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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.

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