The Kia Optima has certainly been the major success story of the midsize sedan offerings. The second generation Optima, which was produced from 2005 through 2010, had modest success, selling 27,382 the last year it was produced. Then Kia redesigned and re-engineered the Optima, and ?poof?, sales went up more than 300 percent the next year, then another 180 percent the following year. Last year Optima sales reached 155,817. That number is still short of the Accord and Camry, which are selling around 400,000 annually, but the Optima has become a player just as we predicted it would several years ago.
Optima ratings have climbed and has it has won some major awards and, but its greatest appeal is in the styling which comes from Peter Schreyer?s design team. Before heading Kia design, Schreyer was responsible for styling icons like the Audi TT, Audi A6 and Volkswagen New Beetle. His influence is now across most of the Kia product line and it has moved the company from blah to brilliant.
The first three models get a nice 192-hp, 2.4-liter direct injection four-cylinder engine that produces very good performance and an EPA fuel economy rating of 23 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.
On the open road the Optima is well balanced, precise and feels connected with a nimble attitude and good control. It?s hard to believe it?s a front-wheel drive car — there?s no discernible torque steer or wavering, even when turning and accelerating. It?s easy to see why the Kia Optima is so popular.