Kia has been improving on design and quality over the past few years, and there’s no better vehicle to showcase these changes than the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid Premium.
When Kia first came to the US, they produced cheap cars that weren’t exactly known for their build quality. But what a difference a few years makes! Today’s Kia’s are world-class vehicles that can compete with the best of them, and their biggest challenge is getting people to give them a second chance.
Case in point, the 2012 Kia Optima. This stylish midsize sedan competes in a crowded market, with people cross-shopping the Optima against cars like the Hyundai Sonata, Buick Verano, Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 200, Dodge Dart, Honda Accord, Mazda 6, and countless others.
I’ve driven most of those cars, and I can honestly say that I’d take the Kia over any of them! Sounds crazy, I know, but that just goes to show you how far Kia has come.. The Kia Optima Hybrid really fires on all cylinders. It’s a great looking car inside and out.
The exterior styling is subtle but sporty, with an aggressive front fascia, a rear lip spoiler, and a blacked-out roof that’s really sharp looking. The only thing I didn’t like was those flying-saucer looking alloy wheels, but they can be easily replaced.
The leather-clad interior offers up accommodations you just don’t see at this price point. Our loaner had every option imaginable, including a UVO in-vehicle infotainment system, NAV w/ rear camera display and Sirius traffic, Infinity audio system, panoramic sunroof, power folding outside mirrors, auto dimming rearview with Homelink and compass, driver’s seat memory, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel.
In addition, the rear seats offer a tremendous amount of room – Even Blake Griffin would be comfortable back there! Trunk space was reasonable for a hybrid, keeping in mind that the battery pack takes up some space back there.
The performance of the Kia Optima Hybrid is what surprised me the most. This car sips fuel like a hybrid (delivering 35 mpg city / 40 mpg highway), but it doesn’t drive like one.
The Optima’s 2.4L 4-cylinder hybrid engine puts out 206 HP and 195 lb-ft of torque, transfering that power to the ground through a 6-speed Sportmatic transmission. You’re not going to win any stoplight races, but the car provides more than adequate power for most people.
With a 17.2 gallon fuel tank, you can go almost 700 miles before refueling (assuming you’re getting the advertised 40MPG). We averaged 35MPG in a mix of city and highway driving, which is still almost double what my daily driver gets!
The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid will make you look at hybrids in a new light, showing you that you don’t have to sacrifice style or performance in the name of being fuel economy. Being green never looked so good!
2012 Kia Optima Hybrid Premium:
Base Price: $25,700
As-Tested Price: $32,630
More Information: http://www.kia.com/optima-hybrid/