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Korean War: Inside Line pits Hyundai Sonata against Kia Optima


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Korean War: Inside Line pits Hyundai Sonata against Kia Optima [w/poll]

by Jeremy Korzeniewski (RSS feed) on Dec 15th 2010 at 7:30PM


The Koreans are coming! Actually, strike that... they're already here. As a matter of fact, both the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and its corporate kissing cousin, the 2011 Kia Optima, rank very highly on our own midsize sedan pecking order chart. All of this begs the question: Which one is better, and why?

The boys from Inside Line decided to pit the two sedans, which share most major components and assemblies, against each other in a no-holds-barred fight for supremacy. Not surprisingly – both use 2.4-liter four cylinder engines (plus or minus California emissions...) and six-speed automatic transmissions, and both weight nearly the same – picking a winner means delving into the details.

And IL found that the details favored the Kia. There are a number of reasons given for the why and how of this conclusion, which you can read all about right here. Basically, though, IL found that the Optima is tuned more for the enthusiast as opposed to the competent and comfortable nature of the Sonata.

Which one would you pick? Take our poll below and then feel free to talk about your choice in Comments.

Given similar equipment levels, would you rather have the 2011 Hyundai Sonata or the 2011 Kia Optima?



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The Optima has intrigue, but the Sonata is certainly more fluid and cohesive. There's an awkward moment here and there on the Optima's design, though somehow still manages to look excellent overall. It's an aggressive look, inside and out. The Sonata has flow unlike any other and is a generally aesthetically pleasing package. It's sedate and upscale. Really, it depends on what mood I'm in to pick solely based on styling. I love both, equally. It's hard to judge driving dynamics without a more direct comparison or personal time behind the wheel of each. However, most reviews tend to state the Kia's steering and suspension are preferred, regardless of trim. Pricewise, it's clear that the Optima manages to give you more for your money without sacrificing anything.

Overall, I'd probably go with the Optima.... but it's close.

Edited by blackviper8891
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the optima's interior is much more appealing. i sat in one and i am amazed at what they pulled off for so little coin. it's just an all around desirable driver's cabin. the exterior is bangup in person too. A lot of the styling dislikes on the Optima are hard to find in person as opposed to pictures.

sonata drives really well, its a tad soft so maybe the optima is the right blend.

only thing is to me, aside from the very cliche styling of the Sonata, is that they both have a bit too old of a proportion to me and look a bit long for my tastes. The hood is kind of long, big front overhang. nitpicky, sure, and its fwd. The Regal seems more polished to me for style and the LaCrosse definitely is more futuristic in proportion and pillar locations on the greenhouse. I would also use the CC as a good example of how the CC has a futuristic flavor to it that the laid back Koreans do not.

I don't really think the Optima and Sonata function well mega equipped, but at lower prices and in some cases with the turbo their value equation makes a great case. But there is a point of diminishing returns where i think a Regal or Taurus or yes even a Charger now makes a bit more sense.

For a pittance over 20 grand though, you get so much for your money and they are good cars. Basically they give the customer more than expected. It's just too bad that GM or Ford like for example, Chevy can't build this kind of market buzz and value in this segment. The 08 Malibu only got GM back in the game. It never was a direct hit on Accord and Camry like the Sonata has been to some degree so far.

Edited by regfootball
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I've never really cared for the Sonata's overly busy front end, but it is indeed swoopy. Both cars need the larger wheels, especially the Sonota.

I prefer the more European look of the Optima. Plus, it has lots and lots of excellent detailing, from the grill indent which is mimicked by the windshield to thoughtful use of the chrome trim only around the upper part of the greenhouse, which then wraps into the rear window, there's lots of little things to appreciate. It looks more sporty inside and out as well. If I were in the market, it would be at the top of my list.

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