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2012 Kia Optima Hybrid Review: Luxury, Comfort, Family & Eco-Friendly!

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Kia 2012 Optima Side view

2012 Kia Optima Hybrid Review:

Luxury, Comfort, Family & Eco-Friendly!

Our family has been car shopping for a few months now since we are expecting our second child in January 2013. It’s a sad day when mom and dad have to give in and accept the fact that their sports car is no longer going to be an adequate mode of transportation for food shopping, schlepping the kids, and road trips with the family. Luckily, I have discovered that we can have the best of both worlds thanks to Kia. This is my second Optima review, but the first time I have experienced a Hybrid vehicle (ever). We also had a great experience last month with the brand new 2013 Kia Rio! I fell in love with the 2012 Kia Optima earlier this year, but now I am back with a 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid review!

 2012 Kia Hybrid Optima Leather

Kia 2012 Hybrid Optima Steering

I have always been curious about the efficiency and ease of owning a hybrid vehicle, so I had to see it to believe it and wanted to grasp a better understanding of exactly how it compares.

The Optima Hybrid is the only hybrid model currently available from Kia, but I can’t wait to see what they come out with next! This midsize car has everything and more, including satellite radio, Bluetooth, push-button start, rearview camera, and a USB jack to utilize with your devices.

2012 Kia Hybrid Optima GPS Radio 2012 Kia Hybrid Sirius Bluetooth

The interior is spacious, comfortable, and luxurious. The leather seating makes for a superior experience as you enjoy a [very] quiet ride on the roads – no matter how many bumps there are in the road! The inside appears essentially the same as other Optima trims with the only exceptions featured on the steering wheel("ECO" button) and dash panel, which includes all of your Eco Levels

2012 Kia Hybrid Optima Eco   2012 Kia Hybrid Optima Dash

The drivers side is a dream and the center console makes for a very comfortable ride as it is focused on the driver. One of the interior features that I have noticed and enjoyed while reviewing the Kia Optima and Rio is how the center console is designed with the driver in mind. Other vehicles might include a center console which is generally positioned as a centerpiece for all passengers to enjoy, but Kia has considered the feelings (and arms reach!) for their drivers, which is a huge plus! Considering who is in control of the vehicle and the fact that we are generally driving our vehicles alone (or with our kids only!), I love the idea of having a console that is focused on the driver. 

Kia 2012 Optima Front  Kia 2012 Optima Hybrid Steering

Don’t worry! Your passenger will still feel all of the comforts of the Optima Hybrid even though the console is geared and positioned with the driver in mind. 

 Kia 2012 Hybrid Optima Front

As is the non-hybrid model, Kia’s 2012 Optima Hybrid features plenty of legroom to provide comfort for your family. Our sports car has a very small rear row that is cramped and tight, so my son is constantly complaining (not to mention how difficult it is for us to get him into his carseat!). I had NO problem getting my son into the backseat and it was also a nice change of pace to have enough room to seat two adults WITH our carseat, which is normally next to impossible ).

2012 Kia Hybrid Optima Leg room  Kia 2012 Hybrid Optima Rear

…and of course Kia goes above and beyond with its soft, luxurious, and stylish leather interior!

 Kia Optima Hybrid SRS Airbag Kia Hybrid Optima Seats 

The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid provides plenty of aerodynamic, sporty, and sleek exterior features that puts this mid-sized sedan into a sporty, stylish, and appealing vehicle for families. The ride is quiet and comfortable, which is a must in most situations, but a major perk for families. Delivering excellent fuel mileage means that you are going to save where it matters since you’ll be spending a lot less time at the gas station. The suspension is very soft and fine tuned to ensure a quiet and less bumpy ride when hitting potholes and bumps. 

Kia 2012 Optima Trunk   Kia Optima 2012 Sideview

Choose between 16" or 17" tires with alloy wheels. Both options provide a sporty appeal and stylish look for the Optima Hybrid. I couldn’t believe these were the stock rims for the 2012 Optima Hybrid!

2012 Kia Hybrid Optima Rims

2012 Kia Optima Glovebox

There is plenty of room in the spacious glovebox and trunk, which is a huge plus for our family! Food shopping trips will no longer leave you wondering if you should put back that case of juice or extra large box of cereal.

We were able to fit all of our purchased in the Kia Optima Hybrid trunk without using the rear backseat for the overflow. I can’t remember the last time I pulled out of a parking lot with all of our groceries in the truck – and only the trunk!

 2012 Kia Hybrid Optima Trunk   2012 Kia Hybrid Trunk Optima

The battery is nestled into the side of the Optima Hybrid trunk, so you are going to find that there is still more than enough room for groceries, strollers, etc.!

2012 Kia Hybrid Optima Trunk Battery

Understanding Hybrid

Since this is my very first hybrid experience and review, I had to do some research so that I could understand exactly what I was looking at and how to better economize our fuel levels. The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid features a 2.4-liter engine packed with a 30-kw electric motor and lightweight lithium polymer batteries. The Optima Hybrid is capable of running on either the gas engine, electric motor, or both! The power behind the engine was definitely there and the hybrid model definitely brings the same performance as Kia’s other non-hybrid Optima trims. 

There is NO plug-in charging requirement, which has always been my main concern when considering a hybrid vehicle. We don’t exactly have the capabilities of charging a vehicle at our home, so I am relieved to find out that manufacturers are avoiding the old school hybrid charging requirement! Instead of plugging your car in to be charged overnight, Kia’s Optima Hybrid battery pack will replenish the energy generated from the gas engine and captured during regenerative braking in order to store and replenish your energy levels. 

2012 Kia Hybrid Eco Level Optima

Gas is also saved when the Optima Hybrid engine turns off automatically when the car is stopped, which I loved! Think about how many times we sit and let the car idle as we unpack groceries, wait for someone to come outside to the car, and basically leave the car in park doing who-knows-what. The Optima Hybrid allowed us to save a ton of gas throughout the week since it would turn the engine off when we didn’t realize it didn’t need to be ON. The Optima Hybrid is already a very quiet car, but my husband was very surprised when I told him the car was ON, but actually OFF at the same time.

Kia Hybrid 2012 Optima

The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid delivers great fuel economy estimates at 34 mpg (city)/40 mpg (highway). The estimated annual fuel costs based on 15,000 miles at $3.70/gallon come to $1,550.00, which is a great difference in comparison to our current gas guzzling sports car. Although your actual mileage and consumption will vary, I can attest to an excellent experience with the Optima Hybrid when it came to refilling the tank.

Our Optima Hybrid was delivered with a full tank and only required a refill after day #5. We did a LOT of driving around our neighborhood and highways during our review week. Our car would have required gas after 3 (or less) days considering how many miles we accumulated, so there is definite and obvious proof that the hybrid does work and will cut your gas expenses tremendously!

The exterior of the Optima hybrid version features a unique headlight design, active air flap system, underbody aero tuning to reduce drag, low rolling resistance tires, and the rear fascia exhaust is actually hidden! Another cool feature is the Kia Optima "Virtual Engine Sound System", which is a pre-recorded engine sound that is played during electric-only operation to notify people outside that a vehicle is approaching. This is a great safety feature for pedestrians and definitely necessary since the Optima is such a quiet ride. There were many times where I didn’t think the car was still running, but it was! Since we are programmed to expect vehicles in motion to make a revving engine noise or other sounds, I was happy to learn that the super quiet Kia Optima Hybrid included a pedestrian safety system to warn those around the vehicle. 

2012 Kia Hybrid Optima Eco Level   Kia Optima Hybrid Eco Level

2012 Kia Hybrid Optima Economy   2012 Kia Hybrid Fuel Eco

Mama Says...

Learn More!

Head on over to the official Kia website to learn more about the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid, which starts at $25,700! You’ll find everything you need to know from safety features, performance, interior and exterior upgrade options, and more. Learn about the great leasing options with Kia Motors Finance and calculate your old vehicles trade-in value. Discover all about the buzz and recognition that Kia is receiving for their 2012 Optima Hybrid, too!

There are currently eleven different models in the Kia fleet, which presents a wide variety of options no matter what your family size or budget might be. Kia has everything from the crossover/minivan for growing families, but also features a wide variety of car sizes to accomodate all needs and preferences. Learn more about all Kia models and figure out which one is your favorite from Kia Motors

Don’t forget to "Like" Kia Motors on Facebook, "Follow" @Kia on Twitter (Kia America) and @Kia_Motors on Twitter (Kia – global*) in order to keep updated on Kia models, news, promotions, and offers! Also subscribe to the Kia YouTube Channel, which features a wide variety of videos for all of their models! 

Disclosure: I received a 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid for 7 days in order to compose an honest, accurate, and descriptive review based on the experiences our family had with the car. No monetary compensation has been exchanged. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements & Testimonials in Advertising. 


My name is Nicole Napolitano and I am a full-time professional parenting blogger and work-at-home mom of two adorable and vivacious children (boy - 6 & girl - 2.5). I decided to develop MamaNYC in 2010 shortly (1-month) after transitioning from work-a-holic Internet marketing pro to the shoes of a stay-at-home mom (bored!). As a dedicated business manager for over 9-years, I was determined and positive that I would once again be a successful business woman -- whether or not I had a diaper bag tagging along! I am a New York City native, but relocated with my husband and our two kids to sunny Los Angeles in the summer of 2014. Leaving everything behind was scary, but it's time to make new memories. My interests include web design, Internet marketing, product development and research, SEO, movies, friends, and spending time with my family.

16 thoughts on “2012 Kia Optima Hybrid Review: Luxury, Comfort, Family & Eco-Friendly!

  1. Best wishes with your second baby!
    I am very happy to see the hybrid Optima finally in the US: have been eyeing it across the Pacific last year when it was available only in the home market. Kia’s Korean website had the fuel efficiency quoted at 49mpg – count on the EPA to give you the facts straight! Check out the very cool Korean TV ad in my post, where I have added a link to your review.

  2. I am so super-impressed with the beautiful interior! The trunk space is amazing too!

    It totally cracks me up that these are the things I look for in a car now that I’m older- but hey, it’s a good looking car, too! 🙂

  3. I love Kia! We have a Sorento and am looking to upgrade to a newer Sorento. My husband drives a car and has long looked at this car. I will have to let him read your review. It is a fine looking car. Thanks for the information!

  4. I love hybrids and I love cars with leather seats! Sirius radio is a must too. This car is very tempting, and I’ll have to keep it in mind in the future. I wish my parents had bought this a few months ago!

  5. What a thorough review. I had no idea that it basically ‘self-charges’ and that you did not have to plug it in. That is a bonus. Good luck finding your dream family car. We have three kids so we could not do without our van. I have now accepted that I am a ‘soccer mom’. Oh well, it only a phase the sports sedan can come back later…

  6. Thank you for sharing. We will be car shopping at the beginning of the upcoming year and will defiantly be test driving one of these new Kia’s.

  7. Wow, loving the trunk space. We have a van and love it but can see that if you needed something smaller this would be a good bet while still having adequate cargo space!

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