2012 Kia Optima Hybrid

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Reviews
Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    36 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    166-hp, 2.4-liter I-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    6-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Sharp styling
  • Richly appointed cabin
  • Roomy trunk
  • Standard USB/iPod integration
  • Gas mileage
  • Brake-pedal feel

The Bad

  • Backseat headroom
  • Front seats need more cushioning
  • Manual transmission not offered with turbo four-cylinder
  • Some options unavailable together
  • Folding backseat leaves small pass-through

Notable Features of the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid

  • More standard features for 2012
  • Choice of two four-cylinders, including a 274-hp turbo engine
  • Available hybrid version
  • Available heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel
  • Available voice-recognition audio system

2012 Kia Optima Hybrid Road Test

David Thomas

Kia's Optima sedan is such a perfect blend of styling, value and practicality that it won Cars.com's highest honor as our Best Car of 2011. The hybrid version attempts to take on the likes of Toyota's Camry Hybrid, Ford's Fusion Hybrid — a past winner of our award — and its Hyundai counterpart, the Sonata Hybrid. All while the Toyota Prius overshadows them all with a 50 mpg combined rating and comparable interior room.

What's a hybrid sedan to do?

The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid doesn't deliver top mileage, but if you're shopping for a hybrid sedan, it's as competent a player as you'll find on the market.

Full reviews of the gasoline only Optima and Optima Turbo can be found here.

Hybrid Powertrain
The Optima Hybrid uses both electric and gas power plants to propel the car, either in tandem or independently, while achieving an EPA-estimated 35/40 mpg city/highway, 37 mpg combined.

The electric motor can power the car on its own — even up to highway speeds when driving conditions and battery level allow. In short, when you hammer on the accelerator the two systems work together, but when cruising at higher speeds the electric (EV) mode kicks in for as long as the battery's charge allows.

All this interaction works seamlessly and almost imperceptibly, unless you're looking at one of the information screens that detail the process. A small color display between the gauges is standard, and the optional naviga...

Kia's Optima sedan is such a perfect blend of styling, value and practicality that it won Cars.com's highest honor as our Best Car of 2011. The hybrid version attempts to take on the likes of Toyota's Camry Hybrid, Ford's Fusion Hybrid — a past winner of our award — and its Hyundai counterpart, the Sonata Hybrid. All while the Toyota Prius overshadows them all with a 50 mpg combined rating and comparable interior room.

What's a hybrid sedan to do?

The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid doesn't deliver top mileage, but if you're shopping for a hybrid sedan, it's as competent a player as you'll find on the market.

Full reviews of the gasoline only Optima and Optima Turbo can be found here.

Hybrid Powertrain
The Optima Hybrid uses both electric and gas power plants to propel the car, either in tandem or independently, while achieving an EPA-estimated 35/40 mpg city/highway, 37 mpg combined.

The electric motor can power the car on its own — even up to highway speeds when driving conditions and battery level allow. In short, when you hammer on the accelerator the two systems work together, but when cruising at higher speeds the electric (EV) mode kicks in for as long as the battery's charge allows.

All this interaction works seamlessly and almost imperceptibly, unless you're looking at one of the information screens that detail the process. A small color display between the gauges is standard, and the optional navigation system provides more detailed information on a dashboard touch-screen.

Steering and ride comfort were similar to the standard Optima four-cylinder I tested previously, but I thought the hybrid's overall experience was quieter.

Braking was nice and linear, a trait new hybrids have developed despite using regenerative setups to recapture energy for the battery.

During my regular congested commute, I was seeing mileage in the high 30s, which is perfectly acceptable for what the car promises. Because of this system's design and its ability to cruise at high speeds in EV mode, drivers who spend more time on open roads at highway speeds will benefit most in terms of fuel economy. Hybrids from Ford and Toyota emphasize city efficiency.

We recently calculated that it would take six years for buyers to recoup their higher investment in the Optima Hybrid through lower fuel costs versus a similarly equipped four-cylinder Optima. While getting those terrific mileage figures will make you feel better on your commute, the higher payments at the end of each month might be a downer.

The hybrid battery cuts into trunk space, as it does in nearly every hybrid sedan. In the Optima, cargo space goes from 15.4 cubic feet in the regular version to a very small 9.9 cubic feet in the hybrid. The Toyota Camry goes from an identical 15.4 cubic feet in the gas-only model to a very respectable 13.1 cubic feet in the hybrid version. Plus, the Optima Hybrid's rear seats don't fold flat.

Equipment
My tester was a base model with cloth seats, no navigation and a sticker price of $27,500, which is considerably higher than the base gasoline car's $19,500. However, there are quite a few standard features in the hybrid that don't come standard in that model, including a power driver's seat, cruise control, dual climate control and push-button ignition.

Navigation, leather and other options can be had, but only as part of a single option package called the Hybrid Premium Technology Package. For $5,000, it adds a panoramic moonroof, a navigation system, an eight-speaker stereo, a power passenger seat, leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels and high-intensity-discharge headlights.

Safety
The Optima Hybrid earned a five-star overall crash test score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It also earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, that agency's highest honor. Very few cars on the market currently hold both designations.

The Optima Hybrid comes with a standard array of airbags, including side curtain airbags for the front and rear seats and seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants. You can read about more safety features here.

Optima Hybrid in the Market
The concept of a hybrid sedan still doesn't resonate with me because, with moderate gas prices, it takes a long time to recoup the added cost versus a non-hybrid sedan. However, the Optima Hybrid delivers everything it promises and still retains the handsome looks that won me over when I first saw the non-hybrid version.

Send David an email  



Latest 2012 Optima Hybrid Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(3.6)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(3.9)
Value For The Money
(3.9)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Great Car Fun, Frugal and Feisty

by SHERIFF from CHGO on August 27, 2018

Looking for stylish, loaded with options, reliable low cost transportation, the Kia Optima Hybrid scores high on all points. Great warranty and low maintenance costs. My car has more accessible ... Read full review

(4.0)

I like this car but

by Andrew S from Houston, TX on August 5, 2018

As said I like this car but the size of trunk is kind of small. However the size for back seat is pretty spacious and cozy. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid currently has 1 recall

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    120 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Kia

Program Benefits

164-point inspection, Carfax vehicle history report, 10-year/unlimited mileage 24-hour roadside assistance including trip-interruption services and lockout assistance

  • Limited Warranty

    10 years / 100,000 miles

    10-year/100,000 mile powertrain limited warranty; towing/rental/travel breakdown benefits; eligible for additional comprehensive mechanical failure. Comprehensive: 12 months/12,000 miles from date of purchase.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 164 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Optima Hybrid received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker