Kia Optima Refresh… Coming

kia optima refresh 8230 coming

Kia's Optima sedan is the half- forgotten sibling of Hyundai's far more popular Sonata. In fact, in February Kia only moved 2800 Optimas. But let's not be double negative. Just because consumers don't keep the Optima in mind doesn't mean the folks at corporate have forgotten about it, too. Just as we told you the Sonata was getting a refresh with upgraded engines and a nicer interior, the Optima is on deck for its own revisions. Navigation will become an option, for the first time in a U.S. Kia product. The corporate mothership tends to play it safe, so you can expect the same engine upgrades to 175 and 249hp for the four and six-cylinder models, plus upgraded transmissions. Otherwise, details are sparse and pictures are sparser (and tiny). We'll get more of both as we get closer to the Seoul auto show in April.

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  • L47_V8 L47_V8 on Mar 14, 2008

    Two things: 1-I've been in a 2009 Sonata rental already. It was a basic V6 model with only a moonroof, auto lights, and a power driver's seat (I think it's a Sonata GLS V6 w/ Convenience Package). The thing even had wheelcovers. What a sleeper. It's a quick car - the old Sonata was already quick and the more powerful engine only helped. The big thing was this: the interior was probably the nicest sub-$35,000 one I've ever been in. Very, very nice. The gauges are beautiful, the switchgear feels spectacular, the design is attractive, and everything fits together very, very well. It's the first '09 we've had (Hertz rental), it was from Florida, and it had 1300 miles on it. 2-I love the Kia Optima. I think it's one of the most under-rated sedans on the market. It's attractive (I've always been in love with the 2002+ Infiniti Q45, of which the Optima is derivative), very well-priced, economical, and has plenty of upgradeable features. The only thing that's always irked me: the EX sport leather interior option is only available in black, and as such is only available with a select few exterior colors, and that doesn't include Pearl White, my personal favorite color.

  • Justin Berkowitz Justin Berkowitz on Mar 14, 2008

    @L47_V8 My initial exposure to the Sonata was as a rental car, too. It's a case of fleet sales done right, because it exposes people to cars they might not otherwise think to check out when shopping. I had no idea the 2009s were out with the new interior already. That's awfully early, but it's good news. Very glad to hear you thought it was well built - I'll probably check it out for myself this weekend.

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Mar 14, 2008

    I am seeing a lot of Kias on the street. Is Korea the new Japan and Japan the new Germany?

  • L47_V8 L47_V8 on Mar 15, 2008
    Justin Berkowitz : March 14th, 2008 at 4:06 pm @L47_V8 My initial exposure to the Sonata was as a rental car, too. It’s a case of fleet sales done right, because it exposes people to cars they might not otherwise think to check out when shopping. I had no idea the 2009s were out with the new interior already. That’s awfully early, but it’s good news. Very glad to hear you thought it was well built - I’ll probably check it out for myself this weekend. I've always felt Hyundai-Kia's fleet sales strategy is good. They have limits on which cars go to fleets. For instance, you'll never find a loaded Sonata, only GLS models with the Convenience package, some with four-cylinder engines and some with V6s. You'll never be able to rent a Kia Rondo EX, only LXs. Same with the Optima, Spectra, Sedona, Sorento, and Rio. The only well-optioned rental Hyundai I've seen was a completely loaded Entourage minivan, and it was a licensee car (meaning a small fleet bought it, most likely from a local dealer, as Enterprise does). The Hertz and Avis corporate fleets have only a limited range of choices when it comes to optioning their Hyundais, meaning renters get to experience the basic vehicle and then can go to their dealer to option one out completely. I still think it's telling just how many Hyundais and Kias we rent, especially after hearing the Optima's not-so-great sales numbers (we seemingly rent as many of them as fleet-queen Sebrings and G6s), but I suppose Hyundai has to sustain their sales growth somehow in a slowing market.

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