Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kia Optima Hybrid--Beautiful but How Green?

I just finished up a very pleasant week with the new Kia Optima Hybrid. I'm impressed with it's overall quality, smoothness of operation, striking styling and roominess. I'm not sure I'm as excited about the fuel economy.

I earned 27.5 miles per gallon in about 400 miles of driving--much of it freeway at 65-70 mph. In my in-town driving, I did note some electric-only motoring (nice) but overall the car drives just like any other modern vehicle--nearly silent, ready to roll, neutral handling, and so on. You do feel a little of the switch from electric to gas under some circumstances, but it's not bothersome.

So what this mileage? The Optima Hybrid is comparable to the Toyota Camry Hybrid or Nissan Altima Hybrid--not the high mileage Prius. The EPA rates the Optima Hybrid at 35 City, 40 Highway. The Camry Hybrid is rated 31/35 (I got 31.5 mpg in a 2009 test car) and the Altima rates 33/33 (no real world numbers on that one yet). None of these cars claims the 50 mpg of a Prius so the Optima is sort of in the ballpark. I'd be interested to see how the numbers stack up over a longer test period.

The Greenhouse Gas scores from the EPA are all quite high--a good reason to drive a hybrid. The Optima gets 8 on both Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas (out of 10). The other two both get a virtually equivalent 9/8.

Meanwhile, Kias continue to amaze overall. I just with this one did a little better at the gas pump.

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