Special Coverage

New York Int’l Auto Show

Kia Motors America says customers will have the choice between three powertrains with its new Optima midsize sedan.

The ’11 Optima will offer the 2.4L 4-cyl. gasoline direct-injected engine, already on sister brand Hyundai’s ’11 Sonata, as well as a 2.0L DI turbocharged engine and a hybrid-electric powertrain.

The 2.4L engine makes about 200 hp, while the 2.0L turbocharged DI engine, available on the Optima’s SX model and mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, is expected to churn out 274 hp.

Early next year, Kia will introduce the Optima Hybrid that will employ a 2.4L gasoline engine mated to an electric motor.

Kia promises the Optima will deliver “class-leading power and fuel economy,” compared with ’10 and ’11 midsize sedans currently on the market.

Kia says key styling elements of the Optima include a raked cabin, sweeping chrome accents and flared wheel arches.

“The all-new Optima is a new strand in Kia’s growing design DNA, with a blend of simple and fluid lines and elegant but uncomplicated shapes that draw attention to the eye in much of the same fashion as a perfectly tailored fine Italian suit,” Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors Corp. chief designer, says in a statement.

The Optima grows in length and width from its predecessor, and its wheelbase increases 2.9 ins. (7.4 cm).

MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspensions are standard, both using coil springs and anti-roll bars for responsive handling, plus comfort under harsh road conditions, Kia says.

The ’11 Optima is available in three trim levels, LX, EX and SX.

On LX models, buyers get standard chrome-tipped dual exhaust, turn-signal indicators on the outside mirrors, 16-in. steel wheels, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, power windows and door locks and an air-conditioned glove box.

Optima LXs with automatic transmissions feature cruise control and an eco-driving indicator. The LX is the only Optima grade to offer a 6-speed manual transmission, Kia says.

Included on the Optima EX are fog lights, heated exterior mirrors, 17-in. alloy wheels, 8-way power driver’s seat and push-button start. Also standard is Kia’s UVO by Microsoft in-car communication and entertainment system.

The sporty Optima SX has high-intensity discharge headlights with auto leveling, light-emitting diode rear combination lamps, a unique grille, red brake calipers and 18-in. black machined finished alloy wheels. Interior features for the SX include black leather woven seat trim, carbon insert film-and-metal accents for its black interior and steering-wheel paddle shifters.

Voice-activated navigation is optional on EX and SX Optimas, packaged with an 8-speaker, 500-watt Infinity 5.1 surround sound audio system.

The ’11 Optima is slated to go on sale at U.S. Kia dealers in early fall.

Ward’s data shows Optima deliveries fell 16.4% in 2009 to 37,527 units, outperforming the 21.2% drop in Ward’s Lower Middle segment, where the ’10 Optima resides.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com