Many of you probably remember when I posted about my test drive experience with the 2012 Kia Sorento SX. Well, I had so much fun driving that brand spanking new vehicle and was so impressed with how far Kia has come in the last 10 years, that I persuaded them to let me try another car for a week. Yes!
This time they let me drive the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid with the Premium Technology Package and the Hybrid Convenience Package. Quite honestly, after being inside both the Sorento and the Optima, I’m not sure how I can not get leather in my next vehicle. Especially thinking about the mess that children make; I’ve had many friends tell me they wish they had leather, and it looks really good in the Optima, as you can see.
I think the new Optima look is quite sleek as well. I had a number of friends and neighbors make the comment that they thought the car looked really nice. It has the 15″ tires with alloy wheels, which, quite frankly, doesn’t mean a whole lot to me – I just know that it looks good! And the folding mirror is something I can’t get enough of – love it!
If you’re wondering about the performance and safety of the 2012 Kia Optima, here are some of the highlights I found to be important:
- Dual front and full-length side curtain airbags
- 5 Star frontal crash government safety rating and 5 Star rollover rating
- SIRUIS Satellite Radio w/ free 3 month subscription (standard)
- BLUETOOTH wireless technology for hands-free driving
- Push Button Start with Smart key (in addition to just pushing a button to start the car, this also means you just push a button on the car door to get in – you don’t need to rifle through your purse to open the door!)
- Because it’s a Hybrid, it also gets a Global Warming score of 9 out of 10 and a Smog score of 8 out of 10
- 2.4 L 4 Cylinder Hybrid Engine
Which brings me to the actual driving experience of the car. I don’t know if you’ve ever driven a Hybrid before, but this was my first time. It’s also the only Hybrid I’ve driven, so I really don’t know what to compare it to. But I will say this was the most uneasy aspect of my review. When you turn on the vehicle, only the electric portion of the car is on. When you put the car in drive, the car responds much like an electric golf cart responds – slowly and with a “metallic” type of sound. It took quite a bit of getting used to, I’m not going to lie.
But here’s the number that makes the “getting used to” aspect of the Hybrid well worth it – 40 MPG (35 around town). While I’m sure I didn’t totally take advantage of all of the gadgetry, it was fun to view all the different “ECO-screens” that would tell me how efficiently the car was running, whether or not it was using electric or gas, and my favorite screen – Distance to Empty. It started with 515 miles, and I don’t care what vehicle you’re in, it’s nice to know you can go 500+ miles without worrying about filling up!
I guess the biggest thing you’ll have to decide is whether or not the fuel efficiency is worth the price tag. This model came in at around $32,500. However, you can save roughly $6000 by choosing to keep the Premium Technology Package off, but you’ll miss out on the rear camera display, panoramic sunroof folding outside mirrors, leather, and one of my favorites, heated and cooled front seats, to name a few.
Here’s how I would rate the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid:
Vehicle Design and Look – 5 stars out of 5. The Optima looks great. Not just because I think so, but every single one of our friends thought the car looked “hot.”
Vehicle Quality – 4 stars out of 5. The craftsmanship on the Optima is every bit was wonderful as the Sorento. I am in love-love-love with the leather, and the off-color trim makes it all the better. One thing I would like to see an improvement on is the gear shift. I find it’s too easy to go into the Sportmatic Transmission Mode, especially when I don’t want to! I do love the 10-year 100,000 powertrain warranty though, just in case.
Vehicle Technology – 5 stars out of 5. Gadgets galore! There isn’t enough time to play with everything in the Optima, but the iPod connect and Voice Command are two of my favs. And what woman won’t appreciate the one-touch unlocking feature? I love that I don’t have to find the keys are are invariably in the bottom of my purse to open the car door.
Vehicle Performance – 3 stars out of 5. Maybe it’s just me, but it was hard to get used to the Hybrid feature, after having driven on gas vehicles my entire life. The engine is still a little small, so “gunning it” in traffic would not be something I would suggest, as it may not respond the way you want. That said, who can argue with the gas mileage?
Overall Score – 4.25 stars out of 5.
Hope this is helpful! I would love to get some feedback from other Hybrid drivers and get your opinion on your vehicles.
This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.