2011 Kia Optima EX (880)


This week we’re looking at the 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid. The reason I’m so hyped on this car is that I compared it with the new Chevrolet Volt a colleague was testing at the same time.

Take a look at the pictures and consider the visual and other differences.

Volt: $40,000; All Electric with 1.4 liter 149 hp gas engine as a generator, 95 City & 90 Highway MPG.

Kia Hybrid:

$26,500; Hybrid with Electric motor and 166 hp gas engine drive system, 35 City & 40 Highway MPG.

The real difference in price is about $10,000 for the all electric, car of the future, in the opinion of many. That is true based on all of the manufacturers are keeping their options open and although Hybrids are still on the production line the jury is still out on the ‘All Electric’ cars. The gas engine is necessary at this time because generation stations are rare. The Volt does come with a recharge “Kit” to install at home to convert house power to accommodate the 240 volts needed to charge it back up. There is, of course, the cost of an electrician to hook it up. You get about 40 miles out of the batteries and then the engine takes over to recharge the batteries while it is providing the power to the wheels.

Kia Hybrid uses both motor and gas engine for power most of the time. When the battery is fully charged and  / or when the need for power is greater than available from only one of the sources available both are active. The transition is super smooth and almost completely transparent to the drivers senses.

Based on cost difference alone the Kia is the better option at this time. And you gotta believe the GM Volt (GM for Government Motors) is subsidized so us tax payers are getting screwed again. Ask any previous stockholder of GM that lost their shirts with the bailout interference of our illustrious leaders in Washington. Where’s Ronald Reagan politics when he’s needed? God I miss real people.

Bottom line – Kia wins this round. And sagging sales of the Volt is testimony to that fact.


Theyyyy’rrre baaaaaack – Be aware and keep your speed down as close to the posted limit as you can or you will be paying huge fines so “pubic servants” can keep their jobs and wasteful California politicians can blow your hard earned money. You are prey and they are the predator. Don’t forget that. You are their next meal and although I believe they have been laying low for a while, hiding in the tall grass until vocal critics, like me, stopped beating up on them. In these tough times a distracted driver needs a $500 ticket like a hole in the head. And that’s the reality of fines today when those thugs pounce on you. But like the thieves they are, they take more than your wallet and watch. They ruin lives.

Yes, the CHP is back on the prowl, hunt or whatever you care to call their predatory presence on the freeways. A big loud BOOOO to them who stink like other tax collectors. CHP, IRS are now doing the same jobs. The IRS has never been loved and visions of “Revenuers” in the south come to mind. You can picture in your mind Kentucky boot legger’s who made whiskey in the depression years. They were doing most anything to feed their families. Today the CHP are the modern day revenuers seeking to devour who they can. Don’t drop your guard.

Handling & Performance:

Exceptional power for a Hybrid and there is no straining because, although the engine is not large, electric motors have 100% torque from a dead stop.


Thumbs up from the lookers and that reinforces my opinion that the design of this car is appealing to more than just me. The hybrid has a slightly smaller trunk than the conventional car because of battery, but not so you’d notice it all that much. I really like the look of this car.

Fit and Finish:

Quite good.


Very competitive as green cars go. In fact the Chevrolet Volt prices out at about $36-40,000

Conveniences and comfort:

Very comfortable. I like all it has to offer. I easily paired the cell phone and the information system was helpful in understanding how the system provided power to the front drive wheels.

Consumer Recommendation:

Korean cars have earned favor in today’s American market and it warrants you including it in your search. You won’t be sorry you did. Chevy Volt is selling poorly and we believe it has more to do with purchase price but convenience of recharging away from home has to turn heads and wallets away as well. No one wants to look the fool and anything new is only for those who like to take risks.

Recognized Competition:

Kia Optima Hybrid $27,000, Ford Escape Hybrid $31,000,  Ford Fusion Hybrid $29,000, Honda Civic Hybrid $24,000, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid $26,000, Lexus HS 250h $36,000, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid $35,000, Nissan Altima Hybrid $27,000, Toyota Camry Hybrid $27,000.

Good News:

Hybrid gets great fuel economy, but compared to the all electric Volt that gets 95 mpg, it is not very good at first blush. However the difference in cost of the Volt will require over 10 years to break even with the Kia’s lower price.

Bad News:

I only experienced one event that was unsettling. I pulled out of lane to pass and pressed the gas peddle all the way to the floor and it nearly stalled. Speed was flat and approaching traffic had to slow. I have yet to experience that again but it was unsettling. I felt I had done something wrong, but if I did, others will as well.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 4-cylinder 166 horsepower engine, permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, 270 Volt Lithium Polymer Battery, 6-speed sportmatic transmission front wheel drive, electric power steering, 16” alloy wheels, front, side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child seat system, anti lock brake system, traction and stability controls, hill start and down hill brake assist control, tire pressure monitor, climate control, UVO infotainment system, audio with SIRIUS satellite radio, USB & Auxiliary input jacks, Bluetooth wireless, leather steering wheel & shift knob, power driver seat, power windows & locks & mirrors, fog lights, push button start with smart key, cruise control, rear camera display.

Gas Stats:

$3.63/ Gal avg. August 12, 2011


for more information.

35 City and 40 Highway MPG


MSRP $26,500.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
Copyright © 2014 – An Automotive Love Affair.

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