Heels On Wheels: 2011 KIA Optima Hybrid Review +VIDEO


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2011 Kia Optima Hybrid

SEE ALSO: Kia Buyers Guide
SEE ALSO: Perfect New Car Match

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel


INTRO TO THE KIA OPTIMA HYBRID VEHICLE
A truly attractive and sporty redesign puts the 2011 Kia Optima as one sough-after mid-size sedan choice. It has a 2.4-liter hybrid engine under the hood that gets a combined fuel economy of 37 miles-per-gallon. And the Optima Hybrid is loaded with modern technology goodies like Bluetooth and steering wheel controls at even the base level.

I drove a 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid that features a 166-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine combined with a Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor with 40.2 horsepower – altogether 206.2 horsepower. The Optima Hybrid also sports a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include: dual-zone climate control; an infotainment system; Sirius Radio; USB and auxiliary input jacks; a leather-wrapped steering wheel; Bluetooth; power driver’s seat; and push-button start. Cost here is $26,500. My test drive had $5,000 worth of options that included: a navigation system with a back-up camera; an upgraded Infinity audio system; panoramic sunroof; 17-inch wheels; HID headlights with auto leveling feature; leather-trimmed seats; heated and cooled front seats; heated steering wheel; and a power front passenger’s seat. Total price then came to $31,500.

Kia is the sister brand to Hyundai, yet both produce equally attractive and capable vehicles. That means the Optima Hybrid is on par with the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid sedan, which sells for $25,795 at base with an identical $5,000 optional package. It really comes down to the most favorable exterior design.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Second time around with the exterior design; as I’ve driven the Optima with the Gasoline Direct Injection engine; I appreciated the edgy contours much more versus the Sonata’s straightforward aerodynamic lines. The Optima has a very driver-centric dashboard that is actually titled to the driver. Screen graphics are incredibly vivid. The rear seats are nicely crafted with an athletic feel. The panoramic sunroof gives an even larger sense of space. A baby seat strapped in the back does not compromise the front passenger’s leg space.

Reliability & Safety Factor: This is one safe sedan. The 2011 Kia Optima is a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The vehicle also has a 5-star rating in every category from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Cost Issues: A $5,000 upgrade package sounds expensive, but it tilts the total price tag just north of $30k. You see what a noticeable difference it makes inside the cabin on the comfort and convenience front. The navigation screen offers incredibly sharp colors and images.

Activity & Performance Ability: As the hybrid powertrains are identical, performance with the Optima is the same as the Sonata’s: Both possess a surprising punch, but the power isn’t entirely smooth with some lag time at stops. A useful trip computer helps you drive more efficiently by showing your average speed, average and instant fuel consumption, and miles to empty. The Optima also a “Virtual Engine Sound System,” which plays a pre-recorded engine sound during electric-only operation to notify people outside the vehicle is approaching.

The Green Concern: At 37 miles-per-gallon combined, go ahead and get your thrills while revving around the corners and stepping on the gas.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid does just about everything right with this hybrid, but there are some powertrain kinks to work out. However, you’ll still be impressed by this new breed of gas-and-electric powered sedans that does deliver immediate and quick acceleration and an overall sporty performance. /p>
Watch the 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid Unveil At 2010 LA Auto Show

2011 Katrina Ramser


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