Take a spin in the Kia Optima Turbo, and your brain will reset all preconceptions that this Korean carmaker makes throwaway cars. That is, if you aren't already a Kia convert. Shut up and hold on. The SX Turbo is a forceful midsize sedan. The suspension is a little hard, but the car is a dramatic statement in performance, technology and styling.
Sold in three trim levels -- and a hybrid -- pricing starts at $19,690 for the base LX with a 192-hp, gasoline-direct injection, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission. (Outside of California and Eastern states with similar air-quality standards, horsepower is 200.) Add $1,500 for the six-speed Sportmatic transmission. Fuel economy ratings are 24/35 mpg for manual and 24/34 mpg for automatic.