South Korean manufacturers Kia and Hyundai have posted sizable sales gains in the United States the last two years, and both are expanding their lineups for 2001. Kia already added the Rio and Spectra subcompacts, and by December it intends to introduce the midsize Optima sedan.
The Optima is a clone of the front-drive Hyundai Sonata and will come to Kia showrooms as a result of Hyundais ownership of Kia. Hyundai, Koreas largest automaker, bought Kia last year when the company fell into financial straits. Kia maintains a separate brand identity and dealer network.
Kia vehicles now come with the same warranty as Hyundais. The warranty covers the whole vehicle for five years/60,000 miles, major powertrain components for 10 years/100,000 miles and corrosion for five years/100,000 miles. Owners receive free roadside assistance for the first five years.
Optima prices will be announced in November.
The four-door Optima borrows some of the Sonatas styling but has a unique nose with a cross-hatch grille as its most distinguishing difference from the Hyundai version. Like the Sonata, it has a 106-inch wheelbase but it is nearly an inch longer at 186 inches a few inches shorter than the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.
Two front bucket seats and a three-place rear bench give the Optima seats for five, and a folding rear seat will allow expanding cargo space beyond the trunks 13-cubic-foot capacity.
Standard equipment on the base LX model includes air conditioning and power windows, locks and mirrors. The SE adds a power moonroof, keyless entry, cruise control, a 120-watt stereo with a CD player, a power drivers seat and other features.
Under the Hood
The Optima will use the same 149-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 170-hp 2.5-liter V-6 engines as the Sonata and will offer a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions. Antilock brakes will be optional.