Search engine optimization is a very powerful tool for getting your website or blog on the top ranking. Optimization also includes the utilization of various other related tools and research. Well why are we discussing this on an automobile blog? You see its got nothing to do with optimization. Its rather all about the name Optima and yes I am referring to the 2011 Kia Optima that I have for you here on a test drive. The Korean company, not many know, is one of the subsidiaries of Hyundai Motors. Now you would wonder how Hyundai with its Sonata and Kia with its Optima would compete in the same market? Well, both are projected as having different images. The former is more of comfort oriented whereas the latter is performance oriented.
The 2011 Kia Optima has been given the complete make-over so much so that it bears no resemblance to its earlier existence. The 2011 Kia Optima now gets a European approach to its design theme and dare I say, German approach. The latter is because the Optima’s designer used to work for Audi and he has put in some of the Audi touches, noticeably so in the interiors. But first the exteriors. Thankfully so, Hyundai didn’t try to influence the Kia designer with its fluidic concept theme and so the Optima ends up looking like a concept car. It has got that angel wings type grille flanked by warping head lamps with black inserts along with quadra indicators. The fog lamps look like big pieces of glass just thrown into the inserts. Like BMW, the Kia badge lies sprawled on the hood. From the sides, the slits present just under the wing mirrors convey the sporty intent of this car. The ORVMs have the turn indicators embedded in them. For the lower variants, Kia has provided 16 inch steel wheels however for the top of the line variant available with me, it were 18 inchers and with flush-designed rollers. Cool option and unique to the Kia. It side profile shows it to be somewhat similar to the earlier generation Honda Accord. The roofline however tapers more to the rear giving it a coupeish stance. After BMW made the Hofmeister kink famous, most of the other manufacturers have adopted it. The rear seems to be inspired both from the Sonata and BMW. The twin tail pipes have been borrowed from the Sonata whereas the LED tail lamps are BMW stuff.
Cut to the interiors and the 2011 Kia Optima seems more like a down market Audi, if there can be one. The interior quality is better than that found in Sonata and like I mentioned before, Audi cues are abundant here. The steering wheel looks as if there is a big gap and is more in the face kinds. Beware short drivers. The steering wheel has got all kinds of buttons on its and makes it look more like a Ferrari wheel with all those controls on it. The flowery kind of instrument binnacle houses the speedometer and the tachometer at the two extreme corners whereas a central display takes precedence with all the information that one would require from this car. The black matte plastic however takes away some of the good feel from this cabin. The AC vents also look archaic. The drilled aluminium pedals also project the sporty intent of this car. As far as goodies go, the 2011 Kia Optima in its most loaded variant gets a tilt-and-telescoping heated steering wheel, a four-way power passenger seat, panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control with rear AC vents, an eight-speaker Infinity sound system, a navigation system plus rearview camera. Front seats as expected were comfortable however the rear seats don’t have much to speak in terms of head room due to the coupe like stance. So if the shorters one should beware of the steering wheel upfront, the taller ones should be worried about messing up their hair styles at the rear. Boot space at 15 cubic feet is good enough for most of the chores but ain’t the class best.
Since the 2011 Kia Optima is more of a driver oriented sedan, its engineers have programmed the steering wheel to be a bit more heavier than the light floating one found on the Hyundai Sonata. The shock absorbers also have been tuned to be on the firmer side. The firmer shocks do actually transmit more shocks into the cabin than the soft ones on the Hyundai Sonata. But then the real deal is when you actually get to some chicanes or curves which would justify the use of the heavy steering and the firmer shocks. I personally feel that most of the buyers in this category would opt for the Hyundai due to its cosseting ride. Moreover due to the high profile tyres, the road noise is bit more than what can be felt in a Hyundai Sonata. The steering wheel however sometimes likes to play truant and goes lifeless at city speeds. It demands more of an effort to turn at parking speeds.
2011 Kia Optima Photo Gallery
The engine options in the 2011 Kia Optima are the same ones that are found in the Hyundai Sonata. This means that the 2.4 liter gasoline engine with 4 cylinders finds its way under the hood of the 2011 Kia Optima. This engine produces 200 Hp of peak power and about 186 pound feet of torque. Barring the base model, all other variants get the 6 speed auto transmission whereas the base one gets a 6 speed manual. For the top of the line SX variant that I had, the engine option was a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder turbocharged one producing 274 Hp of peak power whereas the torque figure reads as 269 pound feet. I don’t have the timings for the 0-60 mph run but then going by the rush that the car was giving, it seems to be within 7 seconds and more closer to the 6 seconds mark. On the top of the line turbocharged variant, the brakes are also uprated and hence have more stopping power. There is ABS, EBD and traction control. On the safety front, the car boasts of 6 air bags, hill assist, side intrusion beams and collapsible steering column.
EPA estimates put the 2.4 liter engine at fuel efficiency figures of 24 mpg for the city with 34 mpg for the highway. This is with the auto gearbox whereas the manual just increases 1 mpg to the highway figure. For the performance oriented 2.0 liter turbocharged engine, the EPA figures are 22 mpg in city and 34 mpg on the highway. This is the best in its segment and only at par with the Hyundai Sonata which has a similar output and engine configuration.
The test drive completed and I am happy that the 2011 Kia Optima is what I though it would be. Fun to drive with funky styling to it and more so a SULEV with the fuel economy even beating some small entry level sedans. The Optima is offered in 4 trim levels namely the LX, EX, EX Turbo and SX. The 2011 Kia Optima price starts at $ 18,995 and going upto $ 32,778 with all the options ticked. Well worth the money, you bet it is.