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

The 2011 Kia Optima appears to be a quantum leap improvement over the 2010 model, with improved aesthetics, powertrains and technology. But do all those improvements come at a cost? According to Kia, the 2011 Optima will start at $18,995. That's $1,000 more than the outgoing model, but still $1,000 or so lower than many competitors' midsize offerings, and lower still than its cross-Korean cousin, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. With the base model comes standard power window and door locks, Sirius Satellite radio and a USB interface for your iPod.

Move up to the LX trim level with a six-speed automatic transmission and the starting price is $20,495. The LX comes standard with alloy wheels, cruise control and an eco mode for more efficient driving. The EX is the next step up the luxury ladder with leather seating surfaces, an eight-way power driver's seat, dual zone climate control, 17-inch wheels and push-button start.

If horsepower is your thing, the EX Turbo supplies 274 horsepower, a revised front grille and special interior accents for a reasonable $24,495, which in this case actually costs a little more than the Sonata Turbo at $24,145. The top-end Optima, the SX, starts at $25,995. Standard features for the SX include a host of interior upgrades, 18-inch wheels, revised lower trim, a sport-tuned suspension, HID headlamps and LEDs out back.

$18,995 is a very reasonable starting price to pay for a vehicle that appears to have gone from being a rental fleet afterthought to a midsize contender in a single product cycle. But what about resale value? The residual value experts at ALG, inc. claim that the 2011 Optima will retain 53 percent of it's value after 36 months, a 66 percent increase over the outgoing model. That's not at the resale level of a Honda Accord, mind you, but a definite step in the right direction. Hit the jump to read over Kia's official press release.

Photos copyright ©2010 Chris Paukert / AOL

[Source: Kia]
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IRVINE, Calif., November 16, 2010 – The all-new Kia 2011 Optima has been turning heads since its unveiling earlier this year, and the stylish and performance-oriented midsize sedan is sure to attract more attention after Kia Motors America (KMA) announced today the official manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) will begin at $18,995. Meanwhile, ALG, Inc.4, the industry benchmark for residual values and a leading provider of data and consulting services to the automotive industry, has assigned a residual value of 53-percent of the 2011 Optima's original MSRP for 36 months of ownership. This strong residual value is a 66-percent improvement over the previous generation Optima and represents KMA's best-ever increase.

"The all-new and highly anticipated Optima delivers an outstanding combination of value, eyecatchingdesign and premium-level amenities that will continue Kia's ongoing brand transformation and attract new buyers to our showrooms," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO, KMA and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia. "With an aggressive starting price and a strong ALG rating, the 2011 Optima provides consumers with an outstanding value proposition and builds on the increased awareness and consideration our recent new products such as the Soul, Forte, Sorento and Sportage have generated."

Arriving in showrooms in the coming weeks, the next-generation Optima advances Kia Motors' design-led transformation with completely new and stunning design characteristics, highlighted by a dynamic and streamlined profile that conveys elegance and athletic confidence from every angle. The all-new Optima's three new powertrains – including the brand's first-ever turbo and hybrid engines(available next year) in the U.S. – deliver a class-leading combination of power and fuel economy while the sedan's spacious cabin is outfitted with the latest technology features and luxury amenities.

The all-new 2011 Optima, which stars as the Official Vehicle of the NBA, is available in three trims, LX, EX and SX. The aggressively priced Optima LX six-speed M/T, with a starting MSRP of $18,995, offers a wide array of convenience and luxury features including an AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system with SIRIUS® Satellite Radio capabilities with three months complimentary service5, power windows, power door locks, dual exhaust with chrome tips, a cooling glove box and auxiliary USB audio input jacks for connecting MP3 players6 and Bluetooth®7 wireless technology connectivity with steeringwheel mounted voice activation controls to enable hands-free operation for compatible mobile phones. In addition, all Optima models feature an extensive list of standard safety equipment, including six airbags8 (dual advanced front and front-seat mounted side as well as full-length side curtain). Moving up to the LX six-speed A/T, starting at $20,495, adds alloy wheels, cruise control and an Active Eco System for fuel-efficient driving.

Beginning at $22,495, the Optima EX offers upscale amenities in a mid-level trim, including 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, leather trimmed seats, eight-way power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic temperature control, push-button start and auto-dimming rear view mirror with Homelink® and compass.

Priced at $24,495, the Optima EX turbo is powered by Kia's first-ever turbo engine in the U.S., a 2.0-liter274-horsepower Turbo GDI engine that delivers up to 34 mpg9, and adds larger front disc brakes, a unique front grille, and wood and metal interior accents.

Positioned at the top of the Optima model range, the SX package starts at $25,995 and delivers a spirited combination of performance, styling and value. The viscerally satisfying 2.0-liter turbo GDI engine is standard and exclusive content includes 18-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, unique lower body trim, HID head lights, LED tail lights, black leather and woven seat trim, Supervision™ meter cluster, steering wheel paddle shifters, carbon fiber interior trim, metal pedals, and illuminated door scuff plates.

Like all Kia vehicles, the 2011 Optima is equipped with a high level of standard safety features. In addition to six airbags, additional safety equipment includes front active headrests, side-impact door beams, height-adjustable front seatbelts with pre-tensioners, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Four-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a Traction Control System (TCS), a Brake Assist System (BAS) and Hill Assist Control (HAC) also are standard.

Design-Led Transformation and Product Line Kia Motors is in the midst of a dramatic, design-led transformation, which has been delivering dynamically styled vehicles in several important segments at exactly the right time, contributing to the brand's continued gains in U.S. market share. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, safety features and new technology such as the soon-to-come UVO powered by Microsoft®10 in-car hands-free entertainment system. The launches of the 2011 Sorento CUV, the first vehicle to be assembled* at Kia's first U.S.-based manufacturing facilities in West Point, Georgia, the dynamic 2011 Sportage compact CUV, sophisticated 2011 Optima midsize sedan and versatile Forte 5-door hatchback further enhance the lineup.
Kia's model year 2011 vehicle line includes the Sorento CUV, Sportage compact CUV, Optima midsize sedan, Soul urban passenger vehicle, Forte compact sedan, Forte 5-door compact hatchback, Forte Koup two-door coupe, Rio sub-compact sedan, Rio5 sub-compact hatchback and Sedona minivan.

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