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2011 Kia Optima EX (photos)

The larger, more powerful 2011 Kia Optima EX has grown into a serious challenger in the midsize sedan market, with a high level of cabin appointments at a relatively low price.

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Antuan Goodwin

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1 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Kia's Optima has grown substantially since its last generation, both physically and in terms of design.
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2 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The Optima leads off with its Tiger Nose design language, which is sporty and aggressive without being gaudy.
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3 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Beneath the Optima's hood is a 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder that outputs an even 200 horsepower at its peak.
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4 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The Kia Optima EX's fuel economy is estimated by the EPA at 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.
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5 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The Optima shares a platform and most of its technology with the Hyundai Sonata.
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6 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The Kia seems to have moved away from its economy-car roots with an interior that features a few luxury appointments, such as heated rear seats.
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7 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The optional Infinity premium audio system delivers fantastic sound at a fantastic value.
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8 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
When equipped with navigation, the Optima also gains a rearview camera.
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9 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Handling is nothing to write home about, but we were not entirely disappointed by this large sedan's willingness to change direction.
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10 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
A six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode is standard on the Optima EX.
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11 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Physical buttons offer shortcuts to most of the Optima's functions, but also require the driver to look away from the road momentarily to, for example, access the map.
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12 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Steering wheel controls for hands-free calling are easy to use. Also present is the button for Eco mode, which adjusts the engine output, throttle control, and transmission for maximum mpg.
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13 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Instrumentation is simple yet attractive, with a monochromatic LCD in the center of the speedometer.
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14 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
A premium package on the Optima EX adds dual panoramic sunroofs to the sedan's low-slung roof.
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15 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Navigation data is stored on 8GB of solid-state memory. Feedback is quite fast, but only two-dimensional maps are available.
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16 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Traffic data is provided via Sirius satellite radio.
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17 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
The satellite connection is also useful for listening to music.
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18 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
USB connectivity is standard, but iPod connection requires a $35 cable.
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19 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Also standard is Bluetooth wireless for hands-free calling and audio streaming.

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