Kia initiated a complete redesign of the Optima Hybrid for 2017, giving it new, albeit very lightly changed, body and a new powertrain that pushes fuel economy to a more competitive range. While these are all great changes, there are a few flaws in the new Optima that could drive buyers away.

Can the new Optima keep up with the growing hybrid midsize sedan class? Continue reading to find out.

Pricing and Equipment

The 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid comes in just a pair of trim levels, Premium and EX, which retail from $26,890 to $31,880 (including $895 destination fee), respectively. The base Premium trim is well equipped, so we're betting it represents the bulk of Optima Hybrids sold. Its standard equipment includes:

  • Six-speaker audio system with a seven-inch display
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Rearview camera
  • Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming
  • Power accessories with one-touch driver and passenger windows
  • Dual-zone auto climate control
  • Heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals
  • Automatic-opening trunk
  • Projector-beam headlights
  • LED taillights
  • Sixteen-inch alloy wheels

Buyers looking for additional features can opt for the Hybrid Convenience Package, which runs $1,795, and add a 12-way power adjustable driver’s seat with memory, blind-spot detection, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, sound-absorbing front side windows, and power-folding mirrors.

Under the Optima Hybrid’s hood is a single powertrain option: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor. Combined, this hybrid unit delivers 192 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. Unlike a lot of hybrids, Kia and its corporate big brother, Hyundai, use six-speed automatic transmissions for the Optima Hybrid and its fraternal twin, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. Both trims of the Optima Hybrid return 39 miles per gallon in the city, 46 mpg on the highway, and 42 combined.

Performance Pros

Kia Optima Hybrid
  • Fuel economy is solid, while the EPA's estimated numbers aren't too difficult to hit.
  • The six-speed automatic works really beautifully, effectively allowing the Optima Hybrid to coast on pure electric power.
  • Good ride quality for a non-luxury sedan.
  • Regenerative brakes are easy to modulate.

Performance Cons

  • Overall performance is lackluster.
  • Fuel economy falls far short of the Honda Accord Hybrid's fuel economy figures (49 mpg city and 47 mpg highway).

Interior Pros

  • Finely crafted cabin makes the Optima Hybrid feel more upscale.
  • Surprisingly quiet and comfortable.
  • Lots of desirable features, even in the base Premium trim.
  • Plenty of luggage space for a hybrid at 13.4 cubic feet.

Interior Cons

Kia Optima Hybrid
  • Rear-seat head room is a little tight at just 37.8 inches.
  • Interior design is just an evolution from the previous generation.
  • Rear-seat leg room is a little cramped for a midsize at 35.6 inches.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The Optima’s construction, features, and build quality give it a more premium look and feel than its price tag might indicate. What’s more, its array options make it more desirable. Moving upscale has been one of Kia’s focuses, and the Optima delivers the goods.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

While the 2017 Optima is all-new, the visual updates are only an evolution of the previous generation. Sure, the previous Optima was attractive, but it would have been nice to see Kia take a little more of a risk with the new generation.

The Bottom Line

The Optima Hybrid is a great option in the growing hybrid midsize sedan market, thanks to its comfortable ride, better-than-expected quality and features, and impressively roomy trunk. But while this new model is attractive, it has too much in common with a design whose roots are from 2010. That makes the Optima Hybrid a hard sell for image-conscious consumers that want the latest and greatest.