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Car reviews - Kia - Optima - SE V6 sedan

Overview

Kia based the 2001 Optima on the 1998 Hyundai EF Sonata

Kia logo7 Sep 2001

KIA has not been blessed with too much glory since it arrived in Australia in in the mid-1990s. The cars were cheap, but they were also shoddy and unimpressive to drive. Over time there's been a change for the better - not a dramatic one, but certainly noticeable - and the medium Optima is the best proof yet that Kia is getting its act together. In theory, Optima replaces the unloved Credos, but it's actually much better than that, benefitting from a technology share with owner Hyundai's Sonata sedan, including its 2.5-litre V6 engine. Given the malaise the medium sedan category is going through and Kia's low profile, the Optima is likely to remain well known too just a few of us.
Model release date: 1 May 2001 to 1 February 2003

Previous model

Kia Credos

Released: May 1998
Ended: April 2001
Family Tree: Optima

The Credos shared its underpinnings and 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with the current Mazda 626, which was a promising start. It was well-priced and pretty well equipped, so things look even better. But the styling? This was one car which was belted severely with the ugly stick. Covered with lots of garish chrome, and with lots of overhang, it was like a Toyota Cressida gone wrong. The driving experience was mixed - good engine but the ride was choppy and the steering lifeless.

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