KIA Optima
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As is the case with a number of Kia models, the Optima is on the receiving end of styling tweaks along with some new features; Hybrid version remains untouched since its mid-model-year updating.


All engines have four cylinders in regular, turbocharged and hybrid flavor, although the Hybrid’s gasoline-electric system gets a stronger battery pack that generates increased torque.

The Optima drops to second place in Kia’s sedan hierarchy now that the larger Cadenza has arrived. However Kia is keeping the Optima fresh for 2014 with an updated front end with a slightly enlarged grille. In back there’s a revised trunk lid and a lower bumper area where the exhaust exits. Inside, the seat fabrics are upgraded and the dashboard updated with a larger high-resolution touch screen for the optional navigation and communications systems. Finally, the Optima offers blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alerts when backing up. The Optima shares the related Hyundai Sonata’s range of four-cylinder engines: the entry point is a 2.4-liter unit that produces a very healthy 200 horsepower, while an optional 274-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine quenches your thirst for thrust. The Optima Hybrid’s electric motor makes 47 horsepower (up from 40) supplied by a 47-kilowatt lithium-polymer battery pack. Although total system output has dropped to 199 horsepower from 206, available torque has increased to 235 pound-feet from 195. Note that a six-peed automatic transmission is used on the Hybrid as well as with both gas engines. Fuel economy for the Hybrid remains nearly the same at 35 mpg in the city and 39 mpg highway, better than the 2.4 gas engine’s 24 city/35 highway ratings. The hybrid can also travel at speeds of up to 60 mph without assistance from its gas-engine partner. With four trim levels — base LX, EX, SX and SX-T — the Optima ranges far and wide to satisfy a variety of budgets. Throw in the car’s classy looks along with a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty and it’s a lock for a variety Optima customers.

Base price (incl. destination): $22,200
Type: Four-door sedan
Base engine (hp): 2.4-liter DOHC I4 (200)
Optional engines (hp): 2.0-liter DOHC I4, turbocharged (274); 2.4-liter DOHC I4 with electric assist (199, hybrid)
Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
MPG (city/hwy): 24/35 (2.4)
Safety: Front airbags; side-impact airbags; side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; brake assist; hill assist control; traction control; stability control
Weight (lb.): 3,220