Gas Price Are Increasing: Try a Hybrid
by The Car Family

Rising gas prices that are only going to get higher this summer during peak driving season. With average commuting times in the 45-minute range and traffic getting worse perhaps it is time to consider a hybrid sedan that offers between 55 and 70 plus miles per gallon. The Car Family selected two of the highest rated hybrid sedans for quality and fuel mileage, the Prius Prime, and the Hyundai Ioniq.

Hyundai’s Ioniq is a traditional hybrid with a battery pack helping the engine when needed and at low speeds. The Toyota Prime is a plug-in hybrid which uses two battery packs. One is for electric only power for around 25 miles when the main battery pack takes over and helps the gasoline engine as needed with a 70 The Ioniq is rated at 58 mpg and the Toyota can top 70. The joy of the Prime is threefold. First, you may get both state and federal checks and/or tax credits and the Prime also qualifies you for the high occupancy lane sticker, which is priceless some days.

Mom’s view: These cars are perfect for commuter or trips, and both can go over 500 miles between refueling. The average gas mileage of all cars sold in America is about 25 mpg which means that these hybrids can easily cut you fuel budget in half while still providing convenience and a range of safety features. So the big question is, if hybrids are so good, why aren’t they popular? The answer isn’t simple. It could be bad information, the difficulty in breaking habits, not enough room for six, or fear of change. Regardless, the best way is to test drive one yourself. The Hyundai dash and driving experience are more closely related to a regular car. The Prime takes more time to get used to but is easy to master. The Prime exterior is very dramatic while the Ioniq more mundane. Seating in both hybrids was adequate, but certainly not in the luxury category. Parking is a snap, and the rear hatches easy to open; however, the Prime did not have nearly as much cargo space as the Ionig due to the location of Toyota’s battery pack. The Toyota has room for four passengers and the Hyundai five. Within minutes, I was right at home with both cars. The Hyundai has a more typical cockpit while the Prius has the instrument cluster in the center of the dash. The Prius Prime has Toyota Safety Sense which includes pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, radar cruise control and rearview camera. The Ioniq with the Ultimate Package has the same capabilities. The Hyundai interior is quite simple and familiar. The Prime requires some adjustments from the short shifting knob to the center-mounted instrument cluster. I would like either hybrid and with rebates, they are both attractive buys and lease rates are favorable.

Dad’s view: These vehicles have instant torque that makes on-ramp and passing situations less stressful. Consumer Reports and the JD Powers rate these models highly in terms of quality. Ride feel is very good and the steering inspires confidence. The stop-start feature is seamless and the regenerating brakes have a solid feel. The cars get to 60 mph in about ten seconds and handle extremely well. The big difference is that Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive uses an electric continuously variable transmission formula while the Hyundai has a six-speed dual clutch automatic that delivers a more normal driving feel.

Young man’s view: The Prime is loaded with technology. You get a large 11.6-inch display compatible with Siri Eyes-Free and Toyota’s Entune App Suite that offers Pandora, traffic, and weather while the Ioniq hybrid with the Ultimate package has an 8-inch touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and Hyundai’s Blue Link. The Prius Prime Advanced comes with Prime Apps, which can manage your charging status, locate a charging station, change the interior temperature, and locate your vehicle. Hyundai’s Blue Link basically does all that Prime Apps could do as well as integrate with Amazon Alexa, Apple Watch and Android Wear watches. Both cars have wireless charging for your phone. Voice recognition is so-so in the Ioniq.

Young working woman’s view: If you plug in the Prime you can expect between 20 and 25 battery powered miles while the Hyundai does not have the extra batter. The trade-off is in the price as the Ioniq starts in the low $20,000s and the Prime in the $30,000 range. Is it worth the extra money for the high occupancy lane, government rebates, and better mileage? Well, for 909 readers that decision requires some serious math time. Since I do not have access to an outlet where I could plug-in the Prime the Ioniq would be the best choice. However, if I did the Toyota would be my winner.

Family conference: Hyundai is bringing out a plug-in hybrid to challenge the Prius Prime but as of now the hybrid is the most efficient family vehicle they offer. The warranty on the Hyundai is excellent with a lifetime promise whereas the Toyota is more limited. Pricing is also in the Hyundai’s court costing nearly $10,000 less. However, the Prius Prime is essentially loaded and the base Hyundai needs several options to be competitive. The bottom line is that the Prius Prime is best if you have a place to plug it in and can afford the extra cost. Otherwise, the Hyundai is a good choice with excellent cargo space and is more responsive on the open road. Either way, you are going to be visiting gasoline stations much less with a fill-up yielding over 500 miles or more from their 11 gallon tanks.


Mind Mapping or Connected or Linking Learning
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz

This teaching method encourages outside the box thinking as well as teamwork. It is essentially
a thinking flow chart that maps ideas and links them in such a way as to enable educators to use integrated lessons and build upon previous learning. The creation represents the ideas of individuals and is arranged around a common theme or word. This method can be used to generate new thinking as well as cover all levels of Bloom’s taxonomy from listing to analyzing. An exceptional tool to start a lesson and to bring students into the mix.

Note: I should note that Tony Buzan has the trademark and is credited with starting mind mapping. However, I called it “linking learning” and was doing this in my classroom in the 1960s. Unfortunately, I was busy in the classroom and did not have the foresight or skill to share and publish it.

The most important part of this approach is that it allows the student to make connections more easily and relate a great many facts to one word. Users can see data from a variety of viewpoints and make connections that go far beyond what the teacher may add as they bring their own knowledge to the table.

Mind mapping enables them to see knowledge in a visual manner and allows them to organize data more easily. Remember not to be too specific when you start out and have students do this in group work is excellent and promotes thinking and sharing.

It is advantageous to use the board to provide examples of this method. Writing a dog on the board and ask students to voice ideas about what could be linked to that noun. The results could be as simple as breeds to relatives to equipment to movies. Now point to one word and ask how that relates to the others. In very little time they will make the “connections” and be able to link it to other learnings, even those in other subject areas.

To start the individuals on a project at a basic level you can use a family tree and have the students add the names of their closest relatives or those they are living with. Next, they add a detail about each one. After a few minutes, they will be adding more data. Next, ask them to make connections based on where they live, hobbies, jobs, etc. When they finish they will have compiled a basic connection of mind mapping paper. The users are now ready to write about what they learned.

I highly recommend you take a look at the resources listed and try to make one yourself before taking it to the class. It is especially effective in dealing with students and pocess limited writing skills as it helps them build their sentences step-by-step. It also enables students to see the materials using images that are easier for many of them to make connections. The use of color as well helps students track ideas. A real plus is that this connections strategy also helps improve recall/memory.

An explanation

A basic site for using mind mapping.

How to use Coggle video
This is similar to mind mapping.

A video on various mind mapping tools with several examples. A good starting point.

Top 30 Free Mind Mapping Tools

Freemind download site
As Coggle, this resource makes creating maps easy.

A huge selection of mind mapping images.

Basic starter site

YouTube videos on the subject
Some of these are well done and others are

Prius Prime: 70 mpg at 70 mph
by The Car Family
For more reviews go to

Forgot the old Prius, the new Prius Prime is better in every way except for the interior room. It handles well, has frisky acceleration, and is loaded with features. The larger battery is good for 25 miles of electric-powered go and you can fill up the 11.3-gallon tank on regular and go over 600 miles. Indeed, it was easy for us to get 70 miles per gallon at freeway speeds and even better results when the traffic got stickier. Some may decry its busy exterior, but the beauty here is on the inside where it counts. Yes, there are a few other suitors for the environmentally conscious from Hyundai and Chevrolet, but they do not offer the proven reliability of this Toyota. As for interior space, the new Prime battery pack takes up passenger space limiting the cargo capacity and back seat room. It is well worth the sacrifice.

We have been enthusiastic about Prius since it came out in the 1990s, and we are just as excited about this new model. It is quieter and easier to maneuver. However, the larger battery pack takes longer to charge using a 110 outlet requiring about six hours of plug-in time to get the full benefits of the electric battery range whereas the previous model could be topped off in three. A 240 line is noticeably faster, but may require residential rewiring.

Be aware that before you buy a Prius Prime your state may have incentives to encourage their use, including high-occupancy lane usage. The federal government also gives you a tax advantage such as a $2500 tax credit for the Toyota. In addition, every vehicle rating service names the Prius as one of the most dependable cars you can own. For example, in 25,000 miles of travel, our car had 80 percent of its brake pads remaining as the Prius used the regenerative braking to help with stopping.

Our test vehicle was the Advanced model that lists for about $34,000. You can order the Premium model ($28,800) and still get the 11.6-inch central touch screen, and a power driver seat, keyless entry/start, and wireless smartphone charging. There is also the entry-level Plus ($ 27,000) with considerably fewer features.

Mom’s view: Make sure to order the Star Safety System that includes ABS, traction control, brake assist for emergency stopping power, stability control, and electronic brake force distribution that equalizes stopping force to each wheel. I especially like the Smart Stop Technology that automatically halts the vehicle when both the accelerator and the brake pedal are pressed at the same time. Parking is a breeze with a 33.4 radius. Safety wise you get LED headlights and taillights, heated door mirrors, programmed grille shutters, navigation, automatic climate control, heated front seats, a proximity key and push-button start plus airbags everywhere. It is a joy to park, but the rear hatch lift over is a little high. The Prius Prime Advanced featured a heated steering wheel, color head-up display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, parking sensors, self-parking system, and blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, more powerful headlights, automatic high-beams, and lane-departure warning with a lane-keeping assist.

Dad’s view: The ride on the new Prius has dramatically improved with independent MacPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone style multi-link rear suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars. The electric steering is excellent, and the electric motors and four-cylinder gas engine work to provide a nimble and satisfying ride. If you need more power, such as for passing, clicking the Power button will bring plenty of acceleration. The Prius Prime is a joy to drive on longer trips as the seats have been improved. One of the biggest problems we had was forgetting to check the gas gauge and were shocked one day to notice the fuel warning light illuminated. Fifteen dollars later, we had a full tank and another 600 miles plus of trouble-free driving. The Prime has a plug-in port to charge the 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that enables an EPA-rated 25 miles of electric-only driving range. The combination of electric and gas propulsion and the continuously variable automatic transmission are nearly undetectable. Even when the Prius automatically turns off when stopped in traffic, there is no jerky movement as is common in the competition. The lithium-ion battery pack resides under the rear seats and weighs 265 pounds. Except for the noise from the tires chosen for gas mileage maximization vs quiet ride, the Prius Prime Advanced is easily the best and most reliable plug-in hybrid you can buy. In the past, the resale has been excellent as well. If you are worried the battery pack, it has a ten-year or eight-year warranty, depending on your state’s standards.

Young working woman’s view: This is a four-passenger sedan and the seats are comfortable. One can choose among a couple of setting depending on your needs while driving. The EV Auto mode is your best choice. Among your other choices are select Eco (very slow) or Power (very fast). The interior is well done and there are a variety of storage bins and plugs. I like the Prius Prime, but living in a condo I do not have access to an electric outlet, and thus the regular Prius would be my choice. Overall, easy to park, maneuver, and does not attract undue attention from ne’re-do-wells.

Young working male’s view: Toyota continues with its dash centered display, but the images are nearly invisible if you are wearing polarized glasses. The Advanced model has semi autonomous parking and an excellent 11.6-inch LCD touch screen that works well. Thankfully, there is a volume control knob. The JBL sound system is adequate. The inductive phone-charging pad in the center console, but the white color of the charging surfaces is a bit much. The large monitor looks good, but just means another layer of learning before you get accustomed to it. For example, the lower half of the display is buried at the bottom of the screen when you are using the GPS map. There is an abundance of audio alarms that need to be addressed before leaving the dealership. You are notified when a window is down when parked or a lane is being crossed without a turn signal on and a variety of other warnings. Finally, according to our local Toyota dealer, the Prius Prime plug-in chord costs over $1000 so keep good care of it.

Family conference: We highly recommend the Prius Prime to those who drive in heavy commuter traffic and still want to take a long vacation knowing that the Prius has excellent mileage, features, quality, and resale. Don’t let is futuristic exterior deter you from considering this gas sipper. It has a heart of gold and lithium-ion.

Kia 900: A Luxury Sedan for Value Shoppers

Kia continues to challenge buyer’s perceptions winning JD Powers awards for initial quality and now digging deeper into the luxury car segment with the surprising K900. Not only is this Kia well priced, it is loaded with features that challenge any car in the luxury car range. This sedan has a tremendous array of electronics and safety features and a standard 311 horsepower V6 or a neck snapping V8 option pushing 420 horsepower to the rear wheels. This Kia is all about value and class.

2017 K900

There are not only an abundance of opulent features in the K900. The leather seats are quilted and that makes them quicker to heat and cool and avoid sticky cling. Even the least expensive Premium V6 model offer heated seats, navigation and a large infotainment screen. Move to the Luxury model and you get better sound and the V8 option offers a 360-degree camera and lane departure warning. Select the VIP package add lumbar support, front-seat cushion extensions, soft-closing doors and a larger display screen monitor. The interior is attractive and functional with some sensational features such as a heads up display that shows the speed limit, your speed, and even the speed of the windshield wipers. On the downside, the exterior is conservative and the smooth handling may be too soft for some. However, it corners very well. Our fuel mileage was 18 mpg in mixed driving. The K 900 has transmission settings such as Winter, Eco, Sport and Smart. The latter learns your driving habits and adjusts accordingly. Eco is for better fuel mileage and Sport is when you want to challenge your insurance premiums.

Mom’s view: The Kia K900 seats five and all the seats were very comfortable. In our loaded model where you could get ventilated and power-reclining rear seats. The leather is very soft and comforting and the easy to read optional 12.3 inch infotainment screen quick to react. The trunk lid opens wide and reveals nearly 16 cubic feet of cargo room. I always tell 909 readers to order all the safety options they can afford. The K900 has satellite navigation, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and Kia’s UVO smartphone app that lets you set driving boundaries and speed alerts and even locate the car. Even base models have front and rearview cameras, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and headlights that pivot as the car turns. Optional items include a lane departure warning, a 360-degree-view camera, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with braking assist and, if the Kia computers detect a possible front-end collision, it can apply the brakes. There are airbags everywhere, traction control and stability control, ABS, and more.

Dad’s view: This is a large car that has an understated look that is quite appealing. The V8 engine is very quiet, except when provoked by selecting the Sport setting. After all, you have 420 horsepower to explore and the sound when whipped snarls with enthusiasm. The brakes are excellent and the steering well weighed for a car in this class. To give you an idea of the features the K900 offers consider that the Luxury models also offer a 900-watt 17-speaker audio system, leather seating, heated steering wheel, Kia’s Surround View Monitor, side and rear sun screens, Dynamic Bending Lights, and an LCD instrument cluster. Though some competitors’ nontraditional gearshift selectors can be annoying the Kia’s operates easily enough, clicking into gear with a leather pistol grip. The seamless shifts from the 8-speed transmission make long distance travel relaxing. Some people would call the handling dull, but when you enter a corner at speed the K900 it clings quite well.

Young working woman’s view: This is a really enjoyable car, but it is very large. Regardless, get the Luxury version with the VIP options and let your rear seat passengers enjoy the generous leg room and a panoramic sunroof that extends over their heads. With the key in your pocket the car can recognize you and turn on the lights. When you exit, just a touch of the door handle and it is locked.

Young working male’s view: There is an abundance of USB and 120V outlets and they are well lighted. On many cars, these outlets are hard to locate, but Kia added a light around the outlets so they are simple to find. I was able to connect my cell phone to the system easily thanks to the large button in the center console that controls many features and enables you to enter navigation, sound, and more. Kia also, thank goodness, makes the radio easy to access with a simple on-off and a volume control knobs. Back to the basics are sometimes the best, even for a techno guru like me. The 3D camera was well displayed and the upgraded stereo, a Lexicon, is the same type of system used by Rolls-Royce, should anyone be interested. The LED headlights are especially good as they provide excellent illumination to the sides of the road.

2017 K900

Family conference: Relaxed driving is the K900’s forte. It has plenty of grunt when needed, can corner better than you would expect, has a plethora of safety features, and a starting price under $50,000. The outstanding 10-year/100,000-mile power train warranty and award winning reliability statistics make this an appealing choice to those willing to march to a different drummer.

Kia Cadenza: Economical Luxury
by The Car Family
for more reviews got to

With the average new car price around $33,000 one wonders how Kia can price the feature laden Cedenza for less and still offer what J.D. Powers acknowledged is the highest Initial Quality rating of any car. They even bettered the luxury brands such as Buick and Cadillac. Well, the answer is simple, they offer more. Indeed, if you are looking for a family sized sedan that is all new for 2017, loaded with electronics, a stately stance, an abundance of cargo and passenger room, and a regal look the Cadenza is one of the best deals anywhere.

2017 Cadenza SXL

Mom’s view: Driving it makes you feel like you are the Duchess of Cambridge with an interior that is comfortable adorned in faux wood and chrome accents, easy to master controls, and a quiet ride. There is leather everywhere, power-adjustable front seats, a power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, position memory settings and even heated rear seats. The luxury car feeling abounds, The trunk is 16 cubic feet, but the Cadenza has a smart opening trunk that automatically opens when the proximity key is close to the back of the car. You really need to see it in action. The interior has an abundance of storage areas that are well placed. Safety wise there is a rearview camera and such options as blind spot detection, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning system, lane change assist, lane departure warning, and a 360-degree camera system. All the controls are in easy reach, although the touch screen is a bit far for shorter people. The doors open wide and it makes entry easy even wearing a dress. Visibility is good in all directions and the cabin is very quiet. Our test car, the Technology model, had heated and cooled front seats. I would recommend this version over the less expensive Premium model. Mall parking is much easier with the overhead camera view. All told, this is an exceptional value and enjoyable drive. The main competition is more expensive, but certainly not as luxurious.

Dad’s view: All Cadenzas are front wheel drive and have a 290 horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 engine paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. We got 25 mpg in mixed driving. The sedan is meant for driving in comfort and that is reflected in its smooth handling with adequate acceleration for passing and onramp merging.
There are four driving modes. On start-up the car defaults to Comfort mode. Next you can choose from Eco, Sport, or Smart mode with each selection changing steering weight and transmission dynamics. We left it in Smart mode. That mode monitors your driving habits style and adopts accordingly. your driving style.
The transmission is smooth and brakes easy to modulate and provide exceptional stopping. This is a large sedan and it smooths out roads easily, but high speed canyon runs are not its forte. Steering is a bit light. The Cadenzas is enjoyable to drive and relaxing. I found driving it in heavy traffic was reassuring with all the safety features and above average braking and gas mileage. With the usual 909 traffic almost worse every day, the Cadenza seemed to smooth all that over with and an 18.5 gallon fuel tank enabling 500 miles of highway travel on regular fuel. The bottom line is that this Kia is priced even under the competition and they do not offer nearly as much. If you are into value and still want luxury, the Cadenza is easily your best bet.

Young working male’s view: Where to start? Well, the only thing Kia lacks is a hotspot Internet connection. Otherwise it has the electronics handled and fairly nicely. With Bluetooth, dual-zone automatic climate control, a proximity key, an eight-speaker sound system, infotainment system, a 7-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a USB port, HD Radio, and satellite radio. You can also order an optional 12-speaker Harman/Kardon surround-sound audio system, a wireless smartphone charger, an 8-inch touch screen, voice-command navigation it pretty much leaves the higher priced competition in the dust and when you add the head-up display with turn-by-turn directions and speed you can’t help but wonder what Kia has in store for us next. Overall, a little to big for me, Kias Niro and Sorento being my favorites, but certainly noteworthy for those wishing to make a statement without busting the credit rating.

Young working woman’s view: The Kia Cadenza comes in three trims: Premium, Technology, and Limited with each offering a few more options. Regardless, this is a friendly sedan that is well thought out right down to the deep glove compartment and a pocket in each door. LED interior lighting is a nice touch and I loved the vanity mirrors.

Family conference: Kia products have vastly improved, and the all new Cadenza is just one example. Kia caries the exceptional five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. It is a bargain even though we thought the infotainment system was a little slow. It you like luxury and don’t like paying for it the Cadenza must be considered.

Great Mother’s Day lesson plan
by Alan Haskvitz

Mother’s Day cars are an excellent teaching tool as well as an opportunity for the students to learn about famous women in history.

The lesson starts with the students developing a list of positive character traits. There are some excellent sites listed below. Next, they research famous women in history and make a list of what traits those women possessed. This can either be done as as a group or as a class project.

After the research is complete the students each have to look at the traits and make a list of those traits that their mother or other care-giver have and the other famous women who shared those traits.

When this research is completed, it usually takes about two days, the students are given card stock and coloring tools and start to create their Mother’s Day cards. On the first page is a list of the famous women with a greeting such as You are Famous, Mom.

On the second or inside cover page is a list of the character traits that the students found. Older students may even be able to provide an example of each significant woman’s trait with a quote or summary of the deed(s).

On page three the student writes Happy Mother’s Day and lists the traits that their mother has and what other famous women share that favorable trait.

When the card is done the teacher needs to check it over for accuracy and offer suggestions as needed.

The result is a Mother’s Day card that is unique and highly appreciated. Depending on the student the project should take a couple of periods for the research and a period for the artwork and finalization.

Here is a site that could help the student start their research. It is about the character traits of Amelia Earhart.

Famous women in history
Lessons, videos, and more

Time for Kids
Famous women stories

Excellent list of important women
From Scholastic, short biographies by last name.

What is character?
This article explains character and gives several good examples.

For the more traditional approach, here are some tried and true ideas.

Mother’s Day Craft Ideas

Basic site with brief history of Mothers Day and Projects

Games for Mother’s Day
For younger students

W omen’s Rights lessons
For older students

Kia Hybrids: Ready for Higher Gas Prices.
by The Car Family
for more reviews go to

This is the best time to look into hybrids with new fuel taxes on the horizon and no better place to start are with the new Kia Niro SUV and Kia Optima starting at $22,890 and $25,995 while pushing past 40 mpg. No doubt these Kias with their exceptional reliability rating and stellar warranty are worth considering especiallyconsidering the average new car is going for $32,000.

With most readers having an average one-way commute time of over 30 minutes and 15 percent spending an hour in traffic these hybrids are ideal, essentially offering savings up to 50 percent in fuel savings over typical competitors.

Kia Niro Hybrid Overview: This is a subcompact SUV and is priced under most of the hybrid competition. You can average nearly 50 mpg overall which is outstanding for a car this versatile. It has a slightly higher stance and comfortable seats, but the real star is the way six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission shifts.

2017 Niro – Red

Kia Optima Hybrid overview: The 2017 is new and appealing offering a calm driving experience, plenty of cargo room and 40 mpg average. Loaded with technology such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and safety features that include autonomous emergency braking. The ride is quiet and you get 13.4 cubic feet of storage with a lot of inside bins for personal items. Although the exterior is not as exciting as some competitors, it nevertheless looks sleek and should age well. You can also get an Optima plug-in.

2017 Optima Hybrid

Mom’s view: The Niro is fun, but get the EX model as it offers so much more with heated seats, blind spot monitoring and an abundance of other safety and convenience features. The less expensive FE is the mileage champ, but a warm bottom is well worth the extra for the upgraded model. You can get the more loaded Touring and Touring Launch as well, but their isn’t any all wheel drive option on any model. The back seats of the EX fold down giving you ample room for packages. The Optima hybrid allows you to select Eco or Sport mode outside of the standard setting. Eco takes the edge off driving and gives you superior mileage, but the cost is more relaxed acceleration. Sport brings the Optima on boil and is excellent for passing or lane merging.

2017 Optima Hybrid interior

Dad’s view: The Niro is a 1.6 liter four-cylinder gas-electric hybrid with 6-speed dual-clutch automatic drive train. It is fun to drive, but it isn’t going to set any speed records. The brakes on both vehicles take a while to get used to as they regenerate the batteries. This is good as it save on brake wear, but can be abrupt at times until a gentle touch is mastered. Steering is quite good and makes the Niro nimble and corners well. The electric motor works with the transmission and makes driving in heavy traffic easy. The Optima has an electric motor and 2.0-liter engine that combine to produce 192 hp. While most hybrids have a continuously variable transmission, but the Optima Hybrid sticks with a six-speed automatic transmission for a more traditional shifting feel.

Young working woman’s view: The Niro isn’t as comfortable to drive as the larger Optima with the latter being quieter as well. The Optima seats are fairly flat and so heavier drivers will find them a good fit. Entering and exiting both cars is easy, but the larger doors on the Optima make it a long reach to close at times. Both cars are good for those with mobility problems with just a little step over to get into a seat. The slopping roof of the Optima restricts rear vision, but the excellent rear view camera takes care of that problem. Interestingly, the vehicles are loaded with pockets for caring everything from large water bottles to small handwipes. As similar as these two Kia products are they appeal to a very different buyer. The Niro is handy and versatile. Perfect for the active family. The Optima is larger and more gentrified, perfect for those who like a quieter ride and more space. I like larger cars, but worry about mall parking lots. The special rear and skyward views on the monitor relieves that stress.

2017 Niro interior

Back to school male’s view: Working on my computer security certificate, but in the meantime the Kia’s offered some excellent technology, although the GPS was a bit slow. We had the Harman Kardon system, which was fine, and the optional wireless smartphone charging worked well. There is an adaptive cruise control and voice control, including Siri. My choice would be the handy Niro. Looks good, handy, and fuel frugal.
Family conference: The front-wheel-drive Optima hybrid has been restyled this year and improved in many areas and the Niro is all new. Kia’s warranty is special with a basic five year/60,000 coverage and roadside assistance and 10 years and 100,000 miles on the powertrain. Kia ranks highest among all automotive industry nameplates in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Initial Quality Study and this is the first time a non-luxury brand has led the industry. Others to consider are the Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan Rogue.