2003 Optima New Car Test Drive
The Kia Optima is a remarkably good car, especially for the price. Kia would like customers to think value rather than cheap, and we'd be inclined to concur. You do get a lot for your money, and unlike early Korean attempts at the midsize sedan class, the Optima displays sophistication in engine and chassis that is fully competitive in its size (and not just price) class.
Kia Optima is based on the platform of the current Hyundai Sonata and shares its engine and suspension layout; no doubt if you like one, you'll like the other. But the Optima shares no body panels with the Sonata and is distinctive in design and features. A rebadged Sonata it isn't.
For 2002, the Optima's optional V6 increased to 2.7 liters. And prices have dropped.
Kia Optima comes in two trim levels, the LX and SE. With the option of a V6 in either, that figures out to four Optima models.
Optima LX with the base 149-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine lists for a remarkable $14,899; that's less than last year. It comes complete with air conditioning, rear defroster, AM/FM stereo cassette, power windows, mirrors and locks and front-seat side airbags.
Specifying the 2.7-liter V6 adds 29 horsepower and a refined four-speed automatic transmission along with 15-inch alloy wheels with P205/60HR15 Michelin tires, four-wheel disc brakes, and cruise control. However the price for the Optima LX V6 goes to $17,499.
That's more than the Optima SE with the 4-cylinder, listing for $16,549 and coming complete with the larger alloy wheels and tires, heated mirrors, premium 120-watt audio system with cassette, CD and a power antenna, an upgraded center console, real wood trim accents, interior and exterior chrome door handles and chrome insert bodyside molding, and a moonroof.
Going whole hog with the SE V6 sets the buyer back $18,849 and includes everything in the SE and V6 packages. That price, incidentally, is more than $1,000 less than last year. Adding antilock brakes, offered only with the V6 costs $795, and the leather package, an SE-only option, is $995. Floor mats, for any models, cost an extra $80, and the destination charge is $495.
Kia's 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty and 5-year/60,000 mile basic warranty are included, as is a 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance plan.