There are some really good cars in this category so coming third isn’t anything to be scoffed at. Kia Optima GT took the winner’s gong last year but refreshed Mazda6 and Subaru Liberty models pushed it to third this time. Optima scored particularly well in areas such as safety, seating comfort and performance. Kia’s industry-leading seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty meant the highest score for warranty and dealer access in the class, which emphasises the car company’s commitment to the Australian market. Optima was only rivalled by Honda Accord with its class-leading standard features score, and it is apparent when behind the wheel that the equipment list is very generous. An item of note is Kia’s wisdom to include a full-size matching spare wheel. On the road, the Optima’s willing 2.0-litre turbo-charged petrol engine changes the perception that this car is only about comfort and style, because it is one nimble, surefooted touring sedan, pleasantly surprising most drivers the first time they get behind the wheel. Optima GT challenges this category with refinement, technology, safety, plenty of standard features plus a sense of quality and an above-average drive. It’s probably only let down by below-average fuel consumption and its relatively high starting price.