2014 Kia Optima Hybrid


2014 Kia Optima Hybrid
$25,995 base MRSP
36/40 MPG (advertised)
TBD MPG (real-world, over a week of driving)

Overall Impressions:

Not even close. Just don’t get this car–it’s a hybrid, but has no better highway mileage than the Mazda sedans. And the hybrid experience itself is flawed (more on that later). All told, it felt like a compromise.

TMS (Tall Man’s Score): C-

Headroom: B+

A bit of a false reading, as the seatback had to be reclined to an extreme angle so that the headrest didn’t come into play.

Mirror Location: B+

Again a bit of a false reading due to the amount you have to recline the front seat.

Headrest: F

Big fail here. One of the worst active headrests out there, with no way to get comfortable (other than recline the seat).

This alone would prevent me from buying this car–it was that bad.

Legroom: A

Nice legroom. Lots of space.

Seat Comfort: B+

Cheap material, and that taints the overall impression of the seats (and the cabin as a whole).

Seats comfort was acceptable, but again you have to recline them quite a bit to avoid the headrest.

 Vehicle Review

Engine: B-

Poorly executed. The electric mode has very little power, and when accelerating there is a noticeable “lag” before the gas engine kicks in.

Once up, the gas engine moves the car fairly briskly. But that lag–it’s almost as if the car has to downshift into first gear–is not only annoying, it’s borderline unsafe.

Push button (keyless) start also was strange, as it would bring up the electric mode, but you could not be sure the car was truly ready to drive. Strange.

Transmission: C

Poor execution of the transition from hybrid mode to gas mode. Shifts were slow, and less than smooth. Manual mode was poor, with the upshifts/downshifts in the “wrong” position (pull back to downshift).

In addition there was too much computer control over manual shifts, not letting you downshift into second for example unless you were well below redline. May as well forget any “spirited” driving in this car.

Bottom line is the designers want you to stay in “D” with this one.

Interior: B-

Interior was average–but the material on the seats is so cheap feeling it detracts from the rest of the interior.

Visibility: B

Decent visibility, with windows all around.

Yet once again as with so many cars the hood slopes so much you have no idea where the front of the car is (and if you look closely at the photo you’ll see one of the previous renters scuffed up the front bumper).

May as well put up a video screen instead of a windshield.

Electronics: B+

Average electronics, although there is a backup camera (which is a plus).

Also had dual-zone climate control.

Nothing special, nothing really bad.

Utility: B

Just another sedan.

Appearance: B

See above–just another sedan.

 Miscellaneous Musings:

Kia I know everyone is trying to get into the hybrid market, but this car just feels “incomplete”. Maybe as a “first effort” it can help refine your methods and one day you’ll end up with a decent hybrid for the market.

But unfortunately that’s not this car. Not by a long shot.

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