Tuesday, March 17 2015 18:55

Test Drive: Rockin' the Road with the Kia Optima Hybrid, the NBA... and a Derrick Rose Action Figure from Jazwares...

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KIA NBA LogoThe crew over at Kia is the Official Automotive Partner of the NBA, and it's the Kia Optima that wears the crown as "The Official Vehicle of the NBA." If you've seen the commercials with Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers, then you might already know that... or perhaps you've seen the ones with Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar LeBron James rockin' his car of choice, the K900 Luxury Sedan. Either way, Kia sponsors numerous initiatives within the NBA, along with partnering with over a dozen individual teams, one of which happens to be the Chicago Bulls.

Despite living in the Chicago-area for all but four years of my entire life, I had never attended a Bulls game, though I've visited the United Center on many other occasions, most of which involved Disney On Ice. However, I do recall sporting a championship t-shirt on occasion at some point after the start of their first "Three-peat" era back in 1991. So what does this have to do with Kia? Last month, while attending the 2015 Chicago Auto Show (#CAS15), I attended my first Bulls game as a guest of Kia, and in an unplanned bit of synergy, I'd just spent some time at home with their 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid, and had recently received an assortment of NBA Heroes Action Figures from my friends at Jazwares.

My Derrick Rose figure - still sealed, but with some genuine game swag...

One of those included was "Action Figure Derrick Rose" (I've made that his full name) - complete with additional accessories like a pair of rocket boots, a (Spartan?) helmet, and an arm-mounted basketball launcher. No, he did not come with crutches, a knee brace or a cast, but the whole NBA Heroes line is supposed to be set in an alternate universe where the players are Superheroes, so accuracy isn't quite what they were going for here. With all of these pieces coming together, I knew that Action Figure Derrick Rose was coming with me to the game.

Having just debuted the fantastic Kia Trail'ster Concept at #CAS15 (along with the return of the Track'ster - which I so want) the Kia team played host to a group of (perhaps) familiar faces from around the web as the Bulls took on the Cavs. While there was no appearance by LeBron for us (nor Rose), we did manage to catch up with a few members of the Chicago Luvabulls Dance Team - Candice, Jessica and Lindsay. And so did Action Figure Derrick Rose:

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

Now, the game was good (Bulls won), the company was great, and I got some cool shots and a fun cookie for my girls...

More Bulls fun...

...but I need to talk a little bit about the 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid.

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

The car switches from its electric motor to its 2.4-liter 4-cylinder MPI engine in response to how you're driving for a combined 38 mpg (EPA-estimated 36 city/40 highway). The mid-size sedan fits right into that perfect space between style, size and performance that I'm often talking about. I'm still not very used to driving hybrids, so there is a little bit of a "getting used to it" kind of curve at play here during the power switch, but the Optima performs wonderfully.

Kia Optima Hybrid

The Optima Hybrid is unmistakably "a Kia," and the look and feel falls in line with the now-complete redesign of the entire Kia fleet from top-to-bottom. The in-dash UVO system continues to impress (Kia's nav system also continues to be my wife's favorite of all the cars we test) with convenient, intuitive design and function that puts all the information you need in an easily-accessible form. The back seats are adequate, and fit the car seats comfortably, and the trunk space is a nice size that makes it perfect for those weekly grocery runs.

Kia Optima Hybrid

Overall, the 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid is a solid car that's fun to drive, great for families, and has a luxury feel that doesn't feel too far off from its higher-priced cousins like the Cadenza. With a starting MSRP of $25,990, more information can be found at Kia.com.

Shout out to Kia for hosting me at the game, and to Drive STI for handing the delivery of our Optima Hybrid for this feature.

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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