The Kia Optima is not a bad car – it is endowed with enough quality in the looks, practicality, economy and affordability departments to earn admirers – and were it segregated from our top five in this category, it would appear more than adequate for its role. But as a newcomer to an already overdeveloped arena, the Optima just doesn’t feel up to standard across the board.

Deficiencies in refinement, interior finish and ride may not frustrate all of its potential buyers, but to anyone familiar with the household models from Europe and Japan, they will rankle as issues already exorcised by most of its rivals.

With an agreeable price, satisfactory performance and abundant equipment, the Optima will delight some company car devotees, but ultimately Kia has produced another moderately pleasant also-ran rather than a class-leading competitor.

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