New Kia Optima Launches Today, Hybrid Coming Soon

It is hard to believe how far Hyundai/Kia has come in such a relatively short time. The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is a sharp looking car available with both turbocharged and hybrid engines that deliver great gas mileage, especially for their price segment. Now Kia, the cheaper kid brother of Hyundai, is getting its own version of the Sonata, an all-new Optima.

Just like the Sonata, the 2011 Kia Optima will be available with turbocharged and hybrid engines. The hybrid is expected to be unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show.

This week was the official launching of the Optima, and Kia is happy to spread the word about its peppy new Kia. While not as “swoopy” as the Sonata, the Kia has a more aggressive, muscular look to be sure—clearly reflecting the design mantra of Peter Schreyer, who came to Kia in 2006 after 25 years at Audi. It seems that Hyundai is truly on the path to remake Kia as a younger, sportier brand—next step: I’d like to see a Genesis Coupe-based Kia. The Optima will however be available with a 274 horsepower turbocharged 2.0 liter engine that gets 33 mpg on the highway.

The hybrid Optima, meanwhile, will share platforms with the Sonata. While not on sale yet, the Sonata Hybrid reportedly gets 39 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. It can also travel to speeds of up to 62 mph on the electric motor alone, whereas many other hybrids still can’t get over 50 mph on the electric motor.

What impressed me the most though is the list of standard and optional features on a Kia. From the cockpit-like driver’s console to the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, this car seems to be built for people who enjoy driving. A CD/MP3 player is standard, as is a USB plug, and that is on the base LX model (which is also the only model offered with a six-speed manual transmission). Upgrading to EX offers entertainment features, adjustable power seats, and even a panoramic sunfroof. On a Kia.

Personally, the sporty SX model with the turbo engine sounds good for me. Black leather trim on the inside, faux-carbon fiber, leather wrapped steering wheel. A fast, classy Kia. Too bad you can’t get the manual transmission with the turbocharged engine.

No prices yet, but if the Sonata is any judge, it should have an MSRP of between $18k -$25k.

I think its a looker, but what about you guys? You can check out the full press release on the next page.

Source: Kia Motors

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.