It seems as though I always find something wrong with each of the hybrids that have hit the market over the last few years. One is too small, another too expensive. This time, Kia gets it right with the totally hot, hyper fuel efficient 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid Sedan. Motor Trend calls it "bold and athletic looking", I call it picture perfect.
Designed by Peter Schreyer, known for his simple yet elegant shapes and forms, this modern, midsize sedan looks nothing like a hybrid but delivers fuel efficiency, comfort and the features of a high priced sedan we all want. Being the car buff that I am, I can't help but look at this ride and want to get behind the wheel.
"Since arriving in showrooms in late 2010, the all-new Optima's combination of stylish design, upscale features and remarkable safety have attracted new customers to the Kia brand, and with gas prices continuing to rise the arrival of our first hybrid model will continue our unprecedented growth and momentum," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO, KMA and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia. "With a starting price under $27,000, the Optima Hybrid provides fuel-conscious shoppers with an outstanding value proposition by being priced below nearly all midsize hybrid competitors and delivering class-leading fuel economy along with head-turning style and advanced technologies."
The Optima Hybrid is the first of Kia's vehicles to offer their proprietary UVO powered by Microsoft® which gives hybrid owners a hands-free (gotta love that for safety), voice-activated infotainment and communications system. Paired with the AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system, the UVO features a rear-view camera, SIRIUS® Satellite Radio capabilities (with three free months of service), auxiliary and USB audio input jacks for connecting with MP3 players and Bluetooth® wireless technology connectivity with steering wheel-mounted controls. Based on Windows Embedded Auto Software, UVO is an easy-to-use hands-free solution that allows drivers and passengers to answer and place phone calls, receive and respond to SMS text messages, access music from a variety of media sources and create custom music experiences. The UVO is just one more reason this hybrid ride works well for everyone in the family from teens to Facebook fanatics.
The 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid works by using a full parallel hybrid system that can be driven in zero emission (can you say bye bye pollution?), full-electric drive mode at speeds of up to 62 miles per hour. In blended gas-electric mode it goes as fast or as slow as you need it to. When the Optima Hybrid comes to a stop and the electrical load is low, the engine shuts off to completely eliminate idle fuel consumption and emissions. Nifty.
Priced at $26,500, the Optima Hybrid adds to the extensive list of standard convenience features and stylish appointments found on the well-equipped Optima LX A/T trim with high end features such as: eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, dual zone automatic temperature control with rear vents, push-button start with smart key, SupervisionTM meter cluster with LCD display, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, one-touch automatic up/down on front windows, chrome interior door handles, glove box illumination, rear reading lamps, and fixed rear seats with ski pass-through. And check this out, the Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS), standard on the Optima Hybrid, plays a pre-recorded engine sound during electric-only operation to help notify people outside the vehicle that it is approaching. Nice.
Consumers who select the Optima Hybrid with the available Hybrid Premium Technology Package, priced at $5,000, will enjoy additional comfort and convenience features, including: panoramic sunroof, unique 17-inch alloy wheel design, four-way power adjustable front passenger's seat, driver's seat memory, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel, HID headlamps with automatic leveling, leatherette-wrapped center fascia, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with HomelinkTM and compass, a navigation system with back-up camera and SIRIUS TrafficTM9 , and an eight-speaker Infinity®10 audio system (these available features replace the UVO system).
Like all Kia vehicles, the 2011 Optima Hybrid is well equipped with
a high level of standard safety features
- six airbags11 (dual advanced front and front-seat mounted side as well as full-length side curtain)
- front active headrests
- side-impact door beams
- height-adjustable front seatbelts with pre-tensioners with three-point seatbelts for all seating positions
- Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH)
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
- Four-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a Traction Control System (TCS), a Brake Assist System (BAS) and Hill Assist Control (HAC) also are standard
I dare you to try to find another car, let alone a hybrid, that offers all of these bells and whistles as part of your deal. It's just not out there. Kia totally hit the ball out of the park with their very first try at a hybrid. Congratulations Kia, you deserve all of the accolades you're getting for this hybrid and more. Consumers have been waiting for the perfect green living ride and you made the wait worthwhile.
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