THE VERDICT

Just a few years ago, the Kia Optima would have been a genuine competitor to the American sedans in the family car category. Unfortunately for Kia, companies like Ford and General Motors have made tremendous strides in recent years with cars like the Fusion and Malibu. As a result, the Optima suffers from being too little, too late.

POSITVE

Solid new design
Quiet and comfy ride
Fully-loaded for the price of a base-model competitor

NEGATIVE

Sloppy ride quality
Poor interior design and materials Less than the sum of its parts

We would, however still consider it an option if your list of potential cars includes the Mitsubishi Gallant, Chrysler Sebring or Pontiac G6. After all, it’s not all bad, remember, power and fuel economy (with the four-cylinder) are on par with the competition.

What may make the Optima attractive to certain buyers is that you can purchase the well-equipped automatic four-cylinder LX model for $18,950 – thousands less than an Accord, Camry or Malibu that has fewer options. In short, it’s a car for someone who wants all the bells and whistles but can’t (or doesn’t want to) afford the same package on another vehicle.

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