The KIA brand is not just an up and comer but is also attracting the much needed attention of the public at large according to Edmunds. [fimg=right]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2011_Kia_Optima1.jpg[/fimg]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Dec. 4, 2010 The 2011 Kia Optima –The 11 Sonata with a hip-hop flair and $18,995 to start. On the Heels of last month’s ALG pronouncement that the 2011 Kia Optima is expected to achieve a residual value of 53% of its original MSRP after 36 months of ownership (a stellar number that is 66% higher than the previous generation Optima) and the all-new Optima Hybrid reveal at the LA Auto Show Press Event, Edmunds somehow deduced that the all-new 2011 Kia Optima received the highest increase in online car shopper consideration of any other vehicle or brand at the show. The Optima, which arrived in showrooms in late November, saw a boost in consumer interest and consideration from 3.2 percent prior to the show to as high as 15 percent following Kia Motors America's (KMA) press conference on November 17. The numbers represent the percentage of shoppers considering cars in the midsize category who researched a vehicle's information at Edmunds. Edmunds analysis examines the daily consideration data on the models highlighted at the LA Auto Show's Press Event on November 17 and November 18 as consumers shopped for more than 400 models listed on the site. Consideration data indicates the effectiveness of marketing, including presence at auto shows, and may suggest future sales. [fimg=left]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2011_Kia_Optima_Hybrid.jpg[/fimg]Kia’s Transformation – From Caterpillar to Butterfly Kia Optima Hybrid - Projected to cost less than $25,000 to start while providing 36/40 mpgUS city/highway per the 08 EPA. Just like its parent Hyundai, Kia is in the midst of a metamorphosis of sorts which has been delivering dynamically styled vehicles in several important segments at exactly the right time which in turn provide gains in U.S. market share. Kia is poised to continue its momentum and will continue to build the brand through design innovation, quality, value, safety features and new technology such as the soon-to-come UVO powered by Microsoft (think of it as SYNC on Steroids) in-car hands-free entertainment system. The launches of the 2011 Sorento (the first vehicle to be assembled at Kia's first U.S.-based manufacturing facilities in West Point, Georgia), the dynamic 2011 Sportage compact CUV, sophisticated 2011 Optima midsize sedan and versatile 2011 Forte 5-door hatchback further enhance the lineup. Another interesting twist is even though Kia/Hyundai have for the most part essentially the same lineup with tweaks, their PR staff are almost completely separate from one another. They truly do act as seperate companies with one going for the bread and butter of middle America (Hyundai) and KIA going after the younger “In-Crowd” with its hip hop commercials and youth oriented directed advertising. We will have to follow Kia a little more closely as time moves on given they provide a unique perspective when it comes to designing and marketing mainstream cars with a flair all their own. Where this will lead in terms of Kia's future is anyone's guess but from their recent sales resurgence and nice looking product lineup, Kia just like Hyundai is a company to watch. Kia Optima Hybrid Interior A pic from within the 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid just minutes after the Optima Hybrid reveal in LA last month.