mileage rating is 22 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on the highway.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); emergency braking assistance; anti-lock brake protection (four wheels); electronic brake-force distribution; side and rear headair bags; and electronic stability and traction control.
Price: The base price of the 2011 Kia Optima SX with turbocharged four-cylinder engine is $25,995. Dealer's invoice price on that model is $24,290. Price as tested is $28,690, including $2,000 in options (onboard navigation, premium sound system, backup camera) and a $695 destination charge. Dealer's price as tested is $26,770. Rebates are available. Check with your local dealer.