2011 Kia Optima

Talk about a turnaround. The mid-sized Kia Optima has gone from a middle-of-the-road nondescript sedan to a head-turner with a stylish interior and that is fun to drive while deriving 34 miles to the gallon on the highway.

The Kia takes on a premium, European look.

The shoulder line rises up from front to back giving it a handsome stance. The Kia grille and wrap-around headlight enclosures are the new Kia trademark across the restyled lineup.

Inside the dashboard styling takes a German look — perhaps closer to the dashboard treatments in Audi and Volkswagen products. It is loaded with soft-touch materials, precise switchgear and excellent-looking plastics.

The 2011 Optima is based on the same platform used for the equally made-over and award-winning Hyundai Sonata. While Kia tuned the suspension and steering to its own sportier specification, the Sonata's engines have carried over— and that's a good thing.

The new Optima is a winner inside and out.

MotorwayAmerica.com pictures by Jim Meachen