1 May 2001
By CHRIS HARRIS
A vast improvement over its ancient Mazda 626-based Credos predecessor, the Optima was built on the EF (third generation) Hyundai Sonata family sedan.
Value-for-money V6 power was its motto, and if expectations are reasonably contained then the Optima delivers, thanks to a smooth yet fairly punchy 127kW/229Nm 2.5-litre V6 available with either a five-speed manual or advanced four-speed automatic gearbox.
Soft suspension settings don’t help the big front-wheel drive four-door sedan handle with too much alacrity or grace, but it’s a fine open-road cruiser with ample space for a family of five.
But equipment levels aren’t too flash – a driver’s airbag, air-conditioning, remote central locking, power steering, power windows, electric windows and cloth trim are included, but a passenger airbag and anti-lock brakes were not available.
And sales weren’t too great either, so it came as no surprise when Kia temporarily halted Optima importation in early ’03. But it wasn’t the end of the model’s run here.
The Road to Recovery podcast series
7th of September 2001
Kia 2001 Optima SE V6 sedan
Kia based the 2001 Optima on the 1998 Hyundai EF Sonata
When it was new