Kia Optima
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Kia
Overall: More than simply a makeover, the Optima has plenty of new sheetmetal that’s stretched over an equally new platform.

Drivetrain: A trio of four-cylinder engines of the turbo and non-turbo variety provide plenty of choice; six-speed manual transmission and seven-speed automated manual.

Until recently, the top dog in Kia’s sedan kennel was the Optima, but this mid-size sedan now finds itself sharing quarters with the larger Cadenza and larger-still K900 luxury models. Still, the Optima more than holds its own with buyers, especially so now with a new-generation model hitting the showroom floor. Exterior styling, an Optima strong suit, hasn’t been drastically altered, but the car’s overall dimensions have increased slightly due to a new platform that gives it a bit more length and width. The most important changes have taken place beneath the hood. The base 2.4-liter engine has been tweaked for fuel efficiency’s sake and now makes 185 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque, slightly less than the previous 192/181. Newly optional is a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that’s rated at 178/195. At the top end, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder produces 245/260, down from the previous 274/269 ratings. The 2.4 and 2.0 powerplants are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions, but the turbo 1.6 receives its own seven-speed automated manual transmission. Note that the hybrid hasn’t been included in the makeover process, but that will likely happen sometime in 2016. With four trim levels — base LX, EX, SX and SXL — the Optima cuts a wide swath 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 game-on for Kia in the mid-size sedan arena.

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