2011 Kia Optima
If buying a car that's made in the U.S. is a priority, you'll soon have one more choice. Beginning this fall, the 2012 Kia Optima will be built at West Point, Georgia.
To accommodate the Optima, production at the Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) facility will be expanded, with applications now being taken for a third wave of hiring. In all, according to Kia, KMMG will employ about 3,000, with 7,500 additional on-site and local supplier jobs.
The Georgia plant has a full capacity of 300,000 and already builds the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe. But the Hyundai Sonata, which is closely related to the Optima, is already built in the U.S., in Montgomery, Alabama. Currently, all U.S. Optima models are built in South Korea.
The Optima ranks as one of our highest-rated vehicles. In our full review of the 2011 Kia Optima, which gets an Overall Rating of 8.7, we point to the Optima's handsome exterior, its perky, refined driving feel, and excellent fuel economy as among the many reasons to put this one on your list.
While the meaning of the phrase "made in the U.S." has changed over the past several years, more foreign brands have set up shop in the U.S. for vehicle assembly in recent years, thanks to favorable currency, political, and labor conditions. Currently, Volkswagen is also establishing a major assembly operation at Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Nissan is revamping its facilities in Tennessee for electric-vehicle and battery production.