• May 10th 2011 at 1:01PM
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2011 Kia Optima 2.0T
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  • 2011 Kia Optima 2.0T front 3/4 view

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  • 2011 Kia Optima 2.0T front 3/4 view

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  • 2011 Kia Optima 2.0T interior

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  • 2011 Kia Optima 2.0T front seats

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2011 Kia Optima 2.0T – Click above for high-res image gallery

The mid-size sedan battle rages on year after year. Perennial kings are dethroned while new challengers emerge boasting fresh styling and a bountiful list of standard features. Consumer Reports launched its June issue today, inside which the institute's testers have pitted four-cylinder versions of the Kia Optima and Honda Accord against each other to determine which is top dog, and then ranked them both against their peers.

As it has here at Autoblog Towers, the 2011 Kia Optima drew big praise from the Consumer Reports crew. In fact, the Korean squeezed out a higher rating than the veteran Honda Accord. It may have only beat the Honda by one point (81 to 80), but this represents a significant win for Kia. The opinion of Consumer Reports is highly valued by a large number of car shoppers, and this victory ought to push the Optima further onto the radar of the American car-buying public. Despite beating the Accord and earning a "Very Good" rating, however, the Optima is still nowhere near the top of the heap in Consumer Reports' ratings of four-cylinder mid-size sedans. The Nissan Altima (a perennial CR favorite) still holds the top spot with a rating of 91, neatly trumping the Optima in sixth place and the Accord in seventh.

One vehicle that didn't do so well in the June issue of Consumer Reports? The 2011 Ford Explorer. Three mid-size sport utility vehicles were rounded up for testing: the Explorer, Volkswagen Touareg TDI and Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Of the 19 mid-size SUVs that Consumer Reports has rankings for, the Explorer came in at 17 with just 65 points. The Touareg TDI, meanwhile, landed in fourth place with a score of 82 and the Highlander Hybrid beat all with a top rating of 89.

If you won't get the latest issue of CR in your mailbox, check out the official press release after the jump for more details.

UPDATE: The information in this article has been corrected concerning which vehicles were compared against each other in the June issue of Consumer Reports and where they ranked overall.
Show full PR text
CONSUMER REPORTS:REDESIGNED KIA OPTIMA NOW RANKS IN TOP-TEN OF FOUR-CYLINDER FAMILY SEDANS

Optima beat Honda Accord in face-off between the two family sedans;
Toyota Highlander Hybrid now most fuel-efficient Consumer Reports' Recommended SUV


YONKERS, NY- The redesigned Kia Optima outpointed the high-selling Honda Accord in a face-off between the two family sedans conducted by Consumer Reports. The Optima now ranks among the top 10 of all four-cylinder family sedans tested by the organization.

The Optima now ranks sixth among the four-cylinder family sedans tested by Consumer Reports, ahead of the Honda Accord and behind the Suzuki Kizashi. The Optima edged out the Accord by just one point in CR's testing. Both vehicles achieved "Very Good" overall scores.

Top-scoring four-cylinder family sedans include the Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry, in that order.

Kia's Optima drew praise from Consumer Reports' engineers for its handling, transmission, controls, fuel economy (25 mpg overall in CR's own tests) and its crash-test results. Its lows included road noise, low rear-seat height, and limited rear visibility.

Consumer Reports also released its evaluations of three midsized SUVs, the redesigned Ford Explorer, the gas/electric Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the diesel-powered Volkswagen Touareg TDI. The Highlander Hybrid outpointed the others and posted an "Excellent" overall road test score. The Touareg came in close behind the Highlander and now ranks fourth overall in CR's ratings of midsized SUVs. The Explorer fell short in this competitive market segment and now ranks 17th out of 19 vehicles in the category.

The June issue, which goes on sale May 10, also features results of a survey of subscribers on independent repair shops vs. car dealers, with independents getting higher marks in satisfaction and a special look at a reader's 2004 Toyota Prius, which traveled some 214,000 miles-yet still delivers similar fuel economy and performance to when it was brand new.

All the reports are also available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org.Updated daily,ConsumerReports is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information.

Consumer Reports has current ratings on dozens of makes and models of both sedans and SUVs. All five newly-rated vehicles were either redesigned or freshened for 2011.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 78 Comments
      chrono00
      • 4 Years Ago
      The last review I've read about the Ford Explorer was last month. The magazine (I think C&D) put the Explorer dead last. One thing that bothered them a lot was the Explorer's traction control system and oversteer. The SUV apparently suffers from a really bad case of oversteer. So, I am not surprised CR as well ranked the Explorer if this was the same issue in their test. The rest of the SUVs in the test ranked as follows: #5 Honda Pilot #4 Chevy Traverse #3 Toyota Highlander #2 Dodge Durango #1 Mazda CX9 They mentioned that the CX9 could drop to second place if and when the Durango gets the new transmission from Fiat, improving its fuel economy.
        Rob
        • 4 Years Ago
        @chrono00
        It was Motortrend. http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/suvs/1105_three_row_crossover_suv_comparison/similarities.html "It's time for an eight-speed. The Durango would have claimed a victory but for an old five-speed slusher."
      Yeah yeah
      • 4 Years Ago
      The headline above is incorrect. The Optima was rated lower than the Camry, The Camry scores 84 (3rd place) while the Optima scores 81 (6th place).
      P H C
      • 4 Years Ago
      I WANT THAT EXPLORER !! I drive a Freestyle now, love it. The New Explorer is an upgrade from from the Freestyle with better ride, quieter, up-styling, 4cycleEccboost, automatically look for street parking spaces and parallel park itself.....Oh! I "LOVE" the MYFordTouch, got to have it...... The one and only, nothing else compare!
      • 4 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        ack154
        • 4 Years Ago
        I have to disagree. It is blatantly obvious that O'Doyle rules... not GM, as previously stated.
        TBN27
        • 4 Years Ago
        I find CR questionable for the fact it.was created by Ralph Nader whom seemed to be out to get Gm Ford and chrysler back in the day. It still serms so now. CR seems to continue to be indirectly biased. I say this for I compare what they say about certain cars and compare it with my experience and end up many times not liking CR's choices.
        4gasem
        • 4 Years Ago
        I own an Enclave which is nothing more than a well optioned out quieter version of the Traverse and I've logged quite a few miles in my parents new Explorer limited and I'd trade for it ANY DAY! It's the quietest SUV I've ever driven and I've driven foreign and domestic vehicles. Performance is also better than the GM versions. Granted, the Explorer has 3 year newer engineering in it. I'd like to say that I am a CAR guy and will NEVER put all my eggs in one basket. I like variety. I have two GM's and one Ford. Life is better with variety IMO.
        • 4 Years Ago
        [blocked]
        Bubba
        • 4 Years Ago
        Just kidding guys, geez. Altima ain't bad but I'd probably go for the Accord, its probably better than the current Malibu but the new Malibu is coming soon.
      • 4 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Randy
        • 4 Years Ago
        Amazing that A: You probably haven't driven one. B: It's a very nice SUV. C: There is nothing wrong with the transmission and D: You're either being paid to post negative things about Ford because they are kicking EVERYONE's arse OR you're bitter because you bought a used Ford that had its arse kicked with 150K on the odo and you're still pissed you had to change the brake pads and oil! I could be wrong but that's my theory(s).
        mandmp11
        • 4 Years Ago
        So, when are you planning on getting one, or any SUV type, car or truck based, or do you drive a 2 door, 1.8L 4?
      Master Austin
      • 4 Years Ago
      CR lost credibility years ago, and in wake of all the Toyota recalls, we have all seen that numerous cars they recommend are known to have reliability issues years after. Remember, this is an initial road test they have set up with specific criteria, and they focus on cheap prices and fuel efficiency....Lets talk about 5 years of ownership with that Kia and lets see how it holds up in comparison to the others. And the other point they do not take into account is depreciation and long term ownership costs. I prefer using JDPowers for that information. If it were up to CR we would all be driving golf karts. Or even better, Any publication that rates a VW high to recommend, knows nothing about long term dependability...
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Master Austin
        [blocked]
        Dest
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Master Austin
        They get reliability data from their customers. What do you want them to do? Lie about the data to appease you? CR remains the best source for collecting large amounts of reliability data. They survey far more people than the likes of JDPower and they actually disclose what types of problems are reported by the surveys and weights them accordingly unlike JDPower.
        Gubbins
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Master Austin
        Agreed--they can be a bunch of squareheads...but that's the publication that people walk into dealer showrooms with so it is in a mfr's best interest to do well on their "rankings".
      Mike
      • 4 Years Ago
      After watching a co-worker go through a Lemon Law case with Hyundai over his 2011 Sonata, I'd never touch one (or Kia). Not only was his car junk and totally unsafe to drive, the other Sonatas he was given as an option to trade for all had the exact same issues as the one he was junking. Beauty is only skin deep!
        Car concepts
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Mike
        That sucks for your friend. My parents have their Sonata GLS for 7 months now and it hasn't needed any kind of repairs. The cabin still has that brand new car smell, no gas fumes. Did your friend try other Hyundai dealerships?
      Bruno Nekic
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why in the world would you ever get an Explorer when you can get a 4Runner?
        Shiftright
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Bruno Nekic
        Because the 4Runner has evolved into an ugly bloated version of itself, and Fords are more reliable and better built nowadays.
        Jac Zobel de Ayala
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Bruno Nekic
        Haven't you heard? Exploders are nice.
      • 4 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Kimosen
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why are we surprised when magazines crown a "new champion" or lambast what everyone else considers a fantastic vehicle? These techniques sell magazines. Consumer Reports, Motor Trend, Car & Driver - these firms do not sell cars, they sell magazines and online subscriptions. If this story said, "nothing to see here, the cars are the same as before and we still think the same thing of them" no magazines or subscriptions would be sold. Hence, the continual "uprising" and "downrising" of vehicles. It's all designed to sell magazines. No wonder they don't release their scoring rubric - then they'd have to justify their scores. It's like getting pulled over for speeding. The cops don't say, "our department's funding was just cut, so we're pulling people over and ticketing them to raise revenue", they say, "we're making the roads a safer place." This is why I trust Autoblog's reviews more than these so called "buff mags" - the site is free to browse and read. Yes, they sell advertisements, but sensationalism isn't the main course.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Kimosen
        [blocked]
      mikeybyte1
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wish CR would publish an issue outlining all 50 tests they do for cars and how each is rated and weighted, by vehicle category. I e-mailed them and asked them how a Corvette and Mazda5 could have the same numerical score. They wrote back and said that they compare cars against each other by class and therefore don't try to compare a Vette to a minivan. But there is still this mystery going on as to how they come up with that final score. It's useless to consumers because they expect you to accept their priority and weightings in evaluation of the total numerical score and ranking. Everyone has different needs, but by summing up 50 test components into a single numerical score, you are left clueless as to what they liked and what they didn't.
        Wisdom Seeker
        • 4 Years Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        Agree completely with mikeybyte 1. "Car and Driver" magazine does a good job of breaking down the comparison and showing the points awarded in each assessment area. Without this the composite score is basically worthless. Every consumer has their own set of priorities. Makes you wonder what CR is trying to hide.
          Serge
          • 4 Years Ago
          @Wisdom Seeker
          C&Ds scoring scheme is simple... int cdScores(){ int score; if(BMW || Accord) score=100; else score=rand()%55; return score; }
      CJ_S4
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't know why the Explorer keeps getting beat up in all of these comparisons. I drove a brand new one on an 800 mile roadtrip and actually thought it was pretty decent. The A-pillar noise that was experienced in the MT and CR comparisons (sizzling sound like the curtain airbag frying) seems to be related to strong crosswinds. It is loud and very annoying. Didn't have any other problems and thought the power from the V6 was more than adequate - It's certainly faster and quieter than my 2011 4Runner, especially at speed. But these are in slightly different peer groups. The other crossover entries must be that good. In other news - Go Kia/Hyundai!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        @CJ_S4
        [blocked]
          CJ_S4
          • 4 Years Ago
          I agree...That's why I said they are "in slightly different peer groups".
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