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First Test: 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid


The big fallacy regarding Korean cars goes something like this: Korean vehicles are cheaply priced and built. Kia is a Korean automaker. Therefore, all Kias are attractively priced but questionably constructed. As the company's first dedicated ecocar, the 2011 KIA OPTIMA Hybrid is yet another stab at debunking that fallacy.

Starting from $27,250 (including a $750 destination and handling fee), the KIA OPTIMA Hybrid is one of the most expensive Kias you can get today. Comfortably equipped from the get-go, our tester arrived with the optional $5000 Hybrid Premium Technology Package, bringing the cost to $32,250 and adding features like a panoramic sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, HID headlights, and an eight-speaker Infinity sound system.

 Now, the sheetmetal. Generally speaking, hybrids aren't supposed to look this way; look at the alpha dog Toyota Prius and its near doppelgänger, the Honda Insight. At first innocent glance, you could mistake the KIA OPTIMA Hybrid for possessing Teutonic origins, which isn't a huge surprise considering Kia's head designer is Peter Schreyer, formerly of Audi. Aside from the flat-face alloys, lightly retouched front and rear fascias, hybrid badging, and ride height that is 0.2-inch lower than the base and turbo Optimas, there's little to visually distinguish the hybrid.

Ah, but hybrids are all about delivering a certain driving experience, you say, one that will resonate heartily within the green movement. Over the years, hybrid drivers have gotten accustomed to the characteristics of the continuously variable transmission, the whine of the electric motor, and fuel savings that have OPEC sweating. The mechanicals are there, and slowly but surely, hybrids are gaining ground. Kia is going all in.

(Source)


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