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2001 Kia Optima Overview
Kia, which not long ago sold only the subcompact Sephia sedan and the small but sturdy Sportage SUV, is expanding. Kia added the Spectra sports sedan and the Rio mini four-door sedan during calendar year 2000. Planned for mid-calendar year 2000 are the Sedona minivan and a wagon version of the Rio. Kia's sales growth in the U.S. directly reflects the addition of models, so flying into the breech once more, Kia fires a broadside at the Camry/Accord class with the Optima. Toyota and Honda sales won't notice, but Kia's incremental sales gains will continue. More important to us is that the Kia Optima is a remarkably good car, especially for the price. Kia would like customers to think "value" rather than "cheap," and we'd be inclined to concur. You do get a lot for your money, and unlike early Korean attempts at the midsize sedan class, the Optima displays sophistication in engine and chassis that is fully competitive in its size (and not just price) class. Kia Optima is based on the platform of the current Hyundai Sonata and shares its engine and suspension layout, and no doubt if you like one, you'll like the other. But the Optima shares no body panels with the Sonata and is distinctive in design and features as well. A rebadged Sonata it isn't.