I’m a product of the 1970s, and as a result I was just the right age to remember when Kia came on the scene in 1992 (available for sale 2 years later), the first Kias were cheap to buy but fairly cheaply made as well prompting the running joke was that Kia meant: “Korean, Inexpensive, and Awful.” Fast forward to 2011; Kia/Hyundai products are on an impressive roll, sporting competitive looks and competitive features without the sting of a large price tag. Could the new Optima Hybrid be the frugal shopper’s green alternative to the mainstream Camry and Fusion or even the Lexus HS250h? Let’s find out.
Offering everything from the Accent subcompact to the Equus large luxury sedan, Hyundai covers a lot of territory. With gas, turbo, and hybrid engines, and basic, sporty, and luxury trims, the Sonata stakes out much of the midrange sedan segment. Which leaves Kia and its new Optima midsize sedan…where? Mercury to Hyundai’s Ford? Not if Kia and chief design officer Peter Schreyer (of Audi TT fame) can help it.
The Korean word for ‘five’ sounds like “oh,” as in, “Oh, Snap!” or “OMG.” So in Korea, that makes Kia’s new K5 a “K.O.,” at least in name. But does Kia’s new Camccord fighter actually land a knockout on the all-important D-Segment, or is it a mere win by decision?
Quick, want to guess what the single piece brings more traffic to TTAC than any other? Thanks to an early Korean-spec test (don’t worry, further tests of the US-spec model are forthcoming) and the blessings of good Google rankings, our 2011 Hyundai Sonata review has been our single biggest source of traffic over the last several months. But getting a review out early isn’t the only reason so many folks are finding their way to TTAC by way of the Sonata: people are researching the car like crazy. Kelly Blue Book lists the Sonata as its number four most-researched vehicle, as does Edmunds.com, indicating that it’s poised to play with the perennial chart-toppers from Honda and Toyota. Meanwhile, Kia still has yet to make the jump to mainstream prominence, although its version of the Sonata (still unfortunately named Optima) could be an important step in Korea’s bid to make inroads on the US market. Certainly its Peter Schreyer-designed lines won’t have anyone confusing the Optima with a decontented Sonata.
Perhaps you’ve seen the advertisement: an Optima battery survives the rigors of a demolition derby, then goes into the vehicle taking it’s owner home. But is it pure advertising hyperbole or is there something to the claim? To find out I tested the Optima Red Top and Yellow top batteries in situations ranging from daily-driving to that demolition derby-in-denial, the 24 Hours of LeMons.