2006 Kia Optima

Far more buyers of reasonably priced economy-oriented cars are likely to notice the much-improved revamped 2006 Kia Optima midsize sedan.

The new Optima has slicker styling, more power and added safety features. And prices for the slightly larger, more refined new Optima are close to those of the often overlooked 2001-2006 version.

Low prices, lots of standard equipment and an impressive warranty have drawn many to Kia showrooms. For instance, Optima rivals such as the Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac G6 start with similar prices and come with a standard automatic transmission, but lack the Optima's standard safety features.

Such features include no less than six airbags, including front-seat side airbags and newly standard side-curtain airbags. There's also a tire-pressure monitor and anti-whiplash front head restraints.

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THE VERDICT
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