2011 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2011 Kia Optima Comparison Test

2011 Kia Optima Sedan

(2.4L 4-cyl. 6-speed Automatic)
  • 2011 Kia Optima EX Picture

    2011 Kia Optima EX Picture

    "Anything you can do, I can do better..." We decided to see exactly how different the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and 2011 Kia Optima really are. | November 30, 2010

53 Photos

  • Comparison Test
  • Top 16 Features
  • Data and Charts
  • Final Rankings and Scoring Explanation
  • 2011 Kia Optima Specs and Performance
  • 2011 Hyundai Sonata Specs and Performance

When the 2011 Kia Optima EX wearing Spicy Red paint arrived at our offices, it happened to park next to our long-term 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS coated in a suspiciously similar Venetian Red paint. This similarity was no coincidence since the cars in question are, in ways far more significant than their exterior color, essentially the same.

They share a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, six-speed automatic transmission, electric-assist power steering hardware, a 110-inch wheelbase and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, EBD and other assorted TLAs (three-letter acronyms). What's more, they look an awful lot alike. But there are differences — some small, some significant.

Our quest is to find out if those differences actually matter. The devil, as they say, is in the details. Here are a few: The location of final assembly for each is different, as are North American parts content, interior trimmings, wheel/tire fitment and, of course, price. Perhaps more significant are the subtle but effective changes made to give each car its identity — a suspension tweak here or an additional feature there. It's these changes that either bond a customer with a car or break the deal altogether.

We knew from the first time we selected Reverse in the 2011 Kia Optima and discovered a back-up camera that it had a number of features our beloved Hyundai Sonata GLS did not. And when we started tabulating features we realized precisely how much better equipped the new Kia is than the Hyundai.

Base Versus Midlevel Models
The Optima EX loaner we received is a mid-tier model (starting at $23,190) and our Sonata GLS is a base model (starting at $20,915). So before beginning this Korean confrontation, we knew it wouldn't be a strictly a SaGwa-to-SaGwa comparison. Even accounting for our Sonata's $2,585 in options, the GLS's $23,500 as-tested price proved $4,070 lower than the Optima EX's $27,570 as-tested price (including $4,380 in options) — a substantial difference, which we couldn't ignore.

Still, we had to admit to liking Kia's approach: Using Hyundai's strategy of offering a lot of car for little money against a Hyundai is, after all, poetic.

Will the 2011 Kia Optima be the 2011 Hyundai Sonata's fiercest competitor? Perhaps the Sonata's lowball price will still outweigh the Optima's various features and the Hyundai would win yet another comparison test.

Same but Different
The 2011 Kia Optima is assembled in Hwasung, South Korea, and contains but 1 percent North American parts. The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is built in Montgomery, Alabama, and 41 percent of its parts originate in North America. They both feature optional satellite radio and navigation systems with real-time traffic, but Kia uses Sirius services, while Hyundai favors XM. Both satellite services are complimentary for the first 90 days of ownership, and both sedans are optionally equipped with premium audio systems: Kia's from Infinity and Hyundai's from Dimension. The Infinity system is available in the Sonata Limited at a higher price point.

The Optima EX rides on standard 17-inch aluminum wheels shod with Nexen CP671 all-season tires (P215/55R17 front and rear) whereas the Sonata has P205/65R16 all-season Kumho Solus KH25 tires wrapped around optional 16-inch aluminum wheels, yet the tires' relative rolling circumferences are within fractions of an inch. Weight differed between our two test cars by only 165 pounds (3,407 Optima, 3,242 Sonata).

The Drag Strip
With the same six-speed automatic transmission and final-drive ratios, the two cars leave the starting line in a dead heat, but by 30 mph, the lighter Sonata begins to eke out a lead. At 60 mph, the Sonata is 0.6 second ahead (8.3 seconds vs. 8.9 seconds), and by the end of the quarter-mile, the Hyundai is a half-second quicker with a 2-mph advantage (16.2 seconds at 88.0 mph vs. 16.7 seconds at 85.7 mph). Have a look at the graph in the photo gallery showing the two cars' best acceleration runs to see the divergent curves, but there's no question the Optima is either encumbered by its additional weight or it's down on power.

Turns out, it's probably both. Despite sharing the same displacement, direct fuel-injection and 87-octane fuel requirement, our 2011 Kia Optima EX carries a California SULEV (super ultralow-emissions vehicle) rating. This regional engine knocks down the output slightly relative to the ULEV II-rated Sonata. With 198 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, the Sonata offers a small bump in power over the Optima's 192 hp and 181 lb-ft.

Incidentally, we measured a very slight fuel efficiency advantage in the Sonata. Covering the same 1,000 miles or so, we recorded 23 mpg in the Sonata versus the Optima's 22 mpg. Contrary to our typical mixed-driving results, it was curious that neither one achieved its EPA "Combined" target (27 mpg Optima, 26 mpg Sonata).

The tables turned slightly in the Kia's favor when we stood on the brake pedals. The Optima required 121 feet to stop from 60 mph while the Sonata (with 5,600 more miles on its brake pads) ate up 127 feet — that's a foot better than when it was new.

The Wiggly Bits
Despite sharing the same electric-assisted power steering hardware and steering ratios, Kia tuned the boost/resistance of the Optima EX's steering system to offer more feel and heft, lending it far more substantial and intuitive responses. Compared to the excessively light/numb feedback in the Sonata, the Optima feels as if it has traditional hydraulic-assisted steering. There's also more rubber contacting the ground beneath the Optima EX so it came as little surprise when we recorded a higher level of grip — and confidence — for the Kia (0.82g on the skid pad to the Hyundai's 0.77g orbit). We observed similar results in our 600-foot slalom test, where the Optima managed a 62.1-mph best pass to the Sonata's 61.6-mph best.

The test driver noted that in a previous test of the very same Sonata — when its odometer read 1,113 miles — it slithered between the cones faster because it then exhibited an Optima-like ability to shun understeer with an aptitude to rotate in the slalom. The Sonata no longer dances, but plows through the slalom. Our driver suspected the Sonata's front tires' capacity to bite the pavement had degraded enough to alter this slalom-friendly aptitude.

Time out
At this point, the running results of this comparison are looking rather ambiguous. To get a better handle on these two midsizers' qualities and differences, we needed to spend some evaluation time driving in everyday conditions, poking buttons, measuring things and observing variations in presentation, quality and content — with scorecard in hand.

True, it's been a veritable five-month love fest with our long-term Sonata GLS. We appreciate its segment-leading styling, its relaxed and generously sized interior, its many useful features, plus its long-haul comfort and affordability. Then we drove the 2011 Kia Optima. It made us realize for the first time that the Sonata's ride qualities border on floaty and that the Sonata's light-colored cloth seating was neither all that supportive, nor resilient to the grime that comes with everyday use. And if we didn't have an aversion to the Sonata's steering before, we certainly do now that we know it can be tuned like the Optima's.

The Optima EX manages to possess a ride as compliant as the Sonata in addition to a sportier feel and a more confident demeanor. Its more supportive leather seating lends a sense of solidity and there's a sturdiness and poise when piloting the Optima down the freeway or on a twisting road that we never have observed in our Sonata. Some of this is owed to the steering and some to suspension, but we like it all together.

In contrast, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata feels as if its primary goal is to carry its passengers with as little sensation of traveling as possible — which is not a bad thing, just a different approach to tuning the chassis. Lexus has found success with this ideal. Then again, Mercedes-Benz has recently earned more acclaim sloughing off the old ways and offering a more connected, more engaging dynamic without sacrificing comfort, too.

Widening the Gap
Where the Optima really put its brother in a headlock, though, is with its overpowering list of features. What began as a trickle with a few editors noticing a couple Optima-unique conveniences, snowballed into a sizable avalanche of small-but-meaningful items.

We found 16 features which best demonstrate the $4,070 difference in as-tested prices. It began with little things: foglamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel and a little vent in the glovebox to cool its contents. Then we started noticing bigger things: 17-inch alloy wheels, an intelligent key with push-button ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control up front, and HVAC vents in the rear, heated and ventilated leather front seats (with two-position memory for the driver), heated leather rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and of course, the blacked-out two-pane "panoramic" sunroof. In all, the Optima outscored the Sonata by 83 points (as 20 percent of the test's total weight) on features alone.

We recognize that many — though not all — of the Optima EX's features that we chose to highlight are available in higher trim levels of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata. But in this case — because these are fundamentally the same car — we chose to score only features that are distinct to each vehicle. Consult the "Features" page for details, but the as-tested prices of the as-tested models are what we compare.

Furthermore, we purposely weight the Price category the same as Features (at 20 percent of the total) to balance what you get against what you pay for. The Sonata, as equipped, undercuts the Optima in price by 17 points.

Finally, we used our 28-item evaluation rubric to score everything from front/rear seat comfort and driving position to cupholders and infotainment systems. The results were, not surprisingly, very close. However, the Optima again held a narrow advantage.

Same Game, Different Winner
We often see comparison tests like this one produce point spreads in the five-to-10-point range. With a commanding 16.3-point margin of victory over the reigning champ, the Kia Optima EX beat the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS at its own game; proving that it is a truly a car worth your consideration — just like the 2011 Hyundai Sonata did when it was introduced.

Our clever scheme to compare the same car with different wrappers became a rather significant victory for one and a bit of a black eye for the other. It turns out there are enough differences in content, execution and dynamics to declare the Optima EX a completely different — and better — car than the Sonata GLS.

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

The first indication that the 2011 Kia Optima might have the upper hand in terms of features came the first time we backed it out of a parking stall. "Hey, a back-up camera. Our Sonata doesn't have that." And thus began the ever-growing list of items the Kia had that the Hyundai lacked. That list developed into a compilation which represents a death of a thousand cuts. OK, 16 points, but you get it.

Many of the features that are standard on this test's midlevel EX model (at $23,190) 2011 Kia Optima are not available on our base-model GLS ($20,915) 2011 Sonata. However, many, but not all of the 2011 Kia Optima EX's features can be found on the equipment roster for either/both the 2011 Hyundai Sonata SE (at $23,315) or top-tier 2011 Hyundai Sonata Limited (at $26,015).

We did not include features that both cars in this comparison test share as standard or optional equipment. Rather, we chose items that are distinct to one car or the other. Features the cars have in common include voice-activated DVD navigation systems with touchscreens and real-time traffic, satellite radio (it's curious that Kia subscribes to Sirius and Hyundai XM), iPod/aux/USB connections and premium audio systems, cruise control and other steering-wheel controls, and the ever-useful 60/40 split-fold rear seatbacks.

Below are the numerous little ways the Kia Optima outscored the Hyundai Sonata on our Features checklist.

Features
  2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS 2011 Kia Optima EX
Alloy wheels O S
Auto up/down front windows N/A S
Cooled glovebox N/A S
Dual-zone automatic climate control N/A S
Foglamps N/A S
Heated rear seats N/A O
Heated steering wheel N/A O
Heated/ventilated front seats N/A O
Hill-start assist N/A S
Intelligent key (doors/ignition) N/A S
Leather seating N/A S
Leather-wrapped steering wheel N/A S
Panoramic sunroof N/A O
Rear-console HVAC vents N/A S
Rearview camera N/A O
Seat memory for driver seat N/A O


Key:
S: Standard
O: Optional (and present)
O*: Optional (but absent)
N/A: Not Available


Alloy wheels: Standard 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels are included on the Optima EX, but 16-inch alloy wheels are optional on the Sonata GLS. If you want 17s on your Sonata, you have to step up to the Sonata Limited.

Auto up/down front windows: Standard on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS (but auto up/down is included on the driver's window only).

Cooled glovebox: This would not be particularly useful if the iPod connection was in the glovebox (but it is not). However, if you're transporting chocolate bars, you'll be happy to find this feature is standard on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on any 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

Dual-zone automatic climate control: Standard on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS (but available on the Sonata SE 2.0T and Limited models).

Foglamps: Standard on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS (but standard on both the Sonata SE and Limited models).

Heated rear seats: Optional on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS (available on the Sonata Limited model).

Heated steering wheel: Optional on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on any 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

Heated/ventilated front seats: Optional on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS. Heated (but not ventilated) front seats are available on the Sonata Limited model.

Hill-start assist: Automatically holds the vehicle in place (with the brakes) when on an incline; standard on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on any 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

Intelligent key: From the linty depths of your pocket or purse, these intelligent keys communicate with the car to allow you to lock/unlock and even start the car without the uncomfortable excavation ritual; standard on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS (but standard on both the SE and Limited models).

Leather seating: Standard on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS (but standard on the Limited model).

Leather-wrapped steering wheel: Standard on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS (but available on both the Sonata SE and Limited models).

Panoramic sunroof: Although it's not quite as impressive as it sounds, the optional two-window sunroof (only the front portal opens) in the Optima EX also includes a blacked-out high-gloss B-pillar. Not available on any Sonata for now.

Rear-console HVAC vents: Vents for rear-seat passengers aren't critical equipment, but they are appreciated: standard on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS (but available on the Sonata Limited model).

Rearview camera: Optional on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on the 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS (optional on the Sonata Limited model).

Seat memory for driver seat: Optional on the 2011 Kia Optima EX; not available on any 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

Dimensions
Engine & Transmission Specifications
Warranty Information
Performance Information


Dimensions
Exterior Dimensions & Capacities
  2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS 2011 Kia Optima EX
Length, in. 189.8 190.7
Width, in. 72.2 72.1
Height, in. 57.9 57.3
Wheelbase, in. 110.0 110.0
As Tested Curb Weight, lb. 3,242 3,407
Turning Circle, ft. 35.8 35.8


Interior Dimensions
  2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS 2011 Kia Optima EX
Front headroom, in. 40.0 40.0
Rear headroom, in. 37.8 37.6
Front shoulder room, in. 57.9 57.2
Rear shoulder room, in. 56.7 55.7
Front legroom, in. 45.5 45.5
Rear legroom, in. 34.6 34.7
Cargo volume, cu-ft. 16.4 15.4


Engine & Transmission Specifications
Engine & Transmission
  2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS 2011 Kia Optima EX
Displacement
(cc / cu-in):
2400 2400
Engine Type Direct-injection inline-4 Direct-injection inline-4
Horsepower (SAE) @ rpm 198 @ 6,300 192 @ 6,300
Max. Torque, lb-ft @ rpm 184 @ 4,250 181 @ 4,250
Transmission Six-speed auto Six-speed auto
EPA Fuel Economy City, mpg 22.0 24.0
EPA Fuel Economy Hwy, mpg 35.0 34.0
EPA Fuel Economy combined, mpg 26.0 27.0
Observed Fuel Economy combined, mpg 23.0 22.0


Warranty
Warranty Information
  2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS 2011 Kia Optima EX
Basic Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain 10 years/100,000 miles 10 years/100,000 miles
Roadside Assistance 5 years/Unlimited miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion Protection 7 years/Unlimited miles 5 years/100,000 miles


Performance
Performance Information
  2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS 2011 Kia Optima EX
0-60 mph acceleration, sec. 8.3 8.9
Quarter-mile acceleration, sec. 16.2 16.7
Quarter-mile speed, mph 88.0 85.7
60-0-mph braking, feet 127 121
Lateral Acceleration, g 0.77 0.82
600-ft slalom, mph 61.6 62.1


Final Rankings
Item Weight 2011 Kia Optima EX 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS
Personal Rating 2.5% 100.0 50.0
Recommended Rating 2.5% 100.0 50.0
Evaluation Score 20% 73.8 70.0
Feature Content 20% 87.5 4.2
Performance 15% 91.0 95.5
Fuel Consumption 20% 100.0 97.7
Price 20% 82.7 100.0
Total Score 100.0% 87.5 71.2
Final Ranking 1 2


We tweaked the knobs on this comparison only slightly to de-emphasize the two vehicles' track performances (which were very close anyway) in favor of putting more weight behind Features and Price categories. And to ensure that features were offset by the price (of those features), we assigned an equal weight to both. Our 28-point evaluation scores were tabulated and given a significant 20 percent weight, as "how" these two rivals execute their complex packages is at least as important as "what" there is to evaluate. Finally, fuel consumption is on everybody's mind, so it, too, earns 20 percent weight.

Personal Rating (2.5%): Purely subjective; after the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the cars in order of preference based on which he or she would buy himself/herself if money were no object.

Recommended Rating (2.5%): After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the two cars in order of preference based on which he or she thought would be best for the average consumer shopping in this segment.

28-Point Evaluation (20%): Each participating editor ranked the two cars based on a comprehensive 28-point evaluation. The evaluation covered everything from ride comfort, steering response and brake performance to cupholders and exterior design. Scoring was calculated on a point system, and the scores listed are averages based on all test participants' evaluations.

Feature Content (20%): For this category, the editors picked the top 16 features they thought would be most demonstrative in revealing all those little things that differentiate one vehicle from the other. For each car, the score was based on the number of actual features it had versus the total possible (16). Standard and optional equipment were taken into consideration. (This was weighted the same as Price to balance "what you get" against "how much you pay for it.")

Performance Testing (15%): Both cars were subjected to a comprehensive battery of instrumented tests, including 0-60 acceleration, quarter-mile runs and panic stops from 60 mph. Each was run through a 600-foot slalom course to test transitional handling and around a skid pad to determine ultimate grip. For all track tests, we record data with stability/traction control systems in both "on" and "off" conditions (or as "off" as they allow). The cars were awarded points based on how closely each came to the better-performing car's score in each category.

Fuel Consumption (20%): The numbers listed were the result of a simple percentage calculation based on the EPA's "combined" fuel economy estimates for the cars in the comparison test. The most efficient car scored 100 while the other car's score is a simple percentage calculation based on how closely it came to the better-performing car's score.

Price (20%): The numbers listed were the result of a simple percentage calculation based on the less expensive car in the comparison test. Using the "as-tested" prices of the actual evaluation vehicles, the less expensive car received a score of 100, with the other receiving a lesser score based on how much each one costs (weighted the same as Feature Content to balance "what you get" against "how much you pay for it").

Vehicle
Model year2011
MakeKia
ModelOptima
Year Make Model2011 Kia Optima EX (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
Vehicle TypeFWD 4dr 5-passenger Sedan
Base MSRP$23,190
Options on test vehicleSpicy Red Paint; EX Premium Package ($2,250 -- includes panoramic sunroof with high-gloss B-pillar, front passenger's four-way power seat, two-position driver seat memory, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, wood trim door inserts and center console, metal PRND bezel); EX Technology Package With EX Premium Package ($2,000 -- includes DVD navigation system with back-up camera, Infinity premium audio system and eight speakers); Carpeted Floor Mats ($95); iPod Cable ($35 est.).
As-tested MSRP$27,570 (est.)
Assembly locationHwasung, Korea
North American parts content (%)1
Drivetrain
ConfigurationTransverse, front-engine, front-wheel drive
Engine typeNaturally aspirated, direct-injected inline-4, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)2,359cc (144 cu-in)
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, four valves per cylinder, variable intake + exhaust-valve timing
Compression ratio (x:1)11.3
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,500
Fuel cutoff/rev limiter (rpm)6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)192 @ 6,300
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)181 @ 4,250
Fuel type87-octane recommended
Transmission typeSix-speed automatic with console shifter and manual shift gate
Transmission ratios (x:1)1st = 4.212; 2nd = 2.637; 3rd = 1.800; 4th = 1.386; 5th = 1.000; 6th = 0.772; R = 3.385
Final-drive ratio (x:1)2.885
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist, speed-proportional rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)14.5
Tire make and modelNexen Classe Premiere CP671
Tire typeAll-season (33 psi cold front; 33 psi cold rear)
Tire sizeP215/55R17 93V
Wheel size17-by-6.5 inches front and rear
Wheel materialCast-aluminum
Brakes, front11.8-inch one-piece ventilated cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes, rear11.2-inch one-piece solid cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)3.5
0-45 mph (sec.)5.9
0-60 mph (sec.)8.9
0-75 mph (sec.)13.3
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)16.7 @ 85.7
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)8.6
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.6
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)6.2
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)9.2
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)13.8
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)16.9 @ 84.2
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)8.9
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)30
60-0 mph (ft.)121
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)62.1
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON58.4
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.82
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.76
Sound level @ idle (dB)36.8
@ Full throttle (dB)78.5
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)64.6
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,000
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsWith traction control off, there doesn't appear to be enough torque (or there's too much grip) to get much wheelspin. The Optima is a little pokey from a stop, but once underway, it starts to feel revvy, but not as free-revving as the Sonata. Does this Kia Optima weigh that much more than the Hyundai Sonata? Feels like it. Auto upshifts in manual mode make manual shifting a moot point here.
Braking commentsGood pedal push-back, so-so initial bite, but obviously better/grippier tires on the Optima over the Sonata. Similarly good fade resistance and fast-cycling ABS make for undramatic and repeatable stops.
Handling commentsSkid pad: With ESC off, there's remarkable balance with only a hint of understeer; steering mostly with the throttle. With ESC on, there's a similar balance, however, at a much slower speed as the throttle closes well before the understeer begins. Steering weight is appropriate for this speed, and there's a sense of building/waning grip levels through the steering wheel. Slalom: With ESC off, by the fourth cone, this car begins to rotate and oversteer progressively. I had to abort several passes. I tried the "slow-in, fast-out" technique, but it was just slower. Best run came when I successfully timed the rear slide at the exit cone, but it wasn't entirely repeatable. With ESC on, the system was fighting against the propensity to rotate that the best I could manage was nearly 4 mph slower.
Testing Conditions
Test date9/27/2010
Elevation (ft.)421
Temperature (F)80.88
Relative humidity (%)37.44
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)29.47
Wind (mph, direction)3.25, crosswind
Odometer (mi.)1,251
Fuel used for test87-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)33/33
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)24 city/34 highway/27 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)17 worst/33 best/22 average (over 1,036 miles)
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)18.5
Driving range (mi.)629
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo descriptionInfinity premium sound system with eight speakers, external amplifier, AM/FM/CD/MP3, Sirius satellite radio (with 90-day tiral)
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard aux, iPod/USB via propietary cable
Satellite radioStandard Sirius (no-cost 90-day trial)
Hard-drive music storage capacity (Gb)Not available
Rear seat video and entertainmentNot available
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard
Navigation systemOptional DVD-based with Sirius traffic 6.5-inch display screen (measured diagonally)
Telematics (OnStar, etc.)Not available
Smart entry/StartStandard ignition doors trunk/hatch
Parking aidsOptional back-up camera
Blind-spot detectionNot available
Adaptive cruise controlNot available
Lane-departure monitoringNot available
Collision warning/avoidanceNot available
Night VisionNot available
Driver coaching displayStandard (instantaneous and average fuel economy + Eco lamp)
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,385
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,407
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)59/41
Length (in.)190.7
Width (in.)72.1
Height (in.)57.3
Wheelbase (in.)110.0
Track, front (in.)62.8
Track, rear (in.)62.8
Turning circle (ft.)35.8
Legroom, front (in.)45.5
Legroom, rear (in.)34.7
Headroom, front (in.)40.0
Headroom, rear (in.)37.6
Shoulder room, front (in.)57.2
Shoulder room, rear (in.)55.7
Seating capacity5
Step-in height, measured (in.)14.63
Trunk volume (cu-ft)15.4
Max cargo volume behind 1st row (cu-ft)Standard 60/40 split-fold rear seats (no volume given)
Cargo loading height, measured (in.)27.75
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain10 years/100,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance5 years/60,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenanceNot available
Vehicle
Model year2011
MakeHyundai
ModelSonata
Year Make Model2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
Vehicle TypeFWD 4dr 5-passenger Sedan
Base MSRP$20,915
Options on test vehicleVenetian Red Paint; GLS Popular Equipment Package Plus Navigation ($2,450 --includes 16-inch alloy wheels, power driver seat, driver lumbar support, automatic headlight control, chrome interior door handles, leatherette interior panel door inserts, navigation system with high-resolution touchscreen display, Dimension AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with seven speakers and external amplifier (360-watts), 90-day complimentary subscription to XM NavTraffic, XM NavWeather, XM sports and XM stock); Carpeted Floor Mats ($100); iPod Cable ($35).
As-tested MSRP$23,500
Assembly locationMontgomery, Alabama. U.S.A.
North American parts content (%)41
Drivetrain
ConfigurationTransverse, front-engine, front-wheel drive
Engine typeNaturally aspirated, direct-injected inline-4, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)2,359cc (144 cu-in)
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, four valves per cylinder, variable intake + exhaust-valve timing
Compression ratio (x:1)11.3
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,500
Fuel cutoff/rev limiter (rpm)6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)198 @ 6,300
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)184 @ 4,250
Fuel type87-octane recommended
Transmission typeSix-speed automatic with console shifter and manual-shift gate
Transmission ratios (x:1)1st = 4.212; 2nd = 2.637; 3rd = 1.800; 4th = 1.386; 5th = 1.000; 6th = 0.772; R = 3.385
Final-drive ratio (x:1)2.885
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist, speed-proportional, rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)14.5
Tire make and modelKumho Solus KH25
Tire typeAll-season (33 psi cold front; 33 psi cold rear)
Tire sizeP205/65R16 94H
Wheel size16-by-6.5 inches front and rear
Wheel materialCast aluminum
Brakes, front11.8-inch one-piece ventilated cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes, rear11.2-inch one-piece solid cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)3.3
0-45 mph (sec.)5.5
0-60 mph (sec.)8.3
0-75 mph (sec.)12.3
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)16.2 @ 88.0
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)8.0
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.3
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)5.6
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)8.5
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)12.6
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)16.3 @ 87.2
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)8.1
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)32
60-0 mph (ft.)127
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)61.6
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON60.3
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.77
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.75
Sound level @ idle (dB)37.8
@ Full throttle (dB)78.9
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)67.6
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,000
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsThe best run was with some slight wheelspin to maintain revs. Even in Manual mode, the trans auto-upshifts just shy of redline, so there's really no point in a manual-shift run. Smooth upshifts and no dead spots in rev range.
Braking commentsGood bite; firm, trustworthy pedal; linear slowing from initial ABS hit to full stop. Quick-cycling ABS, some dive and wiggle, negligible fade.
Handling commentsSkid pad: With ESC on, the car trims throttle to deal with the understeer. With ESC off, there's only a tad more to be had, but there's a nice balance here that can be found with minimal steering input. Slalom: With ESC off, just as the run starts to get interesting and entertaining, understeer becomes a limiting factor. It used to rotate more than it does now (worn tires?). With ESC on, smooth inputs keep the nanny away, though if she slaps your hand, she pulls back quickly, too.
Testing Conditions
Test date9/27/2010
Elevation (ft.)421
Temperature (F)77.4
Relative humidity (%)39.1
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)29.5
Wind (mph, direction)0.69, crosswind
Odometer (mi.)6,885
Fuel used for test87-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)33/33
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)22 city/35 highway/26 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)18 worst/34 best/ 23 average (over 1,285 miles)
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)18.5
Driving range (mi.)647
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo descriptionDimension 360-watt AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 Audio System, seven Speakers and external amplifier
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard aux, iPod/USB via propietary cable
Satellite radioStandard XM (no-cost 90-day trial)
Hard-drive music storage capacity (Gb)Not available
Rear seat video and entertainmentNot available
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard; optional audio streaming
Navigation systemOptional DVD-based with XM traffic 6.5-inch display screen (measured diagonally)
Telematics (OnStar, etc.)Optional XM Data: weather/warnings, stock search, sports
Smart entry/StartOptional ignition doors trunk/hatch
Parking aidsOptional back-up camera
Blind-spot detectionNot available
Adaptive cruise controlNot available
Lane-departure monitoringNot available
Collision warning/avoidanceNot available
Night VisionNot available
Driver coaching displayStandard (instantaneous/average fuel consumption + Eco lamp)
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,199
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,242
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)61/49
Length (in.)189.8
Width (in.)72.2
Height (in.)57.9
Wheelbase (in.)110.0
Track, front (in.)62.9
Track, rear (in.)62.9
Turning circle (ft.)35.8
Legroom, front (in.)45.5
Legroom, rear (in.)34.6
Headroom, front (in.)40.0
Headroom, rear (in.)37.8
Shoulder room, front (in.)57.9
Shoulder room, rear (in.)56.7
Seating capacity5
Step-in height, measured (in.)14.0
Trunk volume (cu-ft)16.4
Max cargo volume behind 1st row (cu-ft)Standard 60/40 split-fold rear seats (no volume given)
Cargo loading height, measured (in.)29.0
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain10 years/100,000 miles
Corrosion7 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance5 years/Unlimited miles
Free scheduled maintenanceNot available
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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Kia Optima in NJ is:

$226 per month*
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