Once the 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid finally broke cover at the end of last month, it was only a matter of time before the 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid did the same, and that time is apparently now: The fuel-friendly Optima is on its way to dealerships with many of the same upgrades offered by its corporate cousin, as well as a more explicitly performance-oriented and premium positioning.
Now, some of that is just Kia making the best of a tough situation. Although the lithium-polymer battery technology in the 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid provides plenty of benefits as compared to the lithium-ion setups used by its rivals, the car nonetheless trails segment leaders like the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid and 2013 Toyota Camry in the EPA rankings. The Blue Oval product gets 47 mpg across the board, the Camry comes in at 43/39/41, and the Optima is projected to reach 36 mpg city/40 mpg highway/38 mpg combined.
That’s a pretty hefty advantage for the Fusion—although some issues over the car’s real-world performance have been noted—and a not-insignificant 8 percent advantage for the Toyota in combined travel. On the other hand, the 2012 Optima Hybrid is priced $1,500 below the starting point of its Fusion competitor and $340 under the MSRP of the Camry, and could be in line for a further cash benefit. Consider: The 2013 Sonata Hybrid enjoyed a $200 price cut from the previous model year, and what’s good for the goose, etc., etc.
Other improvements to the 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid include …