Tag Archives: Prius

Fleet Update: 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid – 10 Months and Counting…..

Kia running Report - 1

So I have been driving a Kia Optima for approximately 10 months now, and despite my grumblings about it while extolling the virtues of AMG E55 ownership, it has been a remarkable companion, especially compared against my expectations. The Koreans are coming, and if you don’t believe it just try one for a while.

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On the Dealer’s Lot: 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid

I know what you’re thinking – or at least what I think you’re thinking, and what I am actually thinking myself – and that is that we are supposed to be Car Geeks, enthusiasts, motorheads, whatever, and we’re writing about a new Kia. Seriously? A FREAKING Kia? Isn’t “Kia” Korean for “the biggest turd on four wheels”? Honestly I used to think so. In fact, back in my carpooling days one of the drivers had a 2002 Kia that he bought new and we ridiculed him and the car mercilessly. It never left us stranded, however, and the 100K warranty was still working at last check. They even installed a new transmission in the thing gratis, but unfortunately gave him the same nondescript car back in the end.

Kia has entered a new space. In the last couple of years their reliability ratings have shot way up, customer satisfaction is at an all-time high for them, and they’re starting to make attractive cars that people actually want. A few weeks ago in a fit of “I’m bored with my car and I want something different” I went and test drove a Kia Hybrid, and was pleasantly surprised.

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The best Hybrid for a Car Geek….?

Unlike my poor friends in the L.A. basin, here in Northern Virginia we still have an HOV-lane exemption for Hybrid cars. Those who got in before 2006 can drive in all HOV lanes in the major arteries (I-95, I-66, Rt. 267), those who got in between 2006 and June 30, 2011 can get into the I-66 and Rt. 267 HOV lanes, and those who got in on July 1, 2011 or later can use the I-66 and Rt. 267 HOV lanes until July 1, 2012, then they are out. I originally got in early (December 2004) with a 5-speed manual Honda Civic Hybrid and had free reign of all the carpool lanes. Then I actually started carpooling and decided to drive interesting cars again. When the carpool went away in June of this year, I scrambled to get my Hybrid and corresponding plates before the June 30 cutoff, and made it by that much.

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