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Midsize Sedans 2.0



  • So I got a chance to go check out the vehicles at the Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS) yesterday. Based on floor traffic, Ford was rockin' but based on engineers measuring and benchmarking, Hyundai/Kia were pretty busy. There was a lot of activity in the GM booth around the Volt and the Sonic. Toyota's booth seemed almost empty except for a couple of Siennas. The Scion area was more about the booth then the vehicles, and the Lexus area was full of clipboards and measuring equipment.
    As far as the mid-sizers go, the Hyundai seems to offer styling while the Kia is more driver oriented. I am curious to see how the Optima does with a Fusion in terms of driving feel and handling. Mazda had a very pedestrian looking Mazda6 on display. There were 3 Passats in the VW display...I think the color choices have a lot to do with how fancy it feels; the white/beige-yellow Passat GL felt very plain even though it was comfortable and had the power package. They over all package seemed plain but inoffensive. There were a few Legacys (Legacies?) there at various trim levels...that car got a lot bigger than our Legacy wagon. It does look like the rear seat would do better with child seats than our '05 wagon does. I didn't get to see the new Regal at the show although I've driven the base 4 cylinder a bit already. I am sure it was at the show, I just managed to miss it.
  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    Latest commercial on TV for a Kia, could be the Optima, didn't listen, just caught glimpses as the DVR skipped through it, but I thought it was a Ford commercial for the Taurus, until I saw the Hyundai logo.

    Anyone else noticed how similar they look at a glance? So Hyundai is copying Ford now, says a lot about Ford! :)
  • dash5dash5 Posts: 417
    Why would a Kia commercial have a Hyundai logo? Are you saying the Optima looks like the Taurus? Other than the fender vent, I dont see it.
  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 2,626 that was funny...and probably just what we need to get this forum moving along. Akirby, thanks so much for the belly laugh you just gave me...priceless!!! :)

    The Sandman :) :sick: :shades:

    2014 Hyundai Tuscon SE/2005 Mazda 3s/2008 Hyundai Accent GLS/2009 Nissan Versa SL hatch

  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 2,626
    Can we please get back to the topic at hand, Mid sized sedans & stop the "tranny talk". Please ignore this post if we've already moved on...I'm still a few days back & it's getting a bit "tedious" already. T I A all.

    The Sandman :) :sick: :shades:

    2014 Hyundai Tuscon SE/2005 Mazda 3s/2008 Hyundai Accent GLS/2009 Nissan Versa SL hatch

  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 2,626
    Marketing can only go so far, the Camry sells so well is because it gives folks what they want in a daily's not a "great car", but it must be doing something right. True, it does a lot of fleet sales but for the majority of folks, it just gets the job done in a comfortable way...who could ask for more?

    The Sandman :) :sick: :shades:

    2014 Hyundai Tuscon SE/2005 Mazda 3s/2008 Hyundai Accent GLS/2009 Nissan Versa SL hatch

  • sandman_6472sandman_6472 Coral Springs, FLPosts: 2,626
    Maybe it's me...I just don't see it. :confuse:

    The Sandman :) :sick: :shades:

    2014 Hyundai Tuscon SE/2005 Mazda 3s/2008 Hyundai Accent GLS/2009 Nissan Versa SL hatch

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    edited January 2011
    It's interesting to see what different people think is "stylish" and good looking in a sedan, and what others think is "boring" ugly. IMO there is not much difference between the two.

    Case in point: 2011 Optima vs. 2012 Passat. First, the Optima:


    Now the Passat:


    What are the differences? Here's what I see that jumps out:

    * Different C-pillar: Optima has a 2nd window built into the rear door with a thicker C-pillar, and Passat has the 2nd window behind the rear door. Both have a Hofmesiter Kink style C-pillar, however.

    * Rear lamps: Optima's are cut further into the body, but otherwise they are pretty similar.

    * Front air dam: The ends on the Optima cant upwards more than the Passat's.

    * Moonroof: Optima has the optional panoramic moonroof.

    Oh, and the Optima has the little Taurus-like vents in the front fenders (known in the Rust Belt as "just another place for road salt to accumulate").

    That's about it. I don't see huge differences between the styling of the two cars. Yet the Optima has been called by some the best-looking mid-sized sedan, while the Passat has been generally blasted as being "boring".

    Why is that??
  • dash5dash5 Posts: 417
    I think there is a huge difference, the Optima is clearly a head turner while the best you can say about the Passat is that it is conservative and not offensive.

    Taken from the side:



    The Optima gives a look of constant motion by it's rising lines in the greenhouse and the way the rear windows sweep up. It looks athletic, with clean lines and a sporty vibe to it. The Passat also has the clean lines, but you would not look at it and say sporty, or in any way distinguishable from any other sedan out there. It's fairly non descript, in that color anyway.

    Looking at the optima from yet another angle you see the blackened roof which I really feel lends itself to standing out amongst the crowd in the midsized segment. Seeing an Optima in person you can really appreciate how good it looks.


    To me it's no contest. The Passat might look ok, and granted I havent seen it in person, but it's hardly a head turner. The Kia on the other hand is rightly praised for it's looks and classic styling. In fact these two were the subject of an article in the Washington Post today: html

    "In short, Volkswagen's strategy is to assuage consumer price sensitivity by removing content from its vehicles, which can be viewed as a common-sense approach in economically hard times. At Volkswagen, you pay for what you get, and what you get meets consumer expectations.

    Kia may have a better idea. You pay a bit more. But what you get vastly exceeds consumer expectations. It is a favorable shock, one that elicited joy and surprise from nearly everyone who got behind the wheel of the Optima SX.

    Ria Manglapus, who works with me on vehicle evaluations, was so happy that I was going to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and leaving the Optima SX in her hands, she drove me to the airport.

    "Wow!" she said. "What a car! I can't believe this is a Kia. Wow! Wow!"

    No one expressed that kind of joy over the 2011 Jetta. People were just happy that Volkswagen had reduced the car's price. But that happiness was tempered by the realization of the "de-contenting" that Volkswagen employed in getting to that price.

    At the media preview of the auto show here, the Kia stand was swarming with journalists excitedly examining the new Optima. But over at the Volkswagen display, they were puzzling over VW's introduction of a new midsize Passat family sedan. Their consensus: The new Passat is going to have to be priced just right and offer much more than consumers expect to top the Optima and its sibling Hyundai Sonata sedan in the marketplace. "
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    On the side view, the only significant differences are the styling of the C-pillar, and the bigger tail lamps on the Optima (more visible from the side). Amazing that a different C-pillar can make the difference between athletic and boring.

    I have a feeling VW was not going for "sporty" when they penned the new Passat. I think their target was more "luxury European sedan", even though the car is not priced in luxury territory. Maybe trying to get people to think they got something higher-end than what they paid for. Conservative styling is de rigueur at VW and has been for some time. So I really didn't expect a far-out styling exercise from VW on the new Passat.

    IMO, the styling of the Optima and Passat have more in common than they have differences. Maybe because Kia's styling meister came from Audi, which is also known for sedans with simple, clean lines.

    I read an article the other day about how Toyota's execs are now thinking they need to be more avant garde with styling, to stand out more in the ever-crowded and ever more competitive car market. VW must think there's still a lot of buyers who like conservatively-styled sedans. Sales numbers will tell us if they guessed right.
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaPosts: 4,737
    Great post dash. I agree with you on the appearance. While most sedans in this segment are pretty similar, it is small differences that are noticed. The new passat's styling is not offensive, but is quite bland and pedestrian. The Optima's windows and headlights are more aggressive, and the taillights are aggressive with the wraparound, while the passat's taillights are conservative.

    VW is nuts if they think they are going to win big market share with this strategy. Let's see - a decontented German car, bland styling, lousy dealer network, subpar reliability, and expensive repairs. The things we loved about VW (interiors, quality, styled a bit different) are gone, but the things we don't like (expensive repairs, dealers, reliability) are not fixed! Right, everybody will be flocking to buy these! :surprise:
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,162
    well, I like this passat way more than the current mile. And IMO, the exterior just needs to be repsectable looking (and nicely conservative is fine, since some "wow" designs don't age well). The interior is way more important in the design equation.

    so I am fine with that styling, especially in a darker color.

    and I don't really see why it is a big deal providing an entry level (aka cheap) model to get more buyers into the fold. Not like they will sell all that many anyway.

    IIRC, the prior generation offered a basic model. Cloth, no moonroof, manual seats, etc.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    edited January 2011
    Have you seen and sat in the new Passat, in order to determine the interior quality and overall quality is below that of the class? How does its content compare to the rest of the class? How does it drive? How reliable will this new design from the new US factory be?

    I don't know where you've been the past decade or so, but VWs haven't been anything special in the styling department for a long time. The previous-gen Jetta was compared to the Corolla, for example. And while the CC is quite fetching (as a lower-cost Mercedes knock-off), the previous Passat was pretty bland. As is almost every other car in this class... including the top sellers.

    Personally I am going to wait until I can see, sit in, and drive the new Passat (or at least read several professional test drive reports) before I decide whether VW is crazy or not.

    P.S. I love my local VW dealer. Have bought two cars from them. Great sales experiences, great service.

    P.P.S. The current Passat has average reliability according to CR.
  • IMHO Kia takes place of Pontiac in new world order. It is designed to look sporty, gauges I assume are red, suspension is artificially firmer and even lifeless electric steering is probably artificially heavier and etc. Of course Kia is higher quality and has more modern engines than Pontiac but it is the same approach as Pontiac - take Chevy and make it sporty looking. So take Hyudai make it looking sporty, add red gauges and driver oriented dash and you get "sport"-sedan. Of course there is nothing sporty about Optima, it looks sporty, true, but it is all about style. Did Pontiac survive? Kia is not going to put crappy interiors or pushrod engines in cars like Pontiac did but still it begs the question - will Kia survive, can it compete with Mazda and Ford? Eventually it will push both Ford and Mazda to come up with better designs. But Ford and Mazda will always make better designed and more sporty cars.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    edited January 2011
    Some of the posts supporting Kia over VW, are making assumptions in a few key areas I'd say. Does the Optima have the German taught yet compliant, quiet, confidence inspiring ride and handling? Has the VW retained those characteristics? I would wager it must have if it is to remain competitive.
    I also feel that having more engine choices within a model, affords exclusivity that the other has more difficulty competing with. Just having an optional diesel, is huge to many of those considering either of those cars. And on the same front, while the Korean 4 banger makes pretty decent power and torque, it is still only a 4 and will not run as smooth as the 5 cylinder. I also suspect that if you drove both spiritedly, the 2.5 will deliver better economy. There is an old replacement for displacement. And in this case that displacement also includes and entire extra cylinder to spread the chore around.

    Give me the one that doesn't have red lit instruments and controls...oh wait...they BOTH do :(

    What is this unbelievable attraction to red backlighting? Just let Audi be Audi and carry on the rest of us with white on blk or blk on white, or blk and blue. Soooo much easier on the eyes at night. And cars that have a mix of red in the centre with blue tach and they really think that looks natural and good? But don't get me wrong, I'll take as little red as i can get at the expense of good looks one way or the other...especially when the steering wheel controls are also glaring red in my face. There is nothing peaceful or comforting about that. Surely I'm not the only one that doesn't understand their decisions on this anything but smooth, uniform, warm interiors?

    And while I am on the verge of a rant...I wish they all would bring back individual ticks on the option page on these items. At least for these popular big ticket options...not everyone wants ALL of these, yet many of us want some.
    - sunroof
    - std vs auto
    - leather seats
    - heated seats - but don't make me buy leather...even if I might appreciate the smell, maybe I don't want to slide around in a seat at sometimes, and not want to sweaty-stick to it at others..
    - power seats - again, don't make me buy leather
    - auto dimming lights, especially both...just let me dim my own frig lights will ya??
    - nav
    - auto climate - I HATE this, cuz so few are executed right.
    - high end audio
    - rain sensing wipers...oh sure...the bridge that just dropped some drips out of my peripheral vision and didn't bother me in the least, just triggered the wipers to SMEAR that huge mother of a bug splat, that before, was also not bothering where I needed to see, but now I must stop at the next service centre and wash the whole thing down. All just because some frig techno-worker thinks that if they out-automate their content, that the idiots will buy it up.
    - any rim bigger than 17" - do NOT force me to buy those expensive huge wheels, auto climate and a sunroof, just because I want heated, power seating!!! And something few shoppers are aware of, big wheels require a total change in gearing in order to strike a good compromise with FE and 'go'. And if you think big wheels, what the big deal? Well consider that those in winter climates don't have the big rubber options in true winter tires, and if they do find them, be prepared to spend large.

    There are others but I'm sure you get the idea.

    Tell me the truth (now I fully expect there will be some rowers against the current) just how many here, would appreciate being able to mix and match and be able to check off those options all independently of each other?
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    The 3800 V6 pushrod motor was one of the best engines to ever come out of Detroit.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,162
    forget ala carte optioning. No one, certainly not an import, does that anymore.

    as to the red, BMW was the leader in this. There is actually a practical reason for it, in that it is easier for night vision (I believe it does not cause your eyes to react like white does). Pretty sure it is what airplanes use too, which is why BMW does it.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • dash5dash5 Posts: 417
    Yeah I agree they were likely not going for sporty, but I still think it's too sedate at least for my tastes. Then again I may not be the target audience. I think when you see what a splash the Sonata made, and that styling is what I'd call polarizing (although not as much as say the new Acura TL), you need a sharp look to win buyers since the practical aspects are so close now for all the competition in this segment. The red and blue pictures I posted the other day though it doesnt look half bad. I think it will do ok, just not an exciting car and not much to draw people in to try it.

    As for Toyota I actually think the Camry exterior is pretty good actually, it's just the interior that literally shocks me with how much I dont like it. This is true for more than just the Camry too, the Rav 4 interior compared to the Honda CRV interior is what swung the decision for us to get the CRV.
  • crkyolfrtcrkyolfrt Posts: 2,345
    Right, knew it was one of those German ideas.

    I sure don't agree it is easier at night. To my eyes, and others whom I have spoken with, it is harder to see.
    And even if you can dim down some of them, often they don't let you dim ALL of them.

    Really, with LED, it would be so EASY, to let the owner choose. Flick a switch for red, white or blue. So easy...
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,511
    The Optima certainly looks 'neater', but I have the feeling I'd rather be looking out of the Passat. The combination of the wide C pillar and low window on the Optima makes me worry about terrible rear visibility.

    But how many think this Passat plus the new Jetta will result in VW DOUBLING their sales the next several years, as predicted by their management??? I doubt it, extremely!
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