"For $24,000, is the Kia Sportage or Kia Optima a better deal?"
Dawn B., Plano, Texas
You should decide whether you want a car (Optima sedan) or a crossover SUV (Sportage), and if it's the SUV, whether you would prefer front- or all-wheel drive. The Optima will be more agile and economical, but the Sportage will offer more room and a more commanding driving position.
The 2013 Optima, available only with front-wheel drive, starts at $22,150 for a base LX model (including the $800 destination charge). The better-equipped EX starts at $24,450 with destination, so add any options and it will cost significantly more than $24,000. With either, the EPA ratings are 24 /35 mpg city/highway, and you will get a roomy midsize sedan with a spacious trunk.
Though the Optima's rear seatbacks fold for additional cargo space, the opening isn't big enough to easily carry bulky objects like the Sportage can.
The Sportage has 54.6 cubic feet of cargo space when you fold the rear seatbacks - enough to carry a large-screen TV. Prices start at $22,050 for a front-drive LX and $23,550 for an all-wheel-drive version. Mileage ratings are lower than the Optima's, at 21/30 mpg with front-drive and 20/27 mpg with all-wheel-drive, so buying an SUV instead of a sedan carries an ongoing cost penalty.
You can see how they stack up in other ways with the Cars.com Compare feature. We set up a comparison of the Optima and Sportage you can dissect here. Selecting specific models will let you compare them in greater detail. You should check out both in person and drive them back-to-back to see which you find more appealing and better able to meet your needs.
Have a car question you'd like us to answer? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.