The Kia Optima Hybrid is a styling standout in an otherwise bland lineup of midsize hybrid sedans. The 2012 model is a carryover from last year’s do-over and looks a lot sportier than it really is.

The Optima’s interior relies on user-friendly design elements with plenty of soft touch surfaces where the hard plastic used to be. The Optima Hybrid was the first Kia vehicle to offer the company’s proprietary UVO powered by Microsoft® voice-activated infotainment system, which is paired with the AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system with SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio capabilities, back-up camera, auxiliary and USB audio input and Bluetooth®5 wireless connectivity with steering wheel-mounted controls. It’s a $5,000 add-on that is part of the Technology Package and is money well spent.

Powered by a 166 horsepower 2.4-liter four cylinder gasoline engine mated to a 40-horse electric motor, the mileage figures are impressive for this size car, 35-MPG city and 40-highway.The full parallel hybrid system can be driven in zero emission, full-electric drive mode at speeds up to 62 MPH.

 

Engine: 2.4-liter

Horsepower: 166

Highest MPG City: 35

Highest MPG Highway: 40

Base Price: $26,500

What I Liked: Can be driven short distances in full electric mode up to 62 MPH. Great for a quick squirt up the freeway for lunch without using any go-juice.

What Needs Improvement: Back to the drawing board on the wheels

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5