THE 2012 KIA OPTIMA HYBRID REVIEW
Summary Review by Tess: Low-End Performance Limits Its Appeal
The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid is one of the least expensive entries in the rapidly growing hybrid marketplace. Excellent fuel economy is just one of the appealing features of the Kia Optima; its sleek exterior lines and comfortable interior ensure that this midsize sedan offers more than mere practicality for buyers. A nice selection of standard features and ample passenger and cargo space add to the Optima Hybrid’s desirability, but at the same time, a lack of performance hinders its overall appeal.
Under the hood
The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid features a combination of a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine and a 30-kilowatt electric motor. This technologically advanced engine system incorporates a Virtual Engine Sound System that plays engine noises when the vehicle is in full electric mode to alert pedestrians that the vehicle is close by. The hybrid engine produces a combined 206 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard on the Kia Optima Hybrid, and a six-speed shiftable automatic transmission is the only available choice for buyers. As expected, the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid offers excellent fuel economy. EPA estimates indicate that the Optima Hybrid can go 35 miles on one gallon of gas in city driving and 40 miles per gallon on the highway. Antilock brakes and stability control are standard safety features on the Kia Optima Hybrid.
(See the estimated annual fuel cost numbers for the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid.)
Inside the cabin
The interior of the Kia Optima cabin is spacious and well appointed with high quality materials and comfortable seating. Standard features include daylight headlights, power accessories, air conditioning, cruise control, power adjustable driver’s seat, rearview camera, and a deluxe CD sound system. Keyless entry and ignition are also available as standard features on the Optima Hybrid. Options include an upgraded sound system, heated front and rear seats, and full leather upholstery.
On the road
In most road conditions, the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid delivers quiet, fuel-efficient performance. At low speeds, however, the Optima’s Hybrid engine may fail to provide enough power for smooth shifting and easy acceleration. This can prove inconvenient for drivers stuck in stop-and-go city traffic and can even constitute a hazard in some driving situations.
The low price tag and exceptional fuel economy of the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid sedan will attract a number of buyers. However, poor performance at low speeds may reduce its appeal for drivers who spend a significant amount of time in slow-paced city traffic.
Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder hybrid
Horsepower & Torque: 206 hp/195 lb-ft
Transmission: FWD six-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Economy: 35/40
0 to 60 mph: 8.4 seconds
Base MSRP: $25,700
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