Mid-Size Car Match-Up: 2011 Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Ford Fusion

March 10, 2011

Consumers in the market for a great-looking mid-size sedan that’s highly fuel-efficient have a lot of good choices. Here at FamilyCarGuide, we’ve selected two redesigned 2011 sedans and one all-new last year for our mid-size car match-up: 2011 Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and Ford Fusion. Besides exterior style and fuel efficiency, each seats five and has its own brand of consumer appeal and all are Top Safety Picks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). One other customer-friendly highlight is affordability. In their base models, they’re all under $20,000. And, should consumers want to drive green, each also offers a hybrid version for 2011 (although two are yet to be introduced).

2011 Hyundai Sonata

All-new for 2011, the Hyundai Sonata offers consumers more-than-expected for the price. Five models are offered: base GLS, SE, SE 2.0T, Limited, and Limited 2.0T. Even the base model GLS -- the only one offered with a manual transmission -- has standard Bluetooth and XM Satellite Radio. But it’s the base GLS that gets the highest-rated fuel economy of 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway from a 198-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Standard safety features include six airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes (ABS). In addition to being named an IIHS Top Safety Pick, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata achieved an overall five-star crash safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS is $19,395.

Move up to the sport-tuned SE (starting at $22,795) and the horsepower bumps up two to 200 in the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, although it’s still 198 horsepower in Limited (starting at $25,495). An optional 274-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is available in SE and Limited. The only transmission in SE and Limited models is six-speed automatic with Shiftronic and steering-wheel paddle-mounted shifters. Fuel economy is 22 mpg city/35 mpg highway (2.4-liter) and 22 mpg city/33 mpg highway (2.0-liter turbo) in both SE and Limited.

Although it’s easy to be impressed by Sonata’s exterior design, the interior garners a lot of praise as well – especially the roomy back seat, which is good news for families. In fact, Sonata is so roomy inside that the EPA classifies it as a large car. But as for seat comfort, most reviewers recommend consumers opt for leather seats (leather-trimmed in SE, leather-appointed interior in Limited), considering them a far better choice than the cloth seats in GLS. Cargo volume is 16.4 cubic feet.

The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is covered by a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty, considered the best in the industry (along with Kia).

Scheduled to arrive in the first quarter 2011, the all-new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is expected to achieve 37 mpg city/39 mpg highway. Pricing has not yet been released.

There’s more information in this review of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata from TheCarConnection.

2011 Kia Optima

Boasting a complete redesign for 2011, the Kia Optima mid-size sedan, while sharing platform and drive trains with corporate sibling Hyundai Sonata, has its own unique look and distinctive features. Three trims are currently available: LX ( in manual transmission and automatic transmission), EX (and EX Turbo), and top-of-the-line SX. Starting MSRP is $18,995 (LX M/T), up to $25,995 (SX). The 2011 Optima Hybrid, available in the spring, features a parallel drive system and state-of-the-art lithium polymer battery. No pricing is available yet for Optima Hybrid.

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