by Mike Tucker, Jr
The 2011 Kia Optima has been a primetime performer thanks to its appearance in the winning slam dunk during NBA All-Star weekend and its label as “The Official Vehicle of NBA.” S0 in sports fashion I’ll recap the Optima EX as a motorized highlight reel with loads of talent. By talents, I mean features like a panoramic roof stretching front to rear, heated and cooled leather seats in front and heated rear seats, front door mood lighting, a cooling glove box for drinks and a cool exterior that catches the eye as you drive down the lane.
This Korean import maybe a little awkward in the way it’s viewed to those who prefer the name recognition and polish of a 3 series BMW, for instance, but when the Optima hits the pavement, it’s a maverick!
Mind you, it is no means a champion yet but is Nowitzki-like in its versatility at game time. It can mix it up inside the Beltway or down low in choppy DC streets. The Optima can play outside also, as I tested on a recent trip with the kids just beyond Philly at Sesame Place. On the five-hour roundtrip journey, both the kids and I were quite comfortable. We loaded the lofty trunk and made great time. What we lacked in DVD headrests, we made up for with imagination and fun driving games.
Although very similar outwardly to the Hyundai Sonata, a fully-loaded Optima, which includes navigation, Bluetooth and back-up camera, comes in at nearly the same price as the feature-skimpy base model Sonata Limited. A steal, if you ask me.
With that said, the Optima doesn’t outperform all the competition, but it puts on a great show and pushes others to be better. Young, flashy, and more than capable with all its features, the one question I can’t answer testing it for only one week is, “How will it last?” I guess we will have to wait until next season.
Price Tag: $22,495 base ($27,440 tested)
Power: 2.4L 4 Cylinder 200 horsepower
Transmission: 6-speed Sportmatic automatic
Drivetrain: Front Wheel drive
Fuel Economy (mpg): 24-city/34-hwy