Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kia Optima Turbo - Impressive!

The Kia Optima is all-new for 2011, so I've taken the opportunity to drive all three flavors: "regular," Hybrid and Turbo.

I drove the Kia Optima Hybrid recently and although it was very pleasant and got great environmental scores from the EPA, the fuel economy, 27.5 mpg, seemed low for a hybrid. I just tested the Turbo this week and while it exhibits all the positives of the other two--stunning styling, apparent high quality interior, a smooth ride, near silence, this time, I had power too.

In urban life, most acceleration takes place at freeway onramps, and the Optima Turbo was happy to oblige. Even in quick corrections on the highway, or bursts during in-town traffic, this Optima gives a feeling of being in control.

All three Optimas use a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. The standard car gets 186 horsepower out of it while the Turbo boasts 274. That definitely makes a difference. The Hybrid mixes a 166-horsepower version of the engine with a 40.2 horsepower electric motor.

My test Turbo Optima got 22.5 mpg, notably less than the Hybrid, but felt much more muscular on a day-to-day basis.

You make the choice. The four-cylinder feels like a six but definitely pays off at the pump. And the car's aggressive good looks grow on you. Optimas start around $20,000.

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