Kia Optima
Kia Optima
2011 sales: 84,590

Kia is like the candidate with poor poll results at a Republican presidential debate: It never gets any visibility because of its low numbers and thus never gets to chance to move up. That may be about to change. With a three-fold increase in sales, Optima made the biggest jump in the mid-size segment last year. Built from the same basics as its sister car, the Hyundai Sonata, the Optima could help propel Kia to center stage.

By Alex Taylor III, senior editor-at-large @FortuneMagazine - Last updated January 25 2012: 6:21 AM ET
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