2011 Kia Optima vs. Its Competition

2011 Kia Optima
Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor

All in all, this new, more exciting Optima no longer feels like a stripped down sedan delivered explicitly for those who need low monthly payments.

It's a genuine rival to more engaging mid-sizers like the Mazda6, Nissan Altima, and Ford Fusion, and less so to the Hyundai Sonata and the understated Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Malibu.

The Mazda6 is still the sportiest of the bunch, with a choice of four-cylinder or V-6 engines; the V-6 is sweet and strong, but the base four-cylinder model isn't as quick or fuel-efficient as the Optima.

That's the case with many of the base engines; the base Accord and Camry both come with engines that feel reasonably quick off the line but can run out of steam in highway passing or with a full load.

Neither of those models comes as well-equipped as the Optima.

The Malibu is about the same size as the rest, but it feels the most mature, with a great, settled ride and a 'big car' interior.

Finally, the Hyundai Sonata is closely related to the Optima and essentially has the same engine, though its style is entirely different; it rides a bit softer but doesn't steer or handle as well in our opinion.

The Nissan Altima is one other worthy rival, but it's due to be replaced next year.

2011 Kia Optima2011 Kia OptimaBrowse Used Listings2011 Chevrolet Malibu 4-door Sedan LS w/1LS Angular Front Exterior View2011 Chevrolet MalibuBrowse Used Listings2011 Hyundai Sonata 4-door Sedan I4 Auto Limited Angular Front Exterior View2011 Hyundai SonataBrowse Used Listings2011 Toyota Camry LE2011 Toyota CamryBrowse Used Listings
Quick Specs
8.6
Kia simply gets it; basic doesn't have to be boring, and the 2011 Kia Optima shows that mid-size sedan shoppers don't have to settle to design boredom or a lack of features.
7.8
The 2011 Chevrolet Malibu isn't edgy or high-performance, but it has everything that most mid-size sedan shoppers seek.
8.6
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata takes some smart styling and performance risks to raise its profile.
6.8
The 2011 Toyota Camry isn’t at the leading edge in any way, but it remains one of the smartest mid-size sedan picks.
MSRP From   
$19,200$21,975$19,395$20,195
Gas Mileage   
22 MPG City / 39 MPG Hwy22 MPG City / 33 MPG Hwy22 MPG City / 39 MPG Hwy20 MPG City / 33 MPG Hwy
Engine   
Gas I4Gas 4-CylGas I4Gas I4
EPA Class   
Midsize CarsMidsizeLarge CarsMid-Size
Style Name   
4-Door Sedan 2.4L Manual LX4-Door Sedan LS w/1LS4-Door Sedan 2.4L Manual GLS *Ltd Avail*4-Door Sedan I4 Manual (Natl)
Drivetrain   
Front Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveFront Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity   
5555
Passenger Doors   
N/AN/AN/AN/A
Body Style   
4 Door Sedan4 Door Sedan4 Door Sedan4 Door Sedan
Transmission   
ManualAutomatic w/ODManual w/ODManual w/OD
Detailed Spec Comparison
 2011 Kia Optima vs. 2011 Chevrolet Malibu2011 Kia Optima vs. 2011 Hyundai Sonata2011 Kia Optima vs. 2011 Toyota Camry