The 2011 Kia Optima Kicks Relative AssS

What kind of crazy world is it when Kia is releasing the most desirable new non-performance car at the NY show? Ambitious styling, high-tech engines, MacPherson front and multi-link rear suspension add up to a possible killer mid-size.

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Now I'm not the kind of person to get worked up by a mid-size. A decade or so ago the class was full of fun, practical, cheap cars, but now the US Accord and that beige thing Toyota makes are just plain terrible. The Fusion's ok and all, but it's nothing to get excited about. Given the lowest of expectations we have for the class, the 2011 Kia Optima kind of is.

The 2011 Kia Optima Kicks Relative AssS

The base engine is the 2.4-liter direct-injection four-cylinder that's shared with Hyundai, but here it makes 200 HP and comes with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed auto. There's also going to be the Theta II 2.0-liter turbo DI four with 274 HP and 34 MPG. That engine is shared with the Hyundai Sonata Turbo, which gets 22 MPG city, 34 MPG highway. Sadly, like the Sonata, no manual transmission with the turbo engine.

There's also a Hybrid model planned, which will mate a 40 HP electric motor to 200 HP engine.

Looking at the car up close, the roof line resembles that of the VW CC, but is disguised by the Kia Soul-like c-pillar kink. The interior is almost Audi-like in its quality, while the seats are covered in a sort of neoprene mesh.

Is this reveal the world's most involved April Fool's joke?