Kia’s midsize Optima has earned a growing number of kudos for its European-style good looks, as well as its value compared to other family sedans. The Optima Hybrid ties those laudable virtues to a gasoline/electric powertrain, resulting in some of the best fuel economy figures for a car of this size.
What's new for 2017
When Kia redesigned its regular gasoline-engine Optima for 2016, the Hybrid edition carried over from the previous generation. Now, the Hybrid has been re-engineered to keep pace with the gas-engine model. Seeking to improve efficiency by 10 percent, Kia has installed a new 2-liter gasoline engine to work with the hybrid powertrain.
Choosing Your Kia Optima Hybrid
Each Optima Hybrid comes with the same new powertrain. A 2-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, rated at 154 horsepower, works with a 38-kW, 50-horsepower electric motor and a 1.62 kWh lithium-polymer battery. Combined output is 192 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, along with 271 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid powertrain mates with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel economy is now estimated by the EPA at 39 mpg in city driving and 46 mpg on the highway, or 42 mpg combined. That compares to 36/40 mpg (city/highway) for the prior powertrain.
Several unique exterior elements enhance the Hybrid’s aerodynamics, as well as its appearance. The body’s coefficient of drag is a low 0.24. An active grille opens and closes automatically at high and low speeds. A rear diffuser streamlines airflow, and the back bumper is beveled. Low-rolling-resistance tires ride on 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels.
A “virtual engine sound” system is standard, and the Drive Mode selector offers Normal, Sport, and Eco modes. A new Driver Assistance System features a Coasting Guide, which tells the driver when to coast and brake for maximum fuel economy.
Buyers choose from two trim levels, Base and EX, with significantly different equipment levels:
If fuel economy is your foremost goal, you may as well stick with the base model. The EX offers some pleasant and noteworthy features, including additional safety technology, but isn't the best value given its price. Note that contents of the optional Technology package have changed this year, more than doubling its price.