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Pricing The Kia Optima: Starts At $18K, Could Climb To $30K, Worth It?

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On: Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 1:20PM | By: John Welch

Pricing The Kia Optima: Starts At $18K, Could Climb To $30K, Worth It?

We have found ourselves in a sort of puppy love with the Kia Optima. The Hyundai Sonata is great, but we prefer the Kia's slightly more angular, imposing appearance. We have reported, breathlessly, on both cars, and have enjoyed every second we have spent with them. The Kia gets the final nod because of its driver-centric interior, sportier suspension, and overall aggression.

Having said that, let's option out an Optima and see if it is as value-conscious as it is stylish. After popping over to Kia's website, we find ourselves confronted with several different models. The LX is the cheapest, and only model available with the manual transmission, and the SX is most expensive. I can tell you right now, unless it were a second car, I would not buy this car until a manual is offered with the turbo engine. Shifting is that important to me.

We will start with the LX, try and find an acceptable Optima for as little as possible, then move on to pricier models in search of the perfect Kia Optima.

Our 'Spicy Red' (as is the case with most automakers these days, all other color options are some awful shade of silver or brown) Kia Optima LX starts at a thrifty $18,995 and comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. The LX is $20,495 with an automatic, but we don't care about that now, do we? For your hard-earned 19 grand you get a pretty well optioned sedan. SIRIUS audio, auxiliary jacks, stability control, and hill-start assist are all standard on the manual-equipped Optima LX. After destination charge our total so far is $19,690.

The only options available are a series of floor mat and cargo selections, we go with all-weather floor mats ($115,) and a cargo/trunk mat ($95) since I have a growing family and will need to keep may carpets child-barf free. Our total for the Optima is now $19,900. A excellent deal, but I need more grunt. Just for fun let's option out an SX model.

Strike one, no manual option. Why wouldn't Kia's six-speed work with the 2.0 liter turbo motor? Right away I'm thinking about a VW GTi, but let's give the Optima SX a chance. There are more color options for the SX's skin, though the best is still Spicy Red. The interior involves a complicated pattern of cloth and leatherette that I have already sampled; it is pretty damn nice. Other standard options for the SX include the six-speed auto, with requisite flappy paddles, a sportier suspension, 18" wheels (fugly!) a redesigned body kit, dual zone climate control, SuperVision Meter Cluster (or "trip computer" if you prefer), and, of course, carbon fiber interior trim.

There are several option 'packages' available, though they all come bundled together for a little over $4,000. This is fantasy land so I go ahead and select that package that might help me forget about the automatic transmission. "SX Technology and Premium Touring Package". This package includes navigation, complete with back up camera, an 8-speaker Infinity audio system, the now fashionable 'double' sunroof, 4-way power passenger seat, heated and cooled front seats and heated rear seating. A very well equipped car the Optima SX now is.

But it is also now very expensive. With these options the car is now $30,995, a hefty price tag for anything Korean and front drive. For that money I would just go snag a Hyundai Genesis and then ignore how cramped the kids are in the back. Heated seats don't matter when the motivation is coming from a 300-horse V6; especially when channeled through a manual transmission. I would consider this car, if Kia was able to knock 3 thousand off by replacing the automatic with the six-speed. It would be cheaper, appeal more to the enthusiast Dads it is trying to snare, and might get better mileage. That last comment is total bull, the Kia automatic bests the manual mileage-wise. So what?! For thirty grand i want to select my own gears while my bum is being heated and cooled. I want my 274-horsepower sedan to reach sixty in less then 6 and a half seconds. I want my Korean auto to be envied for its prowess, not for its price tag.

The Optima is an excellent car; it just needs a few adjustments in the 'options and price' department.

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RoadKill | 4:49PM (Thu, Dec 16, 2010)

Not a bad looker at all from Kia, but I'm afraid that 30K is a bit high...


imwithcoco | 6:25PM (Mon, Dec 20, 2010)

The Optima is stunning in person but I agree with you. 30k for a Kia is still a hard sell, especially for those of us that remember how horrible Kia was before Hyundai took control of the company.

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