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2011 Kia Optima SX (photos)

The Optima SX features a new power train for this midsize sedan from Kia, a turbocharged direct-injection 2-liter. The car boasts 274 horsepower from this engine, while at the same time providing many luxury cabin appointments.

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Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 17 Josh Miller/CNET

The Optima SX uses Kia's new turbocharged power train, the third drive option for the Optima line of vehicles. The Optima SX follows the base model Optima with its direct-injection 2.4-liter power plant and the hybrid Optima.

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The Optima's exterior styling is a win for the midsize sedan segment, which has been ruled by the innocuous Camry and its imitators.

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Kia's new engine is a direct-injection 2-liter four-cylinder with a turbo, making 274 horsepower while getting similar EPA gas mileage to the nonturbo version.

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As a midsize sedan, the Optima SX has ample room for five occupants.

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The ride quality is good, damping out bumps without being too soft.

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The trunk offers a lot of room, extending deep into the car toward the rear seats.

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In top SX trim with the Premium package, the Optima is very well appointed with heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, climate control, autodimming mirror, and memory settings for the power-adjustable driver's seat.

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The rear seats have a comfortable amount of leg room.

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Kia studs its steering wheel with buttons, which handle cruise control, the stereo, the phone system, and the car's Eco mode.

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The Technology package brings in this LCD and navigation system, along with an Infinity audio system.

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The six-speed automatic transmission has standard drive and manual modes, but no dedicated sport mode. That doesn't matter, as the Optima is not a sport car.

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Kia puts a full color display in the middle of the instrument cluster, but only uses it to show trip information.

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The navigation system overlays traffic information on its high-resolution maps.

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The Optima SX's onscreen interface is very responsive.

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The iPod and USB music library interfaces let you choose music by artist, album, genre, and more.

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The phone interface uses large buttons, and lets you access the paired phone's contact list.

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The back-up camera shows distance indicators, but not trajectory lines.

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