Enthusiasts and the media like the 2013 Kia Optima for many good reasons: dramatic, European-influenced styling, luxurious upscale features, affordable price and impressive fuel economy. While the Camry and Accord once ruled the driveways of the middle class, the Kia Optima has stolen their thunder -- even trumping their strong resale value thanks to the transferable 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

However, there are some counterpoints to all this praise. For example, the backseat may be lacking for some. Currently, the Chevrolet Malibu offers more rear-seat legroom. Another complaint has to do with the sloping roof, as it cuts into the headroom for taller rear passengers.

Optional features for various trim levels really take the 2013 Optima to the next level. Even though the base Optima comes standard with a 6-speaker audio system, along with a USB input and Bluetooth, the mid-level EX trim and up all offer a push-button start, leather seats and wood trim. Not enough? Take a look at the SXL trim that comes with voice-activated navigation, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, backup camera and Nappa leather seats.

Two 4-cylinder engines and a hybrid setup are available for the 2013 Optima, including a naturally aspirated direct-injection 2.4-liter that makes 200 horsepower and a turbocharged 2.0-liter that makes an outstanding 274 hp. Both engines come standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel economy is really close with all engines, even with the hybrid version. AutoTrader's test results for the hybrid version were just slightly better than the standard 2.4-liter's ratings of 24 miles per gallon city and 35 mpg highway. The turbocharged motor receives a strong 22 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.

Prices for the 2013 Optima start at only $21,350 for the base LX. A fully loaded SXL or Limited trim will tip the scale at around $35,000.

For a family car, the 2013 Kia Optima is hard to beat. With excellent power and fuel economy, plus lots of features, the Optima may be the newest ruler of suburbia.

AutoTrader

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