By on October 7, 2011

I’m a product of the 1970s, and as a result I was just the right age to remember when Kia came on the scene in 1992 (available for sale 2 years later), the first Kias were cheap to buy but fairly cheaply made as well prompting the running joke was that Kia meant: “Korean, Inexpensive, and Awful.” Fast forward to 2011; Kia/Hyundai products are on an impressive roll, sporting competitive looks and competitive features without the sting of a large price tag. Could the new Optima Hybrid be the frugal shopper’s green alternative to the mainstream Camry and Fusion or even the Lexus HS250h? Let’s find out.

From the outside, the new Optima is by far the looker of the mid-size hybrid segment. The Fusion hybrid is handsome but plain-Jane, the Camry has never stuck me as attractive with its oddly droopy beak and the new 2013 Camry’s exterior strikes me as “beige re-imagined”. Similarly, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid (the Optima’s close cousin) just doesn’t get my juices flowing, looking in my mind like it is trying to be too Japanese rather than something unique. Similarly the HS250h is dreadfully boring and feels more like a Corolla with leather than a “real” Lexus. The Optima on the other hand checks all the right boxes for me from the aggressive front grille and headlamps to the kinky C-pillar. Opinions varied wildly, but I have to say Kia’s hybrid alloy wheel option set an unexplainable fire in my loins.  Right about now is the point where you either agree with me or not as styling is a subjective business and indeed my better half despised the wheels as much as I loved them. Go figure. Unlike Michael who reviewed the Optima EX back in January, I don’t find the front overhang to be too much of a styling faux pax, but then again, I don’t mind the usual FWD proportions either. Like EPA numbers with hybrids, your styling mileage may vary.

On the inside, the Optima appears to be what a modern Saab might look like (if they hadn’t been bought by General Motors and lost their way). The hybrid’s cabin and option list is essentially the same as the Optima EX with the driver-focused center console, dual-zone climate control, large air vents and infotainment systems positioned high on the dash. While the major components are shared with the Hyundai Sonata, the overall look is fairly distinct. Our tester came with the optional “leatherette” stitched trim around the instrument panel, replacing the base model’s shiny plastic dash components with faux cow. The look makes the Optima’s dash fairly upscale in comparison with the Camry and Fusion competition.

While the button array on the dash was found to be distracting to some, I found this to be a relatively minor complaint and as I’m a gadget person at heart I acclimated fairly quickly. While the button layout is not as logical as I would like, by the end of the week I was successfully stabbing buttons in the dark without an issue. Standard equipment has lately been a Kia hallmark and the Optima Hybrid is no different; power mirrors, fog lamps, iPod/USB integration, touch screen radio, steering wheel audio and phone controls, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, one-touch power windows, air conditioned glove box, trip computer, auto-dimming rear view mirror and power driver’s seat are among the long list of standard features on the Optima Hybrid. To keep prices at that low Kia level the hybrid sports only one option: the $5,000 “premium package”. While sticker shock applies with any package this pricey, but the package contents are worth it in my book. Five-large gets you the panoramic sunroof, navigation system, backup camera, up-level Infinity sound system, HID headlamps, 17-inch wheels, power passenger seat, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, snazzier trim bits, auto dimming rear-view-mirror, and the holy grail: the heated steering wheel. Seriously, who at Kia comes up with these things? They need a raise. I have a special love for the heated wheel and you can take away all my squishy dash bits if you just give me auto climate control, cooled seats and a heated wheel I’m a happy man.

Standard tech has recently become a Kia hallmark and the Optima Hybrid is no different. USB and iPod integration is standard, as is Bluetooth connectivity. The Optima Hybrid is the first Kia to come with the new UVO infotainment system by Microsoft. Comparisons to Ford SYNC are inevitable and warranted. The UVO stacks up well overall but seems to lack the polish of SYNC. Still, if you want to voice command specific tracks from your iPod, SYNC and UVO are basically your only options. Stepping up to the premium package gets the shopper Kia’s large screen navigation system and eight speaker Infinity audio system. Unfortunately the up-level package does not come with UVO which means you need to control your Apple device via the on-screen menu rather than by voice. Bummer. The navigation software is quite responsive, fairly intuitive and thankfully allows a passenger to enter a destination while the car is in motion. The premium package integrates the climate control into the large display as well as the crisp hybrid status displays. Someone needs to explain the “earth” page to me however because it seems to indicate that the earth is resting on some large roller bearings with a hybrid drivetrain making the world-go-round. No I say, it’s the legion of tiny fairies that make my globe spin!

Under the hood the Optima Hybrid beats a 2.XL four-cylinder engine, essentially the same “Theta-II” engine in the majority of Hyundai/Kia models but retuned to run on a modified Atkinson cycle. In hybrid form the engine turns out 168HP at 6,600 RPM and 154 lb-ft at 4,250 RPM. Much like the Infiniti M35h we reviewed recently, Kia removed the torque converter replacing it with a pancake motor and a set of clutch packs. The electric motor adds 40HP from 1,400-6,000 RPM and 150 lb-ft of torque from 0 to 1,400 RPM, which, like the M35h, combines with the engine’s figure in a more linear fashion than do the Prius or Fusion’s CVT motor/generator setup with a combined power output of 206HP at 6,000 RPM and 195-lb-ft of torque at 4,250 RPM. The clutch packs enable the Optima to operate under electric-only, gasoline-only, or both. Starting the engine is handled by a new starter/generator that replaces both the alternator and starter on the regular Theta II engines. Once the engine has started and has rev matched the transmission’s input shaft, the clutch packs locks up and you’re off.

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Located behind the rear seats, the lithium-polymer battery pack is a technological step above the majority of hybrids including the Prius and Camry. The 1.4kWh, 270V pack’s high power density (compared to Ni-MH) is more of a necessity in the Optima however, as the platform is not a bespoke hybrid like the Prius. As a result, the trunk’s space is reduced from a middle-of-the-road 15.5 cu-ft to a smallish 9.9cu-ft. Kia was able to maintain the trunk pass-through for hauling longer items. Still, the 9.9 cu-ft is a step below the 11.8 provided in the Ford Fusion, 10.6 in the Camry Hybrid and 12.1 in the Lexus HS250. If a class trailing cargo capacity stings, the Optima makes up for it with 4-inches more front legroom than Camry, admittedly this comes at the expense of 4-inchec of legroom in the rear. Pick your poison.

Out on the road the Optima delivers a firm, quiet ride. Due to the lower cd of .25 vs the regular Optima’s .28 combined with the frequent all-electric locomotion, noise is particularly muted in the hybrid model. Speaking of all-electronic driving, rather unlike the Camry Hybrid, the Optima spends a considerable amount of time in electric-only mode, for better or worse. With the cruise control set to 65 MPH on a level highway, the Kia will run electric only until the battery is partially depleted, then start the engine and charge the battery while running on the engine, then once charged, it will shut down the engine and run on electric power again. This is decidedly different than the other mid-size hybrids on the market which run their gasoline engine constantly at highway speeds. The 6-speed automatic transmission is up-shift happy as are most sedans with a leaning towards frugality. If you prefer a smooth CVT experience the other hybrids will be your cup of tea, if shifts are more your thing, the Optima delivers in spades. When the road gets twisty the low-rolling resistance tires certainly tone down the excitement, but no more than they do in the Fusion which is probably still the “sportiest” mid-size hybrid on the market thanks no doubt to the wider 225-width rubber.

Of course Hybrids are all bout fuel economy and the Optima is no different delivering a respectable EPA score of 35/40/37 MPG (City/Highway/Combined) which places it behind the Fusion’s 41/36/39 MPG score and the (2012) Camry’s 43/39/41 but ahead of the HS250h’s 35/34/35. If highway cruising describes the majority of the miles on your future hybrid, the Optima is the natural choice as it delivers the highest highway numbers in the bunch, four MPGs more than Fusion. Of course, the glaring problem here is that a seeming bevy of new cars will match the Optima Hybrid’s 40MPG on the highway including the Cruze Eco, Fiesta, Focus and Elantra. You may have noticed I’m ignoring the Sonata Hybrid. That’s because in my mind choosing between the Optima and its kissing-cousin is more like deciding between the blue car and the red car as they differ mainly in style not substance. During our week with the Optima we easily averaged 40.4 MPG on the freeway and 32 MPG in heavy stop-and-go traffic, impressive numbers on the surface, but our week-long average fell to 35.5 MPG which is notably short of the EPA combined figure.

The Optima’s biggest feature, like most Kias, is its price tag. At $26,500 the Optima is significantly cheaper than the $28,600 Fusion or the $36,330 Lexus HS250h. Toyota has obviously decided the Optima is encroaching on their turf and the 2012 Camry Hybrid is now the cheapest in the bunch at $25,900.

So what should the greenie really buy? Is the new Camry Hybrid really the better car for the bargain hunter? No, the answer is: a turbo Optima of course. With EPA 22/34 MPG and 274HP/269lb-ft on tap for $29,600 it’s hard for the piston head to make the hybrid leap. Still, if a hybrid is in your future I would argue the Optima is the better value than the competition when you add in the $5,000 option pack. How is a $31,500 hybrid the better value? It still undercuts the loaded competition and delivers features like ventilated seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and panorama roof not available on the other hybrids. If you want a smooth driving hybrid sedan under 30K, buy the Ford. If you want a great car under $30K, skip the Hybrid and just buy a turbo Optima, if you are seeking a premium hybrid sedan, give the fully-loaded Optima Hybrid a long look before you swing by the Lincoln or Lexus dealer.

 

Kia provided the vehicle for our review, insurance and one tank of gas.

Statistics as tested

0-30: 2.96 Seconds

0-60: 8.31 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.27 Seconds @ 88.4 MPH

Fuel Economy: 35.6 MPG over 489 miles

 

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47 Comments on “Review: 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid...”


  • avatar
    drylbrg

    Infiniti makes cars, Infinity makes audio equipment. It’s funny that you defaulted to the one that’s misspelled.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      Its not a bad looking car, but like Hyundai, it is still overstyled.

      Seems there is a lot of design language from the Lexus IS that has been borrowed.

      The interior looks way too busy.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Unlike the Sonata, the Optima has clean lines – so “overstyled” would hardly be an accurate description (plus, the Optima has won just about all the major auto design awards).

        And praytell what from the IS has been “borrowed”?

    • 0 avatar
      OptimaBoy

      I purchased a 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid with the Premium Package ($32,000). In fact, I purchased TWO of these cars just TWO weeks apart. Beautiful car. Styling is great. One problem. BOTH (not one) cars are averaging just 28 to 29 miles per gallon. The hybrid screen shows 30 to 40MPG+++ at all times and the even the average mile per gallon indicator (where the odometer is located) will show 35+ MPG. Just one problem. Fill up at the gas station and the average MPG is a paltry 28 to 29 miles per gallon. I have 7K mkiles on one car and 1500 miles on the other and BOTH cars have this issue. Kia offers no answers and Brandon Kia of Tampa and Century Kia in Tampa (who sold us the cars) don’t care to KNOW what the problem is with their respective cars. In fact, the service manager (Fernando) at Century Kia stated “we have no experience with these cars and never see them so don’t know how to treat this issue”. It gets better. When Century Kia finally looked at the car, their answer to a fix was to disconnect the battery and let the computer power down for 1 minute:-) I guess they think a control+alt+delete is the answer to this $32,000 computer problem. Either these cars do NOT receive the EPA as set forth on the sticker or, consumers who have purchased them have NOT used a calculator to do the simple math to arrive at the correct MPG or, I have TWO Optima Kia Hybrids that are the ONLY two cars which have this issue. So we’re all on the same page, I drive with ECO on all the time and before purchasing these two cars, we were driving Prius’ that averaged 48 MPG and when you filled up the gas tank (on the Prius) and divided the miles on the trip meter by the number of gallons pumped into the car, the average was always 48 MPG. In all cases, the Prius always showed 48 MPG on all indicators and instant fuel consumption meters. The Kia Optima Hybrid does NOT get 35 MPG on the highway and NO where near 40 MPG in the city. So, let’s hear from other owners and let’s see if we ALL have this problem as this is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The running joke about Kias in my neck of the woods was “Killed In Action.”

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      My Kia was killed in action, which is why I traded her in just after a year of ownership.

      Such an awful vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        @Tuffjuff

        Can you please explain what about your Kia was so awful? I’ve seen your posts before about having had a “bad” car, but have not seen specifics.

        Was there something legitimately wrong with your car, or was it just an owner’s right to be picky?

        I’ve had a Forte for 7 months, admittedly not a long time, and have put 8000 miles on it without any issues. My friend owned a 2005 Accent, bought new, until this year when somebody smashed it in a parking lot, without issue. His mother in law just sold him a 2005 Tucson, that’s been fairly trouble free, and my other friend’s parents have had 3 Sonatas, the first of which (a 2000) was kind of crap, but that’s old Hyundai. The latter 2 a 2005 and a 2010 haven’t given them any trouble.

        I know that many of my examples are Hyundai, but being part of the same overall mega-group they seem pretty representative.

        I don’t want to start anything, but I’m curious.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Sounds like Kia has a winner here

  • avatar
    thirty-three

    “I don’t find the front overhang to be too much of a styling fohpah…”

    It’s faux pax :) Made me laugh because I’ve spent the afternoon reviewing other people’s work, and I came to TTAC for a break.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Kia came on the US scene in 1987, in the form of the Ford Festiva. The Ford Aspire was a Kia as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Kia didn’t come on the scene in 1987, the Ford Festiva came on the scene in 1987. As it was not marketed as a Kia and did not have Kia badging, 90%+ of buyers never knew a Kia was in their driveway.

  • avatar
    TurboDeezl

    Looks like guaranteed junk. Remember, its a Kia. You cannot sell this car without losing your shirt.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Looks like a quite decent car. Remember, it’s not 1996 anymore. You cannot use the same old preconceived notions without looking like a narrow-minded stiff.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      I’m going to go ahead and hope that by “guaranteed” you mean “significantly longer warranty than the competition”. Which, yes – that’s another aspect in the Kia’s favor…

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      ALG which automakers use to set lease rates gives the residual value on the Optima 4 stars (which is the same for the Accord).

      Now the hybrid version most likely won’t fare as well.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    So if you like the Sonata Hyrbid you’ll like the Optima Hybrid? Sounds like a good reason to play the dealers against each other. Can you say “I am my own worst compeditor.”

  • avatar
    stuki

    9cuft trunk is Boxster territory. In a 5 person car. You really have to know you won’t be doing much in the way of road trips before making this your main car.

    Unless there’s some sort of computer industry RAID philosophy behind Tesla’s 18000 laptop batteries, You’d think it is about time for Mr. Musk to go to Korea for batteries.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I just did a triple-take and my wifey noticed too – the 5th photo down of the steering wheel and dash? It appears to me one of the funniest cartoon faces I have ever seen! Anyone else notice? Perhaps my thought is a result of our west coast trip and a visit to Hollywood, hence Bugs Bunny’s star on the Hollywood walk of fame – he is, after all, my hero, so it’s my new avatar for now!

    As far as the car goes – I really like the looks of this car and study it every time I see one, and wonder if I would enjoy driving one as much as I like looking at one…

  • avatar
    Almost Jake

    The car is distinctive on the road. Just yesterday, one caught my eye in traffic.

    However, the elephant in the room is depreciation.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Is the new Camry Hybrid really the better car for the bargain hunter? No, the answer is: a turbo Optima of course. With EPA 22/34 MPG and 274HP/269lb-ft on tap for $29,600 it’s hard for the piston head to make the hybrid leap.

    Well, you can get a Chrysler 200 V6 for like $20500 and you clocked that at a 14 second 1/4 mile and 27 MPG.

  • avatar

    AWESOME WRITTEN REVIEW and I LOVED YOUR VIDEO REVIEW ON YOUTUBE.

    I find it incredible that both you and I came to the EXACT same conclusion about the Hybrid Optima.

    http://www.epinions.com/review/2011_Kia_Optima_epi/content_554427059844

    The Turbo Optima is the better choice of the two, but, for the better driver BUY THE FORD FUSION.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    A rather obvious issue is that you compared the trunk space to the older 2011 Camry Hybrid that nobody in their right mind is going to buy (more expensive, less efficient). The 2012 Camry Hybrid has the biggest trunk in the class at 13.1 cubic feet.

    Also it’s nice to have heated and ventilated seats but the Kia’s are notoriously uncomfortable for longer trips, you really ought to have taken it for a longer drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      My daily commute is over an hour each way and we did take a 2.5 hour weekend trip, I actually found the seats fairly comfortable for the longer trip, I don’t think a 4+ hour trip would have been an issue. Seats are subjective depending on your build, so your mileage may vary.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Those wheels remind me of the wheels on the early ’90s Olds Cutlass that my father briefly owned, after he painted the inset sections black so that they wouldn’t look quite as terrible when he tried to sell the car. He hated those ugly wheels. They looked better after he painted them, but they were still as ugly as the Kia wheels.

    http://www.originalwheels.com/oldsmobile-wheels/images/oldsmobile-cutlass-rims-1632-b.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Yeah, not my kind of wheel, either. Maybe it isn’t as heavy as it looks, but the super-wide spokes sure make them look massive.

      If the Optima were in my future, I’d be replacing the wheels with aftermarket ones before I drove it off the dealer’s lot. Fortunately that’s an easy change …

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    Heated steering wheel? Please. Heated seats are bad enough. They make you feel like you’ve just emptied your bladder, and you didn’t even know it was full. A heated steering wheel must be for places that don’t get very cold. In cold country you’re wearing heavy gloves or mittens, parka, and long underwear all the time anyway.

    My neighbors just bought a Kia Optima for $19,000. They love it, and they’re getting 38 mpg on the highway. At that price and that economy, the hybrid makes no sense. And $5,000 for the options package is reasonable? The last time I paid that much for a whole car was 12 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      I would have gladly paid for a heated steering wheel on my new car had such an option been offered in this country. I don’t like driving with mittens or super-thick gloves.

      And, yes, I’m in Canada.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I’m with you on that, and I don’t even live in Canada. My hybrid’s wheel stays cold long after the interior is comfortable. Sounds like a silly thing, but after you enjoy a feature in another car that you don’t have, you often want it yourself. Heated/cooled seats and a heated wheel are just those kind of things…

        I’ll also add I get worse mileage – 33.1mpg – but about a second less to 60. A fair trade in my opinion. Sometimes trading off the ultimate mileage makes for a more enjoyable car…

      • 0 avatar
        fred schumacher

        The problem with warm, comfortable interiors in winter driving conditions is that people are not prepared for the unexpected, when systems fail. I see this all the time.

        I had this struggle with my children riding the bus to school in Northern Minnesota, when they wouldn’t put on their snow suits and Sorrels. I would say, what if the bus breaks down? They would say that the bus is warm enough. Well, then, what if the fuel gels and the engine doesn’t run. And they would say that the school would send out another bus. And I would say, that bus may take a long time getting to you.

        And the above scenario happened when one our school buses broke down on the way back north from the Mesabi Iron Range. It was 40 below. The cheerleaders had only their short skirts on. It took the replacement bus an hour to get there, and then it broke down a few miles down the road.

        We get too dependent on support systems. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of discomfort. It keeps you on your toes.

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that argument at all.

        You’re arguing that people should forego creature comforts, such as heated steering wheels, because one day, they might…. need to be prepared for the unexpected?

        Might as well skip heated cabins altogether, eh?

      • 0 avatar
        geggamoya

        Just keep some dry, warm clothes in the trunk. Along with the jerrycan, axe, spade, booster, rope, blanket, oil, coolant, wiper fluid and chains… ;)

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        fred schumacher, that’s why you should read Consumer Report before you buy a car. A car should not break down in cold weather (or any weather).

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        “Just keep some dry, warm clothes in the trunk. Along with the jerrycan, axe, spade, booster, rope, blanket, oil, coolant, wiper fluid and chains… ;)”

        Dont forget a rifle to fight off the wolves.. dont laugh, wait until climate change fully hits.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Fred Schumacher, Minnesota’s Dwight Schrute. If you would spend more than $5000 on your car you could spend less time and effort planning to break down on the side of the road. I have not had a car leave me stranded since selling my POS college car by just buying a decent vehicle in the first place and doing regular, basic maintenance.

      BTW, cheerleaders in snowmobile suits? Where do you go for fun, Pakistan?

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      There’s no way in hell I’d pay for that kind of crap.

      If you live in the artic, sure, I can see someone wanting it, but since a very large number of people don’t live in a frozen wasteland, it makes very little sense to use a blanket statement about value when there is no value added for so many of us.

      If I did live in a place that was so dangerously cold, I’d use the $5k or so these features cost to move to better part of the world.

    • 0 avatar
      jplew138

      @fred schumacher

      Are. You. Crazy???
      I think the term “Luddite” applies here. Just saying…

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    We should just remember that the enthusiast crowd and the used-car-only crowd are not the only demographic out there. For the shopper that loves tech and “upgrades”, the content of the option package is a good value. Of course if you don’t want some of those features it no longer is as good of a deal. For me however, I’d take it all.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    Great review Alex. Although I’ve always been a sucker for German cars, the looks/content/price proposition of the Optima (Turbo, in particular) is very attractive. In fact, I can’t think of another $30k sedan that’s nearly as appealing.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    Dealer has no brochures for the 2012 Optima, the website for Kia has nothing at all for the 2012 model and refuses to allow a request for any brochure due to poor programming of the site. An attempt to contact Kia customer service via the website fails due to programming in the site. A call to Kia customer service results in a 10 minute wait to be answered and even they do not have a brochure. Nowhere can you find the official specs for the 2012 Kia. Some websites purport to have them, but they must be taken with a grain of kimchi.

    How can anyone have much faith in a company that fails so badly in communicating with the buying public? Do you really want to spend up to $30 large with a company that cannot manage a simple website? I have cash to buy the car, but no information. I am quickly losing faith that Kia is a car maker rather than just another throw-away appliance maker.

    Have others had this experience?

  • avatar
    TAGSSKEE1

    I was SO excited about the 2012 Kia Hybrid. I test drove it last week, I was SO impressed, nice ride, great electronics, ects. I was driving home really thinking about purchasing one when a very big DUHHH, hit me. The reviewer of this car leaves out a very important design flaw for the kia ‘hybrid’. I recalled the conversation I had with the car salesman during the test drive. me: “So you don’t have to plug this car in?” car salesman “no, it charges it’s self thru the gas engine” me: ‘WoW” that’s awesome. I press on the gas and it goes beyond 20 miles an hour and the car salesman points out on the nifty dash how it shows the car going from the electric battery to the gas engine. me: ‘COOl, so I ask the car salesman “so the electric battery switches to the gas engine after 20 miles an hr? car salesman :” yeah, the car needs gas to go the higher speeds”…..so why did it take me an hour to realize that in order to get the ‘electric’ battery to work I would have to drive under 20 miles an hour!!!WHO DRIVES 20 miles an hour!!!!!In essence the only time your ‘electric’ engine would kick in is when you coming to a stop!!!So much for ‘hybrid being a great option only if your 90 years old and drive 20 mph on a regular basis.

    • 0 avatar
      Dust

      How can you be buying a Hybrid VEHICLE without even a basic understanding even the basics about how they work?

      The gas and electric engines are both used during acceleration, or entine the engine needs to work.

      The gas engine will be used less at steady state driving (even if you accelerate to 90mph, if you just set cruise on a flat road, it will still just need your electric to maintain that speed, until you mash the gas).

      The electric engine will be used less when the battery charge has dropped.

      Hybrid batteries charge either from a genererator driven by the gas engine, or through regenerative breaking. That is, the energy being expended by stopping the car is instead captured to charge the batteries. This is why city millage numbers are so good for hybrids, and hiway numbers are about the same as a similar sized gas only engine.

      As far as plugging in, you never plug in a hybrid… its whole point is to capture that wasted energy from braking, and get your city miles up.

      Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) have this “plug in the vehicle” to pre-charge the battery before you drive to work. Its like a normal hybrid, but with a larger battery to give your electric engine a “head start” in the morning on the way to work.

      Extended Range Electric Vehicles (EREVs) are the vehicles that you plug in, and then they drive around on electric engine all the way to work and back. However, since it would suck to get stuck on the hiway with a dead battery (not like you can grab a can of electricity at the serivce station), they throw in a small gas generator that never drives the car, but chargers your batteries fast enough that you can use the electric car while the generator charges it.

      PLEASE read about Hybrids, expected battery life, and cost to replace batteries before you jump into the hybrid craze. You’ll thank me later :)

      You need to research Hybrids before you buy one.


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