The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid. Photo courtesy of Kia Motors America.

A quick look at the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid

The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid is an attractive option in the hybrid sedan segment, one that is still growing despite several months of relatively stable gasoline prices. With an EPA rating of 40-mpg highway and a base price of $25,700, this vehicle warrants the hybrid buyer's consideration.

From it’s attractive exterior to a well-equipped dashboard and comfortable interior, The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid shows the brand is ready to aggressively compete in this widening field of hybrid vehicles.

Exterior

From a sleep mask shaped grill, dividing HID projector auto-leveling headlamps, to a fascia with a mildly menacing grin, the hybrid vehicle features crisp, clean lines running back to a classically sloped rear window. Bottom flares on the doors are protective while blending into the slippery aerodynamics of the sedan.

In the rear, striking red taillights ringed with LEDs cross the trunk lid aesthetically, while additional strip lights are placed just below the bumper. Double five spoke 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels complete the car’s attractive exterior and 17-inch wheels come as an option.

The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid comes with fog lamps in front and a rear deck lip spoiler standard. If you frequent busy malls or shopping centers, the optional power-folding sideview mirrors might help protect your investment.

Safety, interior and technical features
The hybrid sedan features two-stage front, seat-mounted front and full-length side curtain airbags. It addition it comes standard with ABS, traction and stability control, as well as hill assist and tire pressure monitoring.

The optional sport leather and cloth seat trim looks sharp and compliments the optional heated and cooled front seats – a great comfort in climates with hot summers and cold winters. A power lumbar control is sometimes missing in many sedans and/or commuters cars under $30K, but shows up as a refreshing standard feature in the Kia.

Many brands make floor mats an optional charge as well, but not so Kia – floor mats are also part of the standard equipment.

An easy to use cruise control is at right, while audio and media controls are at left on the leather-wrapped, articulated steering wheel. Having the cruise control switches right at your right thumb makes using the feature in heavy traffic much easier than a steering wheel wand activated system. A heated steering wheel is another option in the Premium Technology Package.

Push button starting compliments the usual audio system with Bluetooth, USB, AUX and a three-month subscription to SiriusXM radio. An optional Infinity 8-speaker sound system boosts it up to concert hall audio reproduction. Eight Infinity speakers in a sedan this size will seriously rock your world.

Performance

Most hybrids are designed for the confirmed urbanite, providing the best efficiency on city streets. The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid is a good choice for the driver who does the most commuting on intercity freeways, as it gets 5 more miles per gallon at highway speeds.
This would seem to indicate this hybrid leans a little more on the gasoline engine, using the electric motor to augment its mileage, thus it still get better efficiency at higher speeds.

The Optima Hybrid has a 2.4-liter DOHC, 16-valve 4-cylinder engine developing 206 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 195 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,250 coupled to a six-speed electronically controller transmission.

The permanent magnet synchronous electric motor is configured in full parallel format and contributes 40 hp to the drive output from 1.400 to 6,000 rpm.

The 3,490 lb. vehicle rides on a wheelbase of 110.4 inches and has the typical Kia suspension utilizing MacPherson struts up front, multi-link in the rear with anti-roll and coil springs front and back. Power assisted, rack and pinion steering provides steady tracking and handling.

The 206 hp of the engine and motor combined allows the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid accelerate smoothly up to highway speeds, providing a surprisingly comfortable and easy to handle drive over the 60 miles from the Colorado Off Road Extreme site last week to the Holiday Inn DIA where the third annual Rocky Mountain Driving Experience wrapped up.

This is a unique hybrid at an attractive price point and worth a look since not everyone has been lulled to sleep by a few months of stable gas prices. That the price of gas will ultimately start to climb again is as reliable and sure a thing as the sun will rise tomorrow and taxes will still be owed.

There are many reasons Kia is celebrating 17 years of increasing sales and the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid is one of them.

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