Inhabitat recently test drove the new Kia Optima Hybrid, one of a few dozen new hybrid vehicles set to hit the market over the next year or two. We didn't expect much in terms of efficiency or style, seeing as how Kia is a budget brand, but boy did this car surprise us. Our runs in the Optima Hybrid averaged nearly 40 miles per gallon--hardly what you would get from the mild hybrid we were expecting--and a friend even commented that the style had hints of Aston Martin. That's pretty high praise, but come along with us for a little ride to find out why the Kia Optima Hybrid surpassed nearly all our expectations and makes our list of decent options for green drivers.
Why are we suddenly going ga ga over a Kia? It’s more than surpassed expectations and real value in an inexpensive hybrid. The Optima Hybrid is a sign of things to come. Until this point, car makers have struggled to fit a decent number of comforts in a hybrid vehicle while keeping the price down and the performance up. But if Kia can do it, others have to follow. We’ll have to wait and see about the longterm reliability of the Optima, but it feels solid, not at all like the mockup of a luxury car that you might expect. The $26,500 starting price suddenly buys you 40+ mpg and all the bells and whistles you could want in a sporty looking hybrid. If the Optima isn’t your cup of tea, you can bet another automaker is working on your car for the right price as we speak.