Latest Reader Question (Jan. 17, 2018)

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

David asks: What is your opinion of the Kia Optima?  Is this a good used car buy in either hybrid or standard form? Is it a better option than say Mazda6. I would be looking at 2014 or newer.

My reply: The Optima is a different car, first of all! The Mazda is a more rewarding car to drive fast in the curves. In a straight line, the Optima is just as quick – or quicker, when ordered with its available turbocharged engine. So which will you enjoy driving more? This depends on how you drive! I recommend a test drive of both to get a sense of the different feel I am attempting to convey and also to convey to others reading this the importance of matching yourself to the car by actually driving the car and its rivals before you buy anything.

I do not recommend the hybrid Optima. I do not recommend the hybrid version of any of the cars in this class.

They are all converted hybrids, first of all.

This means they were not designed to be hybrids (as the Prius is, for example). So you get a hybrid drivetrain grafted onto a car not designed to optimize the hybrid layout. They are thus usually over-heavy and not very efficient and always too expensive to make any economic sense.

The mileage difference is typically 8 and maybe 10 MPG better overall vs. the four cylinder/gas-engine-only version of the same model. But you pay several thousand dollars more for the hybrid drivetrain. How long will it take you to “earn back” this expense in the form of lower gas bills?

A very long time.

Possibly, never.

Keep in mind that gas now costs about $2.30 per gallon on average. It is almost impossible to make an economic case for any hybrid while gas is this cheap. Granted, gas prices may go up, but if they don’t – you just wasted several thousand dollars you might have spent on other things.

Hope this was helpful!

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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