2013 Kia Optima Hybrid EX (2.4L 4-cyl. Hybrid 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 6/25/2013
Competition in the midsize hybrid class is growing rapidly with several excellent sedans available. The Kia Optima Hybrid, especially the EX with its lengthy list of standard features, shows good value but isn't as fuel efficient or as sophisticated as the benchmark hybrids.
PerformanceIn each performance category, the Optima Hybrid falls short of the competition. Some of these mediocre feats are due to a lack of cutting-edge engineering, while others are simply tuning choices.
At barely under 9 seconds to 60 mph, our Optima Hybrid EX is just off the pace of the quickest hybrid sedans. Unlike some others, battery charge affects acceleration greatly.
Due to electricity-generating braking systems, nearly all hybrids' brakes require some acclimation. But several competitors provide a more natural feel than this Optima.
Electric-assist steering is an unavoidable hybrid reality, and again, other carmakers have better, more realistic feedback. Precision and response, however, are quite good.
All-season low rolling-resistance tires aren't meant to provide thrilling handling, and they don't. A quick-reacting and effective stability control system quells any skidding.
Given this traditional 6-speed automatic with discreet gears, acceleration and passing feel normal. But steering and braking remain undesirably evident for their unorthodox feel.
ComfortWith its enviable list of standard comfort and convenience features, the Kia Optima Hybrid EX is better than average. Dynamically, it is competitive in terms of ride and quietness.
The EX trim has standard heated leather front and rear seats. Driver and front passenger enjoy ventilated seats, too. Decent legroom aids comfort on long trips.
We've grown accustomed to the brittle ride many hybrids exhibit. But that doesn't mean we like it. To that extent, the Optima Hybrid's ride is of average plushness for the class.
Many hybrids are loud and some sound plain awful under full acceleration. The Optima Hybrid is neither, and is reasonably hushed at freeway cruising speeds, too.
InteriorThe Optima Hybrid EX shines when it comes to its interior, where a modern yet user-friendly design combines with generous accommodations.
All the ergonomics one could ask for: keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone climate control, touchscreen/voice-controlled infotainment, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. User-friendly.
We found the Optima slightly easier to get in and out of than most hybrids in its class.
While not the largest in the segment, the Optima gives ample room and a reasonably airy cabin. The standard sunroof does cut headroom. Legroom is good front and rear.
We found no egregious blind spots. Plus, the top-tier EX comes with a standard reverse camera as well as rear parking sensors.
Since its trunk drops from the standard Optima's 15.4 cubic-feet to just 10.8, the EX Hybrid's cargo volume is more the size of a compact sedan than a midsize.
ValueValue was once Kia's trump card, but price increases have diminished a key selling point for this Korean manufacturer. Base models are still competitively priced, but models such as this upper trim level EX now face stiff competition.
Build Quality (vs. $)
The Kia Optima is a well-built machine that can go nearly head-to-head with any midsize hybrid or economy sedan in terms of quality.
There are virtually no options available because this EX trim effectively includes them all standard. It's highly competitive from a features-versus-base-price standpoint.
At about $33,000, the Optima Hybrid EX is reaonably priced for a midsize sedan, hybrid or otherwise.
Rated by the EPA at 35 city/39 highway/37 mpg combined, the Optima Hybrid falls short of the most frugal midsize hybrids by nearly 10 mpg across the board.
One of the industry's best warranties, period. Kia provides a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage, even on its hybrids.
We spent a trouble-free year with a Kia Optima (non-hybrid) here at Edmunds. It comes with roadside assistance for 5 years/60,000 miles, but no free maintenance.
Fun To DriveWith this conversion to hybrid duty, the Optima loses some of its dynamic appeal. But it makes up for it with sharp styling and feature-rich value. And it's more fun to drive than several key rivals.
The Kia Optima Hybrid EX is not a sport sedan, nor is it a completely lifeless economy pod. You could do worse in terms of driver involvement and it's a pleasant daily driver.
We appreciate the Optima's sporty exterior and well-equipped and tasteful interior. These traits give the car a bit more personality than others in the class.