Best medium car under $50,000 - Kia Optima GT

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The value Kia has packed into the upgraded Optima has helped it beat all comers this year. As well, Optima’s design and engineering have come of age and it can now genuinely be compared with the high-end Japanese makes.

Kia has got the performance, ride and handling pretty well right in Optima, thanks to the combination of the powerful turbo-petrol engine and 6spd auto (although this comes at the expense of fuel economy). Add an industry-leading seven-year transferable warranty and class-leading standard features and Optima is a winner.

Given Optima is the most expensive car in the class, Kia must get the quality right, and it starts with safety. The entire Optima range has active cruise control, lane- departure warning, high-beam assist and autonomous emergency braking. The GT adds blind-spot detection and rear-cross traffic alert. Other features such as heated and cooled leather seats, sat-nav with traffic information and a wireless Android phone charger complete the premium feel. Plus the cabin is rather quiet.

There’s good front and rear head and leg room. A wider opening allows access to quite a spacious boot, and there’s a full-sized spare wheel in the cargo area.