By the numbers

The Kia Optima is a five-seat mid-size segment passenger car that has an interior that the EPA will probably consider a full size interior.

Longer, lower and wider than the vehicle it replaces, it is the result of design work from Frankfurt, Germany, to Irvine, California, as guided by Kia design director Peter Schreyer – formerly of Audi fame. Hence the new found sense of style.

Utilizing the company’s design facilities in Irvine, the Kia staff picked pieces from some of its rivals to make a car that is as intriguing as it is new. A direct-injection engine adds power where there was none before, and future models will go further with turbocharging and Hybrid engine design. Of course, the Optima draws most heavily from its platform mate, the Hyundai Sonata.

The Optima is staged to go head to head with several of the industry leaders, namely the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Honda Accord. Of course, Kia (and Hyundai) can’t ignore the fact that the Sonata and Optima will both be on many buyers’ shopping lists.

The Optima aims at the sportier end of the market, so buyers might do best to check out lower-trim offerings like the Audi A4, Mazda Mazda6 and even the Saab 9-3, which the Optima bears a squinting similarity to from some angles.

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