I’m doing a week-long test drive of a 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid.  I chose a hybrid because I’m very interested in the technology and the fuel savings and I hope to purchase a hybrid as my next car.  Kia Motors America graciously had one dropped off at my home this morning and I have to tell you, my first impressions are that it’s a pretty amazing vehicle.  Yes, it’s really good looking, but beyond that it has some amazing comfort and safety features.  I’ll be sharing more in-depth information with you as I have time to test out all the features, but I did take the car for for an initial outing to my sister’s house and here are my first thoughts.

Power

It has plenty of power.  My sister lives across the valley from me and up a steep grade – that’s one of the reasons I chose her home to visit.  The Optima switched to gas and powered up the hill with no hesitation at all.  It seamlessly switches from electric to gas without any noticeable change in performance or drivability.  The car is silent in electric mode and a bit quieter than our cars in gas mode.

Technology

This is the top-of-the-line in the 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid line with the $5k Hybrid Premium Technology Package upgrade so it has everything you can think of.  The car has several great safety features like voice-activated navigation system with back-up camera.  I had a little bit of trouble getting the street I needed to be recognized so I resorted to typing in the address.  The navigation works great, but I still have some settings to figure out.  I did LOVE the back-up camera and wish every car had one!  I’m retrofitting my 1995 AeroStar van with one this week.

The radio/CD player can also be controlled by voice, from the steering column, or the dash and it’s pretty spectacular sounding.  You can connect your iPod or other portable music device as well or use the Sirius radio. Your bluetooth enabled phone can be synched to make/take calls or play your playlist from your smartphone.    I haven’t attached mine yet but the fellow who showed me the bells/whistles attached his and it was simple.  You can add your garage door opening key to the system and it’ll open the door for you, too.

It has a key less entry key fob and auto locks. I know, a lot of you probably already have these but our newest key has autolocks and I thought that was cool!

 Mileage/Gas Usage

I was surprised to see how far a tank of gas will take you (specifics in a later post) and I loved being able to see what fuel I was using with an animated, real-time graphic on the dashboard.

Comfort

Although this car has leather leather and as a vegetarian it’s not my first choice, I will say the seats are phenomenally comfortable.  They’re also heated (front and back seats) and the front seats are cooled!  The steering wheel is heated, which I hear comes in handy on cold mornings, and the heat is temperature controlled with separate driver and passenger comfort zones.  I did find the heat was a bit spotty in the driver’s seat with cold spots near the window, but I’m sure I just need to do some adjustments to where the vents are pointed to correct this.  The driver’s  seat is a 4-way powered seat so adjusting it is super simple and it will remember two saved settings so when you get in the car it moves the seat automatically to your settings (most of the features noted here are not in the base model).

I’m amazed and how much I love this car. The fuel economy is tops on my list but I admit to loving the moon roof much more than I ever thought possible. It’s truly my dream car.


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