For the last several months, I have been reviewing all types of vehicles, including hybrids. At first, I just knew I was not a fan and couldn’t justify spending an average of $10,000 more than the average gasoline only vehicle. You would think I would be just the opposite since I live in a huge city and hybrids are designed for maximizing mpg. After driving and reviewing several different hybrids, I have learned more about them and have found myself actual liking them.
I have had the opportunity to drive hybrids by various manufacturers including Toyota, Lexus, Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Honda and Nissan. When you think of a hybrid car, of course the first vehicle that comes to mind is the Toyota Prius. This vehicle has been the flagship of today’s hybrid vehicles, but is it really? Personally, I was never a fan in its appearance. Yes, it is functional, but I wasn’t going to sacrifice looks to get one. It’s apparent that other manufacturers have taken note, and you can see that other hybrids have come a long way in both looking stylish, efficient & performance.
In the last couple of months, my wife and I began discussing the purchase of a new vehicle. We slowly realized we needed to focus on maximizing our mpg being that we lived in the lovely city of Chicago. We currently have a 2 year old son and have another boy due at the end of the year. Space was a concern for us since we would soon be traveling with a larger family. Getting an SUV was the direction we were heading, but wasn’t ideal for everyday driving in the city. In my experience, you really don’t save much gas, if any from all, from the hybrid SUV’s I have driven. We liked the space offered, so we were considering some normal crossovers, such as the Kia Sorrento, Ford Edge and Hyundai Santa Fe. These certainly were our favorite to date, and thought they were a good value for the price considering the options that came with them.
We ultimately decided that we weren’t ready to take the leap to a SUV, so we decided to look into four door sedans that might fit our needs. At the time, we were driving a 2008 Honda Accord EX-L. We loved the car and found it to be very spacious, but the miles were getting up there and some major maintenance was due. I was at a Honda dealership getting normal maintenance done, and made the mistake of walking into the showroom. This is where I first laid eyes on the new Honda Accord Touring Hybrid. I was impressed at the big improvements Honda has made throughout the years, and upon seeing all of the gadgets and safety features, I automatically fell in love. Since we had an Accord already, we were familiar with the brand. The interior hadn’t changed much from what we were currently driving, so it was already comfortable to us. The main thing we knew was the reliability of the car, and felt that it was enough room to travel with two sons even with the loss of space in the trunk. We weren’t too crazy with the interior, but I really liked the safety features it had. Having cool features also came with a hefty price tag. Not crazy expensive, but enough to take step back and say am I really going to pay close to $40k (after all of the add-ons we wanted) on an Accord? It did give an approximate 50 mpg city driving which I liked. We decided to leave a deposit and order one in mid-June. If you know the history of the Accord Touring Hybrids, you’ll know that there was a long waiting period, especially for the color we wanted. So we got ready to wait.
As we waited, my wife and I talked about the Accord, but one particular car that kept jumping in the conversations was the Kia Optima Hybrid. We had had the chance to drive it, and both actually loved the car inside and out. She and our son especially loved the panoramic sunroof, not to mention all the features it came with including heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and heated steering wheel, to name a few that the Accord didn’t offer. We had opportunity to drive both the Hybrid and SX turbo model for some time so we knew the car. We knew it had lots of room inside, which was a plus since both of us are tall and we wouldn’t lose much leg room by having the Britax baby seats in the rear. I liked how it drove and how I felt driving it. Everything was easy to control and figure out. The Optima Hybrid didn’t get close the advertised mpg of the Accord, but it was still the second best from all that we have driven.
We were just playing the waiting game with Honda, and were happy to be told the car was going to go into production the week for July 6th. We were excited and were getting ready for our delivery in the first week of August. Well, the first week of August came, and when I called for an update I was given some bad news. We told it wasn’t coming and the actual production date was pushed back. I asked when and I even stopped by the dealership to get answers but was told I would get a call back later in the day. I then went home and called around several Honda dealerships in the Chicagoland area to see if anyone had a touring model with black interior. No luck. I called couple of times to ask for GM and said he would call me back. Here is when I made the decision while waiting for my wife to get home from work that I wanted to take a trip to the Kia dealership.
Long story short, Kia had the model I was interested in on the showroom floor with everything I wanted except mud flaps, which was not a deal breaker in the slightest. They gave me a price I couldn’t refuse, so I called the GM at Honda and asked status of my order immediately because I was at a Kia dealership about to purchase a vehicle. He told me hesitantly that it wouldn’t be built until late August and delivery would occur in September. I thanked him and told him that I would most likely be purchasing a different vehicle and would notify him in the AM to cancel my order. As it turns out, we drove off that very night with a brand new Kia Optima Hybrid with all the bells and whistles for about $10k less than the Honda Accord Touring Hybrid would have been with about the same features. Yes the Accord had a couple more features like the blind side camera and adaptive cruise control, but the Optima far outweighed those with the added features that it offered. We did lose mpg per stated rates, but for the price and not having to wait, it was a no brainer for us. We didn’t want to wait any longer since we were moving at the end of the month and my wife was getting further along in her pregnancy by the day. Ultimately, the Kia was our first choice; we just didn’t realize it until we got over the Accord euphoria and actually talked about another car. I am more than ok with saving $10k over having the additional 10 mpg.
Since we’ve had the car, we have driven approximately 1,000 miles, and we just love it. Everywhere we go we get complimented on the car, and get asked about the car from curious admirers. It has a very modern luxury style to it that you can’t stop looking at it. Yes it’s “just” a Kia but if you haven’t seen, driven or spent time with one you just don’t know. You get a lot for your buck plus a warranty that will put a smile on your face. We are really glad we stopped in at the Kia dealership and drove away in the new Optima Hybrid. We know we will enjoy this vehicle a lot more than we would have the Accord.
I am averaging 34 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway. I am very happy with my purchase, especially after having driven many different hybrids this year. I’m not left with the “what if” thoughts since I have a really good feel for what the other cars have to offer. I also noticed today that the price of the Accord Touring Hybrid has jumped up a few hundred bucks. We will probably add a SUV in a year or two, and after looking at the SUV line up, we are leaning towards the Kia Sorento AWD Limited. Purchasing the Optima has made it easy since we both loved the Sorrento and now know that we are truly getting a great product in Kia. The SUV write up will come at a later date once we purchase it. It will be interesting to see what we end up with!
Thank you all for reading. Both dealerships that helped me were very friendly, and are both located on the north side of Chicago. Grossinger Honda at 6600 N Western Ave is a new dealership formerly called Carrs Honda. We bought the Kia Optima from Grossinger Kia at 6750 N Lincoln Ave. They have a great staff and got me in and out in no time. I will be writing about our experience there soon. At Honda ask for Bill and at Kia, Jerry will take care of you. Both are very professional and will make sure your purchase experience goes smoothly and hassle free.
Jerry at Grossinger Kia - http://www.grossingerkia.com
Bill at Grossinger Honda - http://www.grossingerhonda.com
All photographs from Honda Accord Touring Hybrid are from the web.
Photographs of Kia Optima EX Hybrid provided by Chris Chavez Photography