KIA "Fun and Forty" Challenge - Miami to Key West - Part 1

 [Disclaimer: I'm going to be posting about my trip to Miami and Key West in installments because there's just too much to tell, and because the awesome can't be contained in just one post. Also, please excuse the blurry photos that may or may not have been taken from the passenger side of a fast-moving car.]

Last week I had the pleasure of taking a trip to South Florida. The invitation came from Kia Motors.

"How would you like to drive a new Kia 2012 hybrid from Miami to Key West?" Umm...yes, please!

I had my bags packed before you could say, "pastelitos."

KIA fun & forty

A group of auto writers and bloggers, which included Blogs by Latinas, Latina Bloggers Connect, and Mejorando Mi Hogar were invited to drive both the Kia Optima Hybrid (Not your average mid-size sedan) and the Kia Rio (FUNctional) from Miami to Key West.

We stayed at the beautiful Shore Club in South Beach where we had a chance to unwind and relax a bit with a fabulous dinner at The Raleigh before our long driving day.

Rachel monique marta

With my blog-friends and traveling buddies, Rachel Matos and Monique Frausto, or as we came to be known to the rest of the group, "The Bloggeritas."

Kias at Parrot Key

We were paired up in teams of two in Miami and given instructions for the drive to Key West along with a trip legend.

Trip schedule

The directions took us through the scenic parts of Miami as we made our way down to US 1 and on to Key West.

Kia fun and forty drive

Key West south

The challenge was to get the maximum fuel economy on the trip to the Keys. We were encouraged to attempt to achieve 40 mpg by going slow, not using the air-conditioning - that sort of thing.

My driving buddy, Rachel Matos (aka: The Art Muse representing Latina Bloggers Connect) and I figured we could sooo do this. However, we quickly agreed that driving in South Florida without air-conditioning was a bit barbaric.

Rachel and marta

Photo credit: The beautiful and talented Monique Frausto of Blogs by Latinas.

The 2012 Kia Rio was our car of choice. (Yes, darling. Come to Mami.)

Kia rio

Photo credit: Monique Frausto of Blogs by Latinas.

Mostly because it was a sweet candy-apple RED. And we both decided we look fabulous in red.

Rachel & rio

Red Kia Rio

And it had a handy charger/ hook-up for my iPhone, which I had loaded up with my favorite salsa tunes for the drive. Thankyouverymuch.

Caimitillo y maranon

Driving Kia Optima

And when I wasn't driving, I was in charge of navigating, which may or may not have been a mistake because of my tendency to talk so much and because I'm so easily distracted.

Kia sign

Plus, there was a photo scavenger hunt to find certain landmarks on the drive down to the Keys which provided yet another pleasant distraction on this particular road trip.

Key largo sign

So we drove. And we talked. And we sang. And we laughed. A lot. And took photos. And shared the fun on Twitter. And the drive was so smooth and comfortable and fun that we kind of lost track of the goal.....

Look! There we are on the 7-Mile Bridge in that cute RED (!) Kia Rio.

Rachel and marta on 7 mile bridge copy

Photo credit: Dole Photo

With all the driving, and photo-taking, and talking, and salsa music, and laughing and all that, the drive to the Keys felt pretty effortless.

We eventually reached Key West with a just few minor detours. (In my own defense, navigating while doing all of the above proved to be a little challenging for an A.D.D. type such as myself. That is all.)

We arrived at the beautiful Parrot Key Boutique Resort where we found time to do some serious Key-West-type relaxing.

Kia rio at parrot key

Key west chair

Parrot Key Resort

Parrot Key resort pool

Okay, so maybe one of us (*wink, wink*) might have stayed in the pool just a little bit longer than they should have and missed the trolley to the restaurant (but that's not important right now). Rather than having to wait and take another trolley and be late for dinner at the famous A & B Lobster House Restaurant, our hosts were gracious enough to drive me in the beautiful Optima sedan. Thanks, guys!

A&B Lobster house

The winning team for the Fun and Forty Drive and Ride Challenge managed to get a whopping 48 mpg (!) in the Kia Optima. They did all the smart "hypermiling" stuff like going slow and driving without air and all that.

As a matter of fact, on the drive back from Key West to Miami, I got to enjoy driving the Kia Optima with my 2nd driving buddy, Camilo. We turned off the air and enjoyed the tropical breezes, and I managed to get pretty close to the 40 mpg mark.

KIA Optima mileage

While Camilo drove, I also played with all the bells and whistles. Hello, moon roof and cooled seats!

Sunroof in Kia Optima

So, I can say that the 40 mpg goal was totally achievable with some "hypermiling" skills, but Rachel and I were a little.....well....distracted. Because driving both the Rio and the Optima was So. Much. Fun.

And isn't that what you want in a driving experience? You want to be happy and relaxed and comfortable. And Kia really delivered on all those counts. Bonus coolness points to Kia for making these cars super affordable, too.

How did we do in relation to the other teams?

Well, Rachel and I managed to come in dead last. (With a respectable 33 mpg.)

Rachel and marta KIA

And for this we each received a memorable award. (Yes, that's a carved-coconut-pirate-head. Be jealous.)

Coconut pirate face

I'm so grateful to Kia Motors for the wonderful trip and the totally fun driving experience. But as much as I love to travel, I was happy to be back in my own world.

With my own driver.

In my own Kia. ;-)

Eric in kia

Thanks again, Kia Motors!

 {Disclosure: Kia Motors invited me to participate in this event and took care of my travel and accomodations. I was not compensated for this post. The opinion that the Kias were a blast to drive is my own.}