Kia Quietly Updating 2013 Optima Hybrid

A quick scan of the Internet will lead you to written and video reviews of the 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid, but you may want to take these with a grain of salt.

They were all done based on the 2012 model year car on the assumption the model would carry forth with no changes.

However, just as Hyundai is doing with its Sonata Hybrid, Kia is making post-11th hour updates to improve its car that was the subject of a reduction in its EPA mileage rating.

The Hyundai and Kia models were also the basis for a class action law suit, and prompted Kia and Hyundai to set up funds to compensate owners.

Exactly what the 2013 changes will be is anyone’s guess. We were in process of reviewing a 2012 Optima Hybrid loaned to us by Kia in place of a 2013 just as others have and our discovery of Hyundai’s on-going work prompted a call to Kia.

If you look at the U.S. Energy Department’s Web site, a dead giveaway is the absence of an Optima Hybrid in its Find a Car section for 2013 model year cars. What’s more, Kia’s media site lists only the 2012 model, with the latest press release dated 2011. This was not an oversight. The regular Optima featured by Kia’s media site is a 2013.

The media rep we spoke to at Kia said he could not disclose anything, saying he has been given no information himself on the 2013 Optima Hybrid from Korea, but we may hear something by the end of the month. Hyundai’s rep similarly said the 2013 Sonata Hybrid was pending redesign in Korea, and news may be announced in the next 30-60 days from now, though he could not be certain.

And, Kia and Hyundai did come fully clean with their existing cars, so it would appear they are working to remedy the cars which are already quite competitive, and do relatively well in sales month after month.

Hyundai says we will be impressed with the Sonata Hybrid upgrades, so we’ll take it on faith that Kia intends to be impressive with the Optima Hybrid as well.

Of course, this being well into the 2013 model year, assuming they are released as 2013s, they will not see a full selling year, but so it goes.

That improvements are needed and being taken seriously is a positive sign from the Korean automakers. They have been chipping away at Toyota’s market share, and when shown where they fall short in competitiveness, are apparently redoubling their efforts to be fully competitive.

We’ll let you know more when we do.