Friday, March 23, 2012

Kia Optima Hybrid is a Stylish Fuel Sipper

The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid takes the Korean automaker yet a step further in its quest to offer some of the best-equipped and most affordable cars on the market.

This model matches a 30-kilowatt electric motor with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine to make an impressive 206 horsepower.

The motor, mounted on the transmission, works with a six-speed automatic transmission, rather than an electrically variable transmission which is usually found in hybrids.

The Optima Hybrid can run on electric-only power with light acceleration and sufficient battery charge. For pedestrian safety, the Optima Hybrid makes simulated engine noise when the car is running on electricity, allowing people walking nearby to hear it.

Fuel economy is rated at a stellar 35 mpg city and 40 highway.
The electric motor gains power from a lithium-polymer battery mounted behind the rear seat, which affects rear seat space. Trunk volume also declines, to 9.9 cubic feet; a regular Optima has 15.4 cubic feet.

On the back, there is a hybrid badge, and other differentiating cues for the hybrid include aerodynamic 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels, small differences on the grille and front lights and a small rear trunk spoiler. Kia has added aerodynamic improvements such as lower bumper extensions and reduced ride height.
A power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and keyless access with push-button start are standard. Optional are heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic moonroof and a navigation system with a backup camera.

The test drive model had a sticker price of $27,250.

The Kia Optima Hybrid presents a great value in a midsize sedan, with wonderful fuel economy and attractive styling.  

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