2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

I'd be remiss if I didn't write about the car I had for a week, for Monterey Car Week - a Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid.

The Optima all by itself is a nice car; fairly large, comfortable, and economical. I'm still on the fence about hybrid cars. I'm not sure if they are worth the extra price. There are two Optima hybrids; a straight hybrid and the plug-in. This isn't a direct comparison because equipment varies but a gas engine Optima starts at $22,500, the hybrid at $25,995, and the plug-in hybrid at $35,210. Now that I'm retired it would take me a long time to make up the difference even though the fuel economy is drastically better.

I was pretty satisfied with the Optima. I never plugged it in because I didn't have anywhere to do so. But it wasn't a problem. If I drove on the battery only I drove until it was almost out of juice (there was a warning) and switched to a hybrid/regeneration mode. It was simple.

Yes it was full of all the tech gadgets. I did like the Apple CarPlay that recognized my phone and played my music. It took me a little time to figure everything out - one of the problems of tech stuff. Someone had set the information screen so that it defaulted to the map. Drove me nuts until I opened up the manual and figured out how to make the sound system the default.

There was plenty of power when you got into the throttle and the electric motors kicked in; more than enough.

I used the Advanced Smart Cruise Control and Autonomous Emergency Braking a whole lot in and around Monterey. It was nice not to have to modulate the gas and brake in stop and go traffic. The Optima crawled along and came to a complete stop when traffic did. Then a slight nudge on the gas pedal got it moving again. But I got lolled into a false sense of security on the highway. I'd set the distance between the Optima and the vehicle in front to the minimum, which was perfect for Car Week stop and go. Out on the highway it was too close and the Optima almost rear-ended a car. Thankfully I realized that the emergency braking wasn't going to cut it and I slammed on the brakes. It was entirely my fault and a warning that no matter what stay aware.

A big thank you to Kia. The Optima was a whole lot nicer than my old Lumina.


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