I have a challenge for everyone. Go to your local Kia dealer, and take the Optima SX Limited for a test drive, and then give me a call. When you do, explain exactly why you want to spend $10,000 more for a BMW 3-Series.
This car is simply that good. Now, you should know that Kia is now owned by the Hyundai folks, and the Optima shares its platform and running gear with the gorgeous Sonata. That particular car has simply transformed the way we think of Korean cars. Well, to be honest, I like the Optima better.
For starters, look at it, for crying out loud. This is a clean, tight, almost German looking shape that wouldn't be out of place on an Audi or a Bimmer. In black, you can multiply the "oh my gosh,” factor by 10.
Inside the cabin is more upscale than frankly, anything in its class. It is well laid out, and screwed together with almost European care. The materials are a far cry from the plastic school lunch boxes that used to be the norm in vehicles from the Korean peninsula.
Under the hood is a 245-hp, 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. That will give you a 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds according to Car and Driver magazine. All the while you're doing that, you are beginning to wonder if the heat hasn't melted the road and made it sticky because this car just flat handles.
Power goes through a 6-speed automatic to make its way to the 18-inch tires, and they then just refuse to let you make a mistake.
The car gets 22 miles per gallon in the city, 32 highway and does it all for just under $37,000. That number includes sunroof, navigation system, leather interior and some other luxury doo-dads.
As I write this, I'm also staring at the sticker for a loaded BMW 328i, costing $50,000 plus, with fewer options. I'll be waiting for your call.