Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kia Optima Hybrid Another Advance for the Brand

I got a chance tonight to drive Kia's new Optima Hybrid. Just arriving in dealerships now, it offers another choice in the green midsize sedan field. While its 35 City, 40 Highway mileage is less than, say, a Prius, it is fully competitive with cars like the Camry Hybrid or the Ford Fusion Hybrid.

And what a nice package it is. I cruised along effortlessly hearing practically nothing. Like a full-time hybrid should do, it alternates between gas engine, electric motor or both--and neither at stops.

Kia has introduced seven new cars since the sporty Soul arrived in March of 2009, essentially remaking the brand. With exciting interior and exterior styling by led by former Audi designer Peter Schreyer, and lots of standard equipment for a good price, Kia has grown each of the 17 years since opening shop in the U.S. in 1994. Kia's market share, while small, has gone up significantly, making Kia one of the big success stories of the last few troubled years for the auto industry.

Prices are quite reasonable, starting at $27,250, including shipping, for the standard hybrid. With the $5,000 Hybrid Premium Technology Package, you get a panoramic sunroof, heated and cooled seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel, a navigation system and more.

I'll have more to say when I've spent a week with this car.

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