2011 Kia Optima Priced at $18,995

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The Optima will come in three trims: LX, EX and SX. They’re equipped with a base 200-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. A 274-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder — the same engine found in the Sonata turbo — will also be available at launch as an option on EX trims and standard in the SX. We’ll have details on the turbo later today as it debuts at the Los Angeles Auto Show. A hybrid model will go on sale later next year.

All Optimas come standard with electronic stability control; power windows, locks and mirrors; keyless entry; dual exhaust with chrome tips; cooled glove box; USB port; Bluetooth connectivity; satellite radio; and steering-wheel mounted audio controls.

The LX trim comes with a six-speed manual transmission standard (it’s the only model with the transmission) and 16-inch steel wheels. You can add a six-speed automatic transmission, alloy wheels, cruise control and an “Eco” fuel-efficient-driving indicator to the LX for $20,495.

The EX model starts at $22,495 and comes standard with automatic transmission, 17-inch wheels, fog lamps, leather-trimmed seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel and Microsoft’s UVO voice recognition system standard.

The turbocharged 2.0-liter version of the EX starts at $24,495 and adds larger front disc brakes, a unique grille and wood or metal interior trim. The equivalent Sonata turbo starts slightly less, at $24,145.

The top-of-the-line SX starts at $25,995 and comes with the turbocharged four-cylinder and a sport–tuned suspension standard. The SX also gets a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, high-intensity-discharge headlamps and LED taillamps. Beyond that, there are options like a navigation system, an upgraded stereo, heated and cooled seats and a panoramic sunroof.

The Optima pricing strategy is aggressive to say the least. The starting MSRP beats other value leaders like the 2011 Hyundai Sonata ($19,195), 2011 Mazda6 ($19,990), 2011 Dodge Avenger ($19,245) and 2011 Toyota Camry ($19,720) and maintains value throughout the midlevel trims.

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