The Kia Optima Hybrid: defying the stereotypes

Kia Optima Hybrid

When you think of a hybrid, what comes to mind?  Probably a small, futuristic-looking car that glides to a stop and doesn't make any noise.  The last thing you'd think of is a sleek sports sedan, but that's exactly what showed up at our home the day I was scheduled to start testing the Kia Optima Hybrid.  In fact, when I told the family a couple of weeks ago that I'd be reviewing a Kia Optima Hybrid, they were distinctly unimpressed.  Jammy said he wasn't really interested in any eco-friendly car except the Tesla, and if he had a choice of cars to review, he'd pick a Maclaren.

Ha.  After a week with the Optima, it looks like Jammy is the most devastated at the thought of parting ways with it!  We've really grown to love the Optima; it's definitely not your typical hybrid!  Here's a list of ways the Kia Optiima Hybrid defies the stereotypes:

Hybrids are small
The smaller cars use less fuel, so hybrids are small and cramped, right?  Wrong.  The Optima is extremely roomy, with lots of legroom even for the rear passengers.  The kids had no problem fitting into the back seat, and I'd say even 3 adults wouldn't feel too cramped.  Even the trunk space was huge, despite the fact that the electric battery took up a bit of real estate.
Kia Optima Hybrid

Hybrids are underpowered
The Optima has an Eco-boost setting that you can activate for even more fuel efficiency, but when you're in regular mode, the accelerator packs plenty of punch.
Kia Optima Hybrid

Hybrids look dorky
Even Jammy, my sportscar fanatic, was impressed with the low-slung styling of the Optima Hybrid ("It looks just like a Tesla!" was his first comment) and its sporty wheels.  The Optima Hybrid is sleek and elegant even for a regular midsize sedan, let alone a hybrid.
Kia Optima Hybrid

Hybrids are for cost-conscious consumers
The Optima Hybrid is just as luxurious inside as it is on the outside. The model we tested had leather seats (with heated and ventilated front seats), a panoramic sunroof, voice command navigation and Sirius XM radio.
Kia Optima Hybrid

Hybrids get great gas mileage
Okay, this is one stereotype that is 100% true! The Kia Optima Hybrid gets gets an estimated mileage of 35–36 city / 39–40 hwy. I drove the Optima Hybrid for a week, sticking to my normal driving patterns (soccer carpools, grocery runs, etc..), and couldn't even manage to finish a quarter tank of gas!  Actually, I ended up taking the car to places I'd normally walk to (like school, which is about half a mile away!), and I still used up way, way less gas that I would with my van!
Kia Optima Hybrid

Hybrids are hi-tech
Okay, this is another spot-on stereotype.  We had so much fun exploring the display features of the Optima Hybrid!  We were so fascinated by the graphics showing us how power switched from the gas engine to the battery and vice versa, and every drive became like a video game, with all the kids determined to get the Optima Hybrid's eco-friendly meter up as high as possible!  It really got all of us thinking about how we drive and how we can save gas and reduce our carbon footprint just by modifying driving habits.  So cool!

If you're in the market for a hybrid, check out the Kia Optima Hybrid (starting MSRP $25,900–$31,950).   Come to think of it, check it out if you're in the market for any car!

Disclosure: I was loaned a Kia Optima Hybrid to test drive for a week, courtesy of STI.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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