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STYLING | 5 out of 10
New face seems derivative of a lot of other cars
Though all the sheetmetal is new, the '09 Optima still looks as interesting as white bread
Shares its basic design with the Hyundai Sonata
Interior styling upgrades and added stereo features complete the makeover
The Kia Optima lineup gets a makeover for 2009, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com reveal that this mid-size sedan is still a styling disappointment.
The Kia Optima last underwent a major redesign in 2006, but in response to broad criticism of the Optima's style, Kia unleashed a mid-cycle update in the form of the 2009 Kia Optima. Unfortunately, the new looks have done little to increase the Kia Optima's visual appeal. Edmunds contends that the 2009 Kia Optima's "styling allows it to blend seamlessly into any automotive crowd," and Cars.com reports that the "new face seems derivative of a lot of other cars—the headlights look like a Toyota Camry's, while the interplay between the grille and lights recalls a similar pattern on the new Honda Accord." Autoblog reviewers are particularly blunt, claiming that although "all the sheetmetal is new, the '09 Optima still looks as interesting as white bread." Jalopnik does appreciate the upgrades, however, noting that the 2009 Kia Optima is "a definite improvement over the 'only as a rental car' original design." For those who don't value styling as much as the Kia Optima's more redeeming qualities and are still interested in buying one, Cars.com says "trim levels include the base LX, uplevel EX and sporty SX."
Although you can't always judge a book by its cover, you can judge the Kia Optima's cabin styling by its exterior sheetmetal. Edmunds says that the interior is "hardly a vibrant environment." Cars.com, meanwhile, informs that "Kia didn't alter the [Kia] Optima's interior as much as it did the exterior; the most notable change is probably the gauges, now framed inside three binnacles instead of a one-piece display." One surprising review of the Kia Optima's interior comes from Cars.com, where some reviewers make the following observation: "A relentlessly detailed and fastidiously executed interior that shames pricier cars here? Watch out, Kia has caught Toyota (and others) napping."
Despite Kia's best efforts to bring some style to the 2009 Kia Optima, the sedan is still as bland as ever.