Mid-Size Car Match-Up: 2011 Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Ford Fusion Page 2

March 10, 2011

Differing from the Hyundai Sonata, the base model Optima, LX is available with either six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Best fuel economy is with the 200-horsepower 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine and manual transmission in LX, with an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city/35 mpg highway. LX automatic and EX trims are just one mpg off in highway fuel economy at 34 mpg. EX Turbo and SX are powered by a 274-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is estimated at 22 mpg city/34 mpg highway.

Inside, the driver-oriented cockpit emphasizes sportiness and performance and is enclosed with wrapped leather and stitch panel. But Optima, just like Hyundai Sonata, also offers features not generally available in affordable mid-size sedans, including heated and air-cooled seats, panoramic sunroof, and smart key remote. Cargo volume is 15.43 cubic feet.

Six airbags are standard, along with electronic stability control, traction control, and hill-start assist. Kia Optima also achieved an overall NHTSA five-star crash safety rating.

The 2011 Kia Optima, like Hyundai Sonata, is covered by a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty.

See this review in TheCarConnection to learn why editors give the 2011 Kia Optima an 8.7 (out of 10) overall rating.

2011 Ford Fusion

All-new for the 2010 model year, the 2011 Ford Fusion continues to provide a variety of models, engines, front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and hybrid models to suit just about any small-size family (of five) looking for an affordable and fuel-efficient mid-size sedan. In fact, Ford Fusion comes in a dizzying array of seven models, ranging from the manual transmission-equipped S to the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Starting MSRP is $19,820 for S and goes up to $38,340 for the Fusion Hybrid.

Outside of the Fusion Hybrid, with its EPA-estimated 41 mpg city/36 mpg highway fuel economy, the Fusion S, powered by a 175-horsepower 2.5-liter in-line four-cylinder engine mated to six-speed manual transmission, achieves the next highest Fusion fuel economy at 23 mpg city/33 mpg highway. Of course, with the base S model, there are cloth seats, manual climate control and not a lot in the way of extra features. But the seats are roomy and comfortable, good head room and foot space for taller individuals, and a tilt and telescopic steering wheel. Move up to SE and you get eight-way power driver’s seat and Sirius Satellite Radio. I4 SEL adds leather trimmed and heated seats and 10-way power driver’s seat. V6 SE and V6 SEL have the 240-horsepower 3.0-liter Duratec FFV (flexible-fuel vehicle) engine.

Sport is in a category all its own, with 263-horsepower 3.5-liter Duratec V6 engine, unique accented leather-trimmed seats and door inserts, leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear deck spoiler, modified sport-tuned suspension, side-rocker moldings, and 18-inch five-spoke painted aluminum wheels. EPA-estimated fuel economy in Sport is 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway. Starting MSRP is $26,895.

Crisp handling, upscale interior, and a slew of standard features and available options are reasons to consider the 2011 Ford Fusion. New for 2011 are HD Radio and the MyKey system. What’s cool about MyKey, standard on all 2011 Fusion models, is that it is designed to help keep teen drivers safe by limiting their top speed to 80 mph, limits radio volume to 45 percent, provides low fuel warnings, and chimes continuously when seat belts are unbuckled.

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