The Kia Optima: Will It Save My Road Trip from Hell?


Picture this:  I have a grueling 10-12 hour car ride ahead of me with my sister and her 4-year old son. And of course, right before we are to leave, my car craps out. I manage to borrow a 2012 Kia Optima. It’s my only option at this 11th hour, so I am at this car’s mercy. Driving over the mountain pass with a preschooler and my hyper sister was going to be an adventure, and like it or not, I was going to have to make it in an unfamiliar car.

Initially, I was a bit nervous, because when the car was dropped off at my place, it seemed as if we were in the middle of a monsoon.  Buckets of rain had flooded the streets, and no one around here seems to know how to drive in the rain. Trepidatiously, we took off. The feel was sleek, safe and smooth to drive. So far, so good. My human cargo  quickly felt at ease with the car, as you can see…


Plenty of Room and Cozy Sleeping

There was plenty of room for the 3 of us, about 20 of our bags, and even a snowboard and matching gear that were acquired at our destination.  The double moon roofs helped to open the car up, providing a relaxing feeling while riding and driving the Optima.  They were also a big plus for the kiddo who spent the majority of his waking time staring up out of the moon roofs saying, “wow, I can see all the stars” and then drifted off to dreamland, with his blanket of constellations overhead.

Speaking of sleeping, some time around 5 am, I finally pulled over to catch some Zs. I’m sure the Optima wasn’t designed to become a popup hotel, but it turns out all three of us slept comfortably and easily in it.After having the seat heaters on max for the first part of the drive, I was surprised at how long the seats stayed heated after I turned the car off.   I maneuvered my seat all the way back, adjusted the headrest, stretched out my legs, and passed out. Made for some cozy sleeping.

This Machine Passed the Test

Drooling and snoring aside, the Hybrid Optima also proved to be quite the driving machine! It easily took the endless curves of the Siskiyou pass while buckets of rain poured down, and its effortless switch between the hybrid engine and regular engine allowed for both power and economy when needed, proving this car had passed our gas economy test. I made it from San Francisco, CA to Portland, OR on less than a tank and a half of gas. Amazing. My only complaint was the size of the rear window.  The window was, in my opinion, a bit small and I had an issue with blind spots at first. Though, once I became used to the car, I adjusted appropriately.

So whether you have a long road trip ahead of you or a quick ride through town, I am happy and relieved to report the Optima is a pretty sweet ride. And if you’re still not sold on a car that feels like a $60K luxury sedan but retails for less than half that, I have 3 words for you: heated steering wheel! You just don’t know what a nice little feature that is until you’ve experienced it 🙂

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