KIA Optima: Fuel Efficient Cars are Gaining Market Share

Driving an economy car at times requires a frugal owner to sacrifice significant design character, when stubby, awkward, small body shapes must accommodate four passengers with space for an acceptable comfort level.
Add the volume, weight and structure for a drive train sufficient to provide reasonable performance, and the resulting body design can be less inspiring than most like in their personal transport.
Recently, such manufacturers as Hyundai, KIA, Honda, Mazda, VW, Audi, GM and Ford have demonstrated clearly that such sacrifice is unnecessary.
KIA and Hyundai have aced their competition for years by using the world’s most notable car designers in Italy, an uncharacteristically rational decision for so many automakers who egotistically believe they can make “do-it-yourself” design development capture the world auto market millions. Honda is an exception to this axiom, for only a rare few have succeeded in all of automotive history. Our streets throng with so many ugly-buggy results of such attempts.
The KIA Optima has the continental design sensitivity of the classic ‘50s, combined with current aerodynamic principles and equally impressive driving characteristics. Throttle response of the Optima is quick and sure, and likewise, steering. Directional control through the power rack and pinion steering is not only quick, but as surefooted and road-worthy as any car in its class, and relatively forgiving of somewhat less than perfectly executed maneuvering.
Driving this car is so pleasurable it shows the realistically risky, hard work of truck and SUV operation to be anything but fun and makes the resurgence of interest in cars easy to understand.
With the 2.4 liter, 16-valve double overhead cam four-cylinder engine, driving through a seamless shifting five-speed Sportmatic transmission, the Optima seems always to have the proper power at its disposal when cornering and accelerating. The P215/50R17 tires and 17-inch alloy wheels make the four-wheel disc, antilock brakes feel as if the Optima were an exotic sports-racing machine with a price tag many times its $23,435 sticker. Best yet, the 17 to 25 miles per gallon city and 25 to 37 mpg on the highway makes it even more appealing.
With its five star crash rating, the Optima makes good sense as well as good dollars and cents, drivewise. ?



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