2011 Kia Optima GDI 2.4 from North America


Sharp looks and great performance!


Please read the post. Nothing is wrong with the car, this is a personal review based from a rental car.

General Comments:

First of all, I don't own the car, but please keep reading.

Due to the nature of my work as a long distance courier, I am required to use my own car. Recently my 97 V6 T-Bird has been in the shop, so I had to rent a car to do my work.

My review will consist on comparing my car vs riding in this Kia for a couple weeks or so. Not sure if it qualifies as an official review, but I hope it may help to those of you that may want to take a look at the car.

So I went ahead and rented a brand new Kia Optima 2011 with just 2000 something miles on it. At first glance I was impressed with the style of the car, very aerodynamic shape and modern looks.

I have driven this car for one week so far, I am just starting my second week with it. I drive 533 hwy miles daily, with a tiny bit of city driving.

I am 6'1 tall, so right away I appreciated the huge space available for the driver. I can stretch my legs all the way to the front end without any issues, and I feel comfortable in the seat for the several hours that I am driving it on the road. It certainly has more space than my T-Bird. Seats felt a bit more stiff though than my Tbird, but I have enough space to move around to get some relief for my legs and feet. The cockpit has the same driver oriented style as the Tbird. I have driven other cars that felt like riding a motorhome, but this car has all the controls at the disposition of the hand. The quality is great, even the plastics are top notch quality! The interior is a mix between luxury and sports. In this regard I felt like driving my car. The designers did an awesome job.

Handling is good, but doesn't take curves as good as my Thunderbird, but this is a family sedan, nonetheless handling is not bad at all. The steering wheel feels solid and responsive, although as reported with the Hyundai Sonata, this one also has the tendency to drift to the left. I believe Kia is, or has addressed the issue under warranty. Kia and Hyundai are sister companies, and the Sonata and Optima are basically the same cars.

I am excited about the performance of this car. Get it close to 6000rpm and those 200HP come alive, easily going from 60 to 80 in almost no time. It will push you a bit to the back of the seat. No neck breaking here, but not bad at all for a 4 cyl!

I would use the semi-manual stick shift to bring it back to 4th gear and get more available power quickly. It just doesn't have any issues passing other cars on busy highways.

Disable the Eco mode if you need some performance, it is a great feature for gas savings, but at the expense of performance, so disable it if you are driving on a busy road.

Gas savings are awesome. I can fill the 18.5 gas tank for $55 to $60 (Alabama gas prices/$3.55-$3.62, may 2011). Gets around 34-35mpg at 70mph at 75F-80F, or near 40mpg driving it at 60mph, same conditions. Get it to the hwy and expect a performance between 26-28mpg at 80mph. I can put in $10 bucks, and according to the trip computer meter, I can travel for 100-110 miles to empty. I love it!

On the 2500+ miles that I have put on the car since I rented it (total 5000+ miles so far with the miles the car had), the car hasn't developed a rattle or noise. Feels solid all around. But we will see if this changes.

Other things that I found interesting with the car:

Windshield fluid tank holds about 2 gallons! Great for a long, long, very long cleaning session. I have so much water to spare that I can even use it to spray other cars, mostly those annoying tail chasers!

Engine compartment seems spacious and easy to maintain. Battery is easy to replace compared to other silly designs I have seen (Chrysler Concorde), although expect trouble when replacing the alternator and serpentine belt when your warranty expires if you are a do it yourself-er, as the engine parts seat pointing at the fender wall, and I am clueless on how you'd change those important items when they go out; would you have to lift the engine or remove the passenger fender?

The realtime MPG gauge needs some more numbers to make it more accurate, since it goes from something like 30 to 50mpg with no numbers in between to give you an exact amount of mpg used. I had to use the average MPG indicator to give me more detailed info.

I keep getting comments and questions about the car. Such as:

1. Is it a Lexus?

2. What kind of car is that?

3. It looks like a movie car.

4. Looks like a $30k car!

5. Kia has improved!

6. That's a sharp car.

Overall I am impressed with the car, and I am starting to like it better than my Tbird! I forget that I am driving a Kia, this car feels like a super european car.

It is too early to tell whether or not I will have mechanical problems. So far this rented car is solid and behaving like a champ with all the mileage I am putting in it.

Rent it for a week or a day and take it for a ride, and see what you think about it.

Not so sure about getting in debt for this car or any car. But the price is right on spot, wait a few more months and maybe it will go down a bit more. Right now this car is still new, you don't see many on the roads, which make it kind of unique haha.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 24th May, 2011

28th May 2011, 10:06

I forgot to mention a couple things. Lights are good, not HID power here, but excellent visibility on the road. But put on high beams and all trucks and cars on incoming traffic will complain right away LOL. Even when I have the low beams, some people think that I have my high beams on! I have to flash them to let them know otherwise.

Seats. You may want to have some seat covers at hand, since they seem to get dirty quickly due to the color. Lots of maintenance required here if you want to keep the car clean.

Other good points about the car. I love the door noises (or lack of), it's like closing the door on a refrigerator, so soft and noiseless.

The car has a nice roaring when you step on the gas pedal.

Windows. I guess you pay a trade off for nice aerodynamic windows. Visibility is not that great, and there are blind spots when looking at the back.

8th Dec 2011, 15:58

Hmm, that's quite an inaccurate comparison. In my opinion, even a 30 year old Mercedes rides better than '97 Tbird.

2011 Kia Optima LX base 2.4 GDI from North America


You've come a long way Baby!!


This was a brand new car. Obviously no problems were experienced at this point.

General Comments:

I found myself with the opportunity to spend an afternoon with a new 2011 Kia Optima base automatic. I was very impressed. The word "base" gives a false impression. The base Optima has virtually every power, safety and comfort feature you could want as standard equipment, as do most new mid-sized sedans.

The interior was very comfortable, with power driver's seat, dual zone automatic temperature control, cruise, tilt and enough electronic gadgets to please most computer nerds. The interior fit and finish was very high quality. It was better than Camry or Accord, and on a par with the class-leading Ford Fusion. The instruments and controls were well-placed and had a solid, quality feel. Entry and exit was effortless, and didn't require excess contortions as some cars do. The doors and trunk had a very solid, quality feel closing. This is something I have noticed lacking on the Camry and Accord.

The 2.4 4-cylinder gas direct injection engine is rated at 200 horsepower. It had better acceleration than the Camry or Accord 4's, but it honestly did not feel any more powerful than Ford's 175 horsepower Fusion I-4. I have noticed in the past that Kia's advertised horsepower seems a tad lacking in real world go. Nevertheless, this car is up to any driver's needs. Passing and merging are no sweat at all. Both Kia and Hyundai are to be commended for dropping the totally pointless V-6 gas guzzlers. No modern mid-size sedan requires a V-6.

The 6-speed automatic was crisp and clean. It downshifted easily on demand with no lag, and shifts were as smooth and seamless as Ford or GM's. It never seemed to linger too long in any gear, or hesitate on downshifts as Toyota is noted for.

The handling was far more sporty than Camry or Accord (which are aimed at an older, less sport-minded buyer) and on a par with the crisp-handling Fusion. Cornering was a joy, and the ride was firm but not harsh. It was similar in feel to the Fusion.

The trunk opening was large enough to accommodate large suitcases, and the trunk's volume seemed adequate for most needs. As with most cars in its class, the rear seats conveniently fold down to create a long cargo area.

Styling is greatly subjective, but I find the styling to be very tasteful and clean. As with most mid-sized cars sold now, no appealing colors are available except for possibly the "spicy red", which is neither spicy nor really red. The only other colors are black, white and ugly muted shades of gray. For some reason only sporty cars come in real colors. This factor has been a major deal-breaker with me on several cars, as I do not care for non-colors. Only a few mid-sized sedans come in colors now.

One other styling feature that horrifies me in all new cars, is the beautiful but totally unprotected sides of the car. One visit to a parking lot and that smooth, beautiful side will have ugly, very noticeable dings. I will never drive a car without a protective side molding... EVER. The dealer can order color-keyed side moldings for most cars, and I assume the same is true of Kia as well. You can order them and install them yourself in 15 minutes for around $60, or you can pay the dealer about $500 to do it. Either way, DO IT.

Pricing seemed competitive with other similar cars. You get a lot for your money. The Optima is a very high-quality car with virtually everything standard. Both Kia and Hyundai have come a very long way since their introduction. They now easily surpass all Japanese brands in build quality, and they are closing in on the Fusion and Malibu. Long term reliability is yet to be determined, but there is some security in their limited (and please be aware it IS "limited") 10-year/100,000 mile warranty.

The only flaw I saw in the car was probably an electronic glitch. The fuel mileage computer never indicated over 12.5 mpg. That is ludicrous on a car that is EPA rated 24 city/34 highway, so I assume it was a computer error. I flogged the living daylights out of an I-4 Fusion, with flat-out take-offs, forced downshifts galore and lots of swerving through city traffic. The mileage computer on it never showed lower than 21.1 mpg.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 7th April, 2011

8th Apr 2011, 22:19

Your title and review suggest you like the car, so why did you put 'no' under "would you buy another car from this manufacturer?"

11th Apr 2011, 16:14

I'd buy this car in a heartbeat... IF I lived in South Korea. My family has a policy of only buying vehicles that have 75% or more of their components made in the U.S. The Optima has fully 97% of its components made by non-U.S. manufacturers. I don't want 97 cents out of every dollar of my car-buying money going out of the U.S. If I ever become a citizen of South Korea, buying a new Optima will be number one on my "things to do" list. As it is, I am an American, earn my money in America, and have no intention of sending 97% of it to any other country.