Review: 2006 Kia Optima

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After spending several days driving the new 2006.5 Kia Optima along beautiful country roads in California's Napa Valley region, on the crowded city streets of San Francisco, and on a six-hour run down Interstate 5 to Los Angeles, we think Kia's marketing department might want to focus more on the value equation and less on the Optima's roominess, quietness, and performance. The Optima is certainly accommodating; given the right tires, road surfaces, and cruising speed the Optima is quiet; the standard four-cylinder engine is class competitive if not as thrifty as it should be; and the optional 17-inch Michelin tires provide entertaining handling capability. However, the car isn't a standout in the midsize class. But the value story -- now that holds some water.
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