By Mark Kleis
Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 @ 3:55 am
 
Kia is about to join the ranks of green automakers that offer at least one gas-electric hybrid vehicle in the U.S. when the all-new Optima Hybrid arrives next month, but before the sedan could go on sale, it needed a price.

The final decision came in at $26,500 for the base model, which comes with comparable equipment to the standard Optima LX A/T trim level, but adds features such as eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, dual zone automatic temperature control with rear vents, push-button start with smart key, Supervision meter cluster with LCD display, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, one-touch automatic up/down on front windows, chrome interior door handles, glove box illumination, rear reading lamps, and fixed rear seats with ski pass-through.

In addition to being the brand's first-ever hybrid with fuel economy ratings of 35 city, 40 highway, the Optima Hybrid also bears the distinction of being the first-ever Kia product to offer the automaker's unique UVO infotainment system, which was co-developed with Microsoft. This system follows the same vein as Ford's Sync, but with a unique layout and design found only in the UVO offering. UVO offers Bluetooth-based wireless connectivity to enable drivers and passengers to operate their phone, receive and respond to text messages and access music with voice commands and simple button commands.

Should customers seek more luxury and technology in their Optima Hybrid, the available Premium Technology Package can be checked off on the ordering box for $5,000. This package adds a panoramic sunroof, a unique 17-inch alloy wheel design, four-way power adjustable front passenger's seat, driver's seat memory, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel, HID headlamps with automatic leveling, leatherette-wrapped center fascia, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with Homelink and compass, a navigation system with back-up camera and SIRIUS Traffic and an eight-speaker Infinity 10 audio system (these available features replace the UVO system).

Look for the first examples of the Kia Optima Hybrid to hit dealer lots next month.