The Kia Optima remains one of the most affordable and value-packed—yet anonymous-looking—mid-size sedans, aiming at families who really want a new car despite a tight budget. The Optima continues to favor comfort and frugality over styling or sophisticated technology options, but it keeps its target audience in mind with top-notch safety features. Last year Kia gave the Optima a slight design refresh and a revised engine lineup.
Inside and out, Kia keeps it simple with the Optima’s design. The 2010 Optima has nice proportions as a whole, but up close its details appear a bit derivative, with details picked up from past Camrys, Accords, and the like. Cabin appointments weigh function over form, with chunky rotary knobs and a straightforward instrument panel, let down only by full materials.
There’s only one sensible way to order the 2010 Kia Optima: with the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. It makes a healthy 175 horsepower, while the optional 2.7-liter V-6 makes just 194 horsepower. With the V-6 a bit heavier, the difference between the two engines is virtually indistinguishable—and the four-cylinder gets better fuel economy (22 mpg city, 32 highway). A five-speed manual comes standard on the four-cylinder models, but others get a good five-speed automatic transmission. The Optima clearly prefers comfort over performance, though it handles well enough for most commuting and shuttling needs. In addition to their price and fuel economy benefits, four-cylinder models ride and handle slightly better than those with the V-6.