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From Agnostic to Believer

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Nov 2, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Kia Optima Hybrid

By Harold Osmer I don’t know what sort of opinion you hold or held on Kia as an automobile company but I can tell you that I was firmly agnostic until this past week. I was pleasantly surprised as Kia’s Optima is a terrific mid-sized sedan. Nice-looking, solid feel, logical interior design, and just enough frills without the need for a couple of night classes to explain it all. Optima carries passengers with ease and comfort. The ride is positive, smooth, and as quiet as it should be. Visibility is high and the seats welcoming. There’s not much more to ask of a new car.


Optima is now into its third generation and shows what refinement and experience can do. Several engine packages are available. We tested the Hybrid, which has a 40 horsepower Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor working together with a 2.4-liter 166 horsepower four-cylinder gasoline engine for a combined 206 horsepower—ample for a car of this size. Kia’s hybrid system could use some work. Driving around town in (by default) ECO mode creates uneven power delivery and inconsistent shifting through the 6-speed automatic transmission. While we all adjust our driving styles to suit any given vehicle, the Optima Hybrid requires too much attention. ECO mode is more transparent on the freeway, though still doesn’t deliver on advertised EPA fuel mileage.


With ECO mode switched off, Optima is a very different car. The car comes to life with better acceleration, more predictable shift points, and is a much more dynamic driving experience. Granted, the hybrid option is not aimed at the sportier set. But when we boil down to the very basics of automobile function, the game is one of getting from Point A to Point B. Saving fuel and techno gimmicks don’t figure into it. I’ll bet that a Kia Optima in different trim (EX, SX, EX Turbo) will prove a better value than the hybrid version. It would certainly be more fun and less expensive. The new generation Kia Optima is a good car that compares favorably in its market segment. For more information about Kia products, go to


SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid Price: $26,500 (base) $27,250 (as tested) Standard features include: Cruise Control, power seats, ABS brakes, Bluetooth, Traction Control System EPA mileage estimates: 35 city/40 highway Engine type: 2.4L 4-cylinder Hybrid Interior Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor


Horsepower: 166 @ 6000 rpm 40.2 @ 0-1400 Electric Torque: 154 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm Performance: 0-60 mph 9.2 seconds top speed 123 (governed) Drive configuration: Front engine / front wheel drive Transmission type: 6-speed electronic automatic, w/manual shift mode Suspension: Front: Independent MacPherson Strut, coil springs, anti-roll bar Rear: Multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar Wheels and tires: 16-inch alloy wheels 205/65R16 Brakes: 11.8-inch Front Vented Disc 11.2-inch Rear Vented Disc ABS Overall length/wheelbase: 190.7 inches/110.1 inches Overall width: 72 inches Overall height: 57.3 inches 5 Year/60,000 mile Bumper to Bumper 10 Year/100,000 mile Powertrain 5 years/60,000 miles Roadside Assistance


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