When the Kia Optima Hybrid first arrived at my place, I immediately posted a photo on Instagram with the note, “When did the #Kia #Optima get so pretty?!” I was surprised at how sleek and modern the Optima looked, such a difference from the plain and boring models I remember from years past!
2013 Kia Optima Hybrid EX Review for Families
The 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid EX was the perfect companion on our trip to Carmel, CA. The three-hour ride went by so quickly while my sister and I filled each other in on the latest happenings of our lives. My sister did most of the driving and loved every minute of it. Her normal car is actually a sports car so this sporty hybrid was right up her alley. I found the windows to be a bit small in comparison to the crossover SUV I drive but, for my sister, she was used to it. The ride was extremely smooth, something I’ve come to expect from Kia.
My sister is a bit smaller than I am, at only five feet tall. So, she generally brings along a small pillow on long trips just in case. In case of what? Well, in most cars she needs the extra lift to sit high enough to drive comfortably. In adjusting the driver seat in the Optima, she found that the pillow was completely unneeded. On the other side of the height spectrum, my husband is 5 ft. 11 in. and was able to get the seat far enough back so that his legs weren’t bent much. Big brownie points go to this sedan for being able to accommodate those both short and tall. With the two programmed seat settings, couples of different heights can quickly get their seat preferences set and head out onto the road.
What made this vehicle different from than others I’ve driven was its hybrid make. Starting the car was sometimes tricky as the engine was so silent that we could barely tell if it was on or not. After a while, I did start to recognize its status by the number of lighted indicators on the dashboard. This also meant that we had to be extra careful when driving as other drivers or pedestrians couldn’t hear us coming, especially on driveways and in parking lots. The car would made a deep rumble when it switched from gas to electricity and back. The first few times we’d say, “What was that?!” We quickly figured it out and then our comments changed to, “Oh, it’s just changing modes”.
I don’t know if it’s just me but, when I hear ‘hybrid’ or ‘electric’, I automatically assume that the car lacks ‘oomph’. Such was not true with the Kia Optima Hybrid. It accelerated quickly and easily even with the Eco, the gas-saving mode, activated. For lane changes, traffic maneuvering, and inclines, I’d switch Eco off to get a power boost. Either way, the gas mileage was great. Going to and from Carmel (about 240 miles round-trip) we only used about 1/4 of a tank. One fourth! I can only imagine how much would be saved in fuel costs over any length of time!
Buttons, buttons, buttons inside buttons. These, however, actually made sense. Near the gear shift are two, count them ‘two’, climate controls for the front seats. Now both the driver and front passenger have the luxury of heating up their buns and back or cooling them down. The heater is very useful in the cold months but the air-conditioned seats feel kind of weird. I’d rather sweat like crazy than put that thing on. Speaking of which, the front section seemed to retain a lot of heat. I had my dual climate control blasting for most of our trip – maybe I’m getting early hot-flashes . . .
I really like the fact that Kia broke the design tradition by putting the buttons for opening the gas cover and trunk on the driver’s door. No more bending over and fiddling around the floor just to pop the trunk! The hood button is still under the dash but that one belongs there. As for the heated steering wheel? I didn’t try that as I tend to have warm hands. Seems like it’d be nice but I can’t see it as being more than a novelty.
There’s a good amount of leg room in the back. The finish and detail is lovely, as it is on most Kia cars these days. The trunk? The trunk is a bit of an anomaly to me.
It seems big but not that much so. While it can fit a couple of big suitcases or your weekly groceries, the trunk won’t be able to contain a full trip to the warehouse store while stocking up on 60 rolls of toilet paper, 20 mega-boxes of cereal, etc. There’s also this odd cut-out area between the trunk and the seats. It may something to do with the electric bit of the car but it’s kind of awkward and renders that space useless. At least you can still fit skis through the seat opening on your next trip to the snow.
One issue that made driving the Kia Optima Hybrid a little less enjoyable had to do with the driver’s side mirror. For some reason, the mirror would not tilt all the way to the right. I always like to see a bit of the car body in the mirror to better estimate where other objects are. The limited range of motion made that impossible for me and I couldn’t get the mirror to a position I felt comfortable with.
With shorter legs (I’m only 5’3″) I obviously need to scoot my chair up a bit, not all the way up with my nose over the wheel, but close enough to reach the pedals 😛 The mirror was just not going to adjust to my liking. When my sister drove (who’s even shorter than me) it was the same but she said she got used to it after driving the next six hours. Perhaps the mechanism just needed some adjustments but this was definitely something that made me feel a bit unsafe.
You’ve probably heard of the panoramic sunroof. Here’s a little video to show how nice it is. Imagine you’ve just dropped the kids off at practice and are using that time to get a few winks. After they’re back, you can just press your pre-programmed seat position and get on your way.
The 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid EX is a fantastic car that drives smoothly, has good power, and saves you a TON on gas. A small family would fit just right in this and it could double as a fantastic commuter car. Definitely get the spoiler on the back as it really adds style to the already slick-looking hybrid.
For more reviews & car-related tips, visit my automotive site for women & families, DrivingMamas.com.