I've never been a believer that everything happens for a reason, but in the case of my wife's most recent vehicle purchase, this turned out to be absolutely the case. You see, a few weeks back, my wife and I made the decision to sell her older Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Emily's beloved Mercedes had accumulated a lot of miles, and it was starting to cost more to own than we'd like.

Now, when Emily told me she was thinking about getting rid of her car, I met her with mixed feelings. Car shopping isn't something I look forward to or enjoy. Don't get me wrong: I love cars, and I really love the industry, but shopping for them is nowhere on my fun list.

Okay, so we decided to sell her car. Obviously, my love of cars and the fact that I work at AutoTrader.com made the research fairly simple. The only problem was, this wasn't going to be my car. Emily had to love this car, and she had to be the one to lead the charge. Here's where I inject that I'm a very lucky guy, because Emily doesn't just buy things for no reason. She loves to research, explore her options and make an educated purchase. It's great, but it also means that I had some serious dealership time ahead of me.

After three weeks of research, we narrowed the choices down to a short list of her top four contenders and set out on our mission to find Emily's next car. The four choices were the Honda Accord, the Toyota Camry, the Ford Fusion and the the Hyundai Sonata. She told me her choices were based on the considerations of styling, safety, fuel economy and standard features. Knowing a fair amount about all of these great vehicles, I was okay about having any of the four parked in my garage for years to come. The test drives came and went, and initially the clear winner was a very nice Hyundai Sonata from a dealership a few miles from our house.

Here's where a little bit of fate and superstition kick in. I mentioned that I work for AutoTrader.com, where we occasionally get long-term editorial vehicles to review. It just so happened that on a random Friday afternoon, I was asked if I wanted to take the new Kia Optima Hybrid home for the weekend to evaluate. The car had showed up in the company garage just hours before this conversation took place, so I didn't even know we had one. I had seen the new Optima, thought it was a nice car, and know a fair amount about them-but not enough to form a personal opinion. Knowing that a new car would be fun for the weekend, I took the editors up on their offer.

I called Emily as always at the end of the work day to see what she wanted to do for the evening, and I was met with a flustered voice on the other end of the line. Her car had just broken down, and she was waiting for a tow truck to arrive. The problem turned out to be a fuel pump, which is pretty typical for a vehicle that age, but it didn't matter to her. She was over it. I told her that we were in luck: we had a 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid to drive for the weekend.

During our time with the Kia, Emily and I were shocked to find a vehicle that was loaded beyond anything we'd owned for quite some time. We were met with a huge panoramic sunroof, heated and cooled seats, and some very nice options you wouldn't typically think of when you think Kia. At least, I didn't think of a car like this when I thought about Kia. We had a very busy weekend planned, and the Kia kept up with us extremely well.

I think our Kia moment came when we and two friends were headed to a birthday party that Sunday afternoon. We were driving along, talking about how much we loved the car and enjoyed driving it, and commenting on how well built it was ,when my friend asked me, "So when do you want to go pick up your new Kia?" We chuckled, but only for a moment.

The following week, we brought the Optima Hybrid back, but Kia was now in our sights. Within three days of driving the new Optima, we'd both said goodbye to the other vehicles we were considering and said hello to our very own Kia Optima.

Now, if you told me five years ago I'd be buying a Kia Optima for my wife, I would have laughed and called you funny names. We're now some of the largest Kia brand advocates you'll ever meet, and it's all because we spent a weekend with a car we weren't even considering.

author photo

Ryan Dickerson is an automotive enthusiast who manages social products for AutoTrader.com and has owned 30 cars and a dozen motorcycles. He spends a lot of time racing motorcycles across the Southeast and winds down by relaxing at the lake and traveling.

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