Kia has a reputation for building economical cars that have plenty of tech equipped. The Optima, Kia’s mid-size offering, is generally equipped with as much tech, safety, and comfort features as you could possibly want. On top of having earned top ratings from the safety agencies in every market where it is sold, the Optima features a surprisingly responsive engine. The 2.4L powerhouse found in the upgraded Optima EX boasts 165 hp, all of which seem immediately available when you press the accelerator. The EX trim level adds automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a power driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and Kia’s HomeLink service.
The engine did provide significant torque, but couldn’t muster the power of its cousin from Japan. The iron block would hold significant power with forced induction, but the single camshaft just wouldn’t cooperate as much. Fans of the 240SX chassis were happy after two years of dull performance when the dual camshaft KA24DE replaced the single camshaft E engine.
The Mazda RX7 had a huge fan base which was deeply saddened when the RX7 left US shores in 1995. Nine years later, that fan club waived the banner that a new RX platform was coming in the form of the RX8 with the 13B Renesis naturally aspirated engine. The cheers didn’t last long, though, as the Renesis turned out to be a real dud.
Honda built the CR-Z for the 2010 through 2016 model years. The CR-Z was powered by a hybrid drive system throughout its production run. The system combines a 1.5L SOHC i-VTEC gasoline engine and an MF6 electric engine. The result is a powerplant that offers a combined 130 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque. The standard gearbox is a six-speed manual, but a CVT is optional. We would recommend buying a unit with the manual transmission for the added driving experience. If driven properly, a CR-Z with a manual transmission is capable of nearly 40 mpg on the highway.