What Makes The Kia Optima Hybrid A Solid Choice

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid
2014 Kia Optima Hybrid.
Hard to believe that it's been four model years (2011, 2012, 2013 and now 2014) since the introduction of the current-generation Kia Optima.  Long a blandly-styled staple of rental fleets, the sleek, slick and super-sized new Optima knocked a lot of peoples' socks off and turned up the volume of the increasingly common question "No, seriously...that's a Kia?"

The Hybrid has been part of the lineup since '11, and we liked it a lot then.

Rear view of 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid
2014 Kia Optima Hybrid.

So what's changed in the not-quite-two-and-a-half-years since that review?  Not much, really.  There have been some styling refreshes...mainly the grille and taillamps.  And while the EPA city mileage estimate remains the same at 35, the highway estimate has lost an mpg, from 40 to 39.

Still.  An impressive number for a large, spacious and fairly quick family sedan.

2014 Kia Optima Hybrid interior.
The interior still looks good four years in...the driver-oriented cockpit puts every control readily at hand, the gauges are clear and readable, and the seats are comfy.

Plus...you get a lot for your money.  Our tester was the Optima Hybrid EX. Base price, $31,950.  But that (apart from $775 freight and handling) was where it began and ended.  This was a loaded car with everything standard...17-inch alloy wheels, the full set of airbags, traction control, stability control, hill assist control, dual-zone automatic temperature control, power windows and locks, an Infinity AM/FM/CD/mp3/SiriusXM audio system, Bluetooth, leather (those comfy seats are also, in front, heated and cooled), keyless entry, HID headlamps with a levlizer, a panoramic sunroof, power folding mirrors and of course Kia's legendary 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty.   All for a bottom line of $32,725.  Which would be an acceptable price for a fully loaded gasoline-powered sedan of this size...but the hybrid's mileage puts the icing on the cake, with an EPA-estimated fuel cost savings of $4,350 over five years, compared to the average new vehicle.

We've been saying for years that the real payoff for hybrids is in larger vehicles where truly dramatic differences can be made in fuel economy.  The Kia Optima Hybrid is an excellent example of that and should be on your shopping list.