If you're shopping for a midsize sedan, you've got to add the 2011 Kia Optima to your list. It's all new and looks nothing like the previous version. The Optima's fresh, more stylish look gives this Kia a modern yet more substantial look. The interior is completely new as well, with comfortable but supportive seats, a great looking dash and tons of compelling options. And yet Kia has managed to keep the price reasonable even if you add lots of extras. The base model starts just under $20,000 and a very nicely equipped EX will cost about $25,000. The real surprise is how much fun the Optima is to drive, there's an edge to the car's ride and handling that makes it feel like a more expensive sporty sedan rather than an economy car, yet the car is still comfortable around town and on the highway.

And for those who still think buying a Kia is some kind of risk, Kia backs the Optima up with a very impressive warranty.

There's no shortage of really good mid-size sedans; Ford, Honda, Toyota and many others have excellent choices. But if you want something a little different and maybe a little more fun without spending a lot more money, here are five reasons to buy the 2011 Kia Optima:

 

1. Styling

This is easily one of the best looking midsize sedans at any price. The front end looks mildly aggressive with pulled back headlights accenting a wide, flat hood. The dual exhaust outlets, sweeping roof and super cool wheel choices on the EX and SX models help the Optima stand out in a sea of similar looking sedans. This is the first Kia that might actually get parked front and center when you hand the keys to the valet.

2. Lots of Choices

From the affordable base LX model to a fuel-sipping hybrid as well as two different turbocharged models, there's an Optima for every preference and budget. The absolute, ultimate, totally loaded with options Kia Optima SX will cost about $30,000. Thirty grand might sound like a lot for a Kia sedan but we're talking tons of desirable features like navigation, push button start, Infinity sound system, rear parking camera, sunroof, heated and cooled seats, 18-inch wheels, turbocharged engine – and the list goes on from there.

3. Sporty Attitude

From the base LX to the sporty SX, the Optima combines responsive handling with terrific highway manners. The LX and EX versions of the Optima come with a 200 horsepower, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine. Acceleration is more than adequate and the Optima never feels underpowered. Opt for the turbo SX model and you get a very impressive 274 hp, turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. 0-60 mph takes about 6.5 seconds. Although the Optima isn't really a true sport sedan, it is very fun to drive and gives the driver just enough feedback to keep the drive interesting.

4. Fuel Economy

You'd expect the hybrid Optima to get great fuel economy and it does – about 40 miles per gallon on the highway. But the even the powerful turbo models get decent fuel economy with 22 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The EPA estimates 26 mpg for combined city and highway driving. Non turbocharged Optimas are about the same, but combined fuel economy improves by one mile per gallon.

5. Warranty

By now, everyone who owns a TV knows about Kia's 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. That covers primary components like the engine and transmission. But all Kia vehicles also come with a 5-year, 60,000-mile basic warranty that covers most everything else. Of course wear items like tires, oil and brakes are excluded. There's also a 5-year, 100,000-mile warranty covering body corrosion or rust. Finally, all Kia vehicles come with a 5-year, 60,000-mile roadside assistance plan that can help you if you need gas, get a flat tire or your car becomes disabled. It even includes reimbursement for expenses resulting from a breakdown that happens away from home.

Even if you've already decided against Kia, take the Optima for a test drive it's a surprisingly good car. Its stylish look, wide variety of options, great fuel economy, sporty attitude and super long warranty are just five reasons to buy the all new 2011 Kia Optima.

 

author photo

Brian Moody has been an automotive writer and presenter for more than 10 years. He has contributed to such media outlets as CNBC, Fox Business, the Today show, Speed TV, Edmunds.com and KTLA in Los Angeles. He currently covers the automotive industry and reviews new cars for the nationally syndicated Car Concerns radio show.

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