Phoenix Business Journal by Cathy Luebke, Guest blogger
The 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid.
If you are in the market for a midsize hybrid, the Kia Optima is a must for your test-drive list.
New for 2011, the Optima benefits from its all-gas twin’s redesign, which made the Kia a player in the sedan wars with snazzy design and bang for the buck. But while the family sedan market is extremely competitive, there are only a handful of hybrids in this class.
Ford Fusion and its sibling from Lincoln have strong pull with gas mileage of 41 in the city, 36 on the highway. But the Kia checks in at 35/40 — a little thriftier on the highway, along with its Sonata cousin over at Hyundai. And while Toyota Camry’s hybrid has fallen short in the past, its 2012 remake is expected to reach 43/39. Of course, those are only estimates, and it takes a light touch to hit the high marks.
The Optima hybrid starts at $27,250 (2011 price), including delivery fee, compared with $19,600 for the all-gas sedan, which is rated at 24/35 equipped with the 200-horsepower engine. The Fusion goes for about $1,000 more, and Toyota says the Camry will start at $27,810. Sorry, if you’re thinking about federal incentives, that program for hybrids ended at the start of 2011.
Staying true to Kia’s roots, the Optima hybrid is packed with features. It comes with a full lineup of safety features, dual-zone climate control, power driver’s seat, three months of satellite radio, a push-button starter, cruise control, backup camera, fog lamps and Kia’s UVO voice-activated system.
A long chime signals when the car turns on and off – otherwise a very quiet affair. It would be nice if you could change that sound, just like with ring tones.
Our tester added the $5,000 premium technology package, making the Optima quite a swanky ride. It adds goodies such as a panoramic sunroof, navigation, and heated and cooled leather seats.
Either way, though, the interior has a neat upscale look thanks to the model’s 2011 redesign. And the new exterior lines drew lots of compliments, with the hybrid adding a few unique touches.
Optima falls on the smaller end of midsize market, but both front and backseats are comfortable with roomy surrounds. The hybrid’s batteries, however, eat up a good chunk of trunk space.
A 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine combines with an electric motor to deliver a combined 206 horsepower. The Optima isn’t particularly fast or sporty, but it does the job and you can watch your miles per gallon hover in the 30-40 range. Designers even copied Ford’s leafy display, which grows with economical driving.
Kia Optima hybrid
Midsize gas-electric sedan
Base price: $27,250
MPG range: 35/40
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: 5 of 5 stars from front crash; 5 for side impact; 5 for rollover resistance; www.safercar.gov
Karp Kia (www.karpkia.com) is a division of Karp Automotive (www.karpauto.com), a family owned and operated dealership since 1957 located in Nassau County on the South Shore of Long Island in Rockville Centre, NY between Baldwin and Lynbrook, handling all Volvo, Buick, Saab, and Kia needs. Since its inception, Karp Automotive has made a commitment to upholding its core values of integrity and honesty. Karp is an active member of the community sponsoring many local outreach programs, community service projects, and community development initiatives. This has made Karp Automotive widely regarded as “the Auto Authority” and providing a superior ownership experience. As our customers would attest, there are many places a person can purchase a vehicle, but only here will you be treated like family by family.