The Kia Optima
With the first-generation Optima, Kia reached beyond its usual crossover and hatchback offerings to take on the mainstream mid-size sedan market. From 2000 to 2005, the Optima was substantially the same as the Hyundai Sonata. It was offered with a four-cylinder engine, and wore a small grille that differentiated it from the Sonata.
For the second generation, the 2005–2010 Kia Optima had styling that more distinctly separated it from its Hyundai cousin. In 2008 it received a revised look as well as updates to equipment including Bluetooth and satellite radio. It remained a compact to mid-size sedan, but in the second generation it added a V-6 option.
These models came with either a 175-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or a 194-hp, 2.7-liter V-6. The four-cylinder returned better fuel economy.
The 2011-2012 Kia Optima
The 2011 Kia Optima was an all-new, third-generation car. The new sedan is longer, wider and lower than before. The Optima shares the Sonata’s powertrains, including a 200-horsepower, 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine, a 274-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four, and a new Hybrid model. Fuel economy ratings for the base engine are as high as 35 mpg highway, and up to 40 mpg for the Hybrid.
The Optima’s standard and optional features lists are stronger than for those of most other mid-size sedans in this price range. Bluetooth and a USB port are included even on base models, the mid-level EX trim gets dual-zone climate control and a smart-key system, and top options include Infinity audio, full leather upholstery, and heated rear seats. A navigation system is available, as is UVO, an enhanced system for smartphone connectivity.
The 2013-2014 Kia Optima
No major changes were made to the Optima for 2013, although late in the model year the Hybrid model saw some drivability updates and mileage improvements, with its EPA numbers now coming in at 35 mpg in the city and 39 highway. The four-door was given a small revamp that included some aesthetic tweaks up front, upgrades to the infotainment offerings, and cross-traffic alert as well as blind-spot monitoring.
The 2011–2013 Optima Hybrid was one of a group of cars that have been found to have overstated fuel-economy numbers. Kia initially submitted figures of 35/40 mpg and 37 mpg combined to the EPA, which allows automakers to self-certify fuel economy. On a confirmation check of several vehicles, the EPA found the Optima Hybrid’s actual tested fuel economy to be 34/39 mpg or 36 mpg combined.