The fourth-generation Kia Optima Hybrid is now into its second year, delivering up to 46 miles per gallon highway by combining a 2.0-liter gas engine, a 50-horsepower electric motor and a 1.62-kilowatt-hour battery.
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2018 Kia Optima Hybrid Overview
What's new for 2018
Launched in late 2016, Kia has refreshed the Optima Hybrid sedan for 2018 with minor color and trim combination changes. It’s unchanged mechanically.
Choosing Your Kia Optima Hybrid
Every Optima Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter gas engine and a 50-horsepower electric motor.These two power sources collectively supply 192 hp and 271 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Optima Hybrid returns 39 mpg city and 46 mpg highway for 42 mpg combined, thanks in part to its hybrid battery pack hidden beneath the rear seats. This reduces the standard Optima’s 15.5-cubic-foot trunk by 2.5 cubic feet. Otherwise it’s business as usual, with a stylish exterior and a well-appointed cabin.
Every Optima Hybrid has a decent safety roster, including hill-start assistance plus various stability and traction systems. Bluetooth is standard across the range, with dual-zone climate control. The driver’s seat benefits from eight-way adjustment, though the passenger seat only has six-way adjustment.
Upgrading the Optima Premium with optional safety features like blind spot monitoring represents the best value for money in this formula, while the only reason for grabbing the EX trim – which isn't a great value on its own – is so you can spend another $5,000 for the active safety equipment. Unless you're willing to shell out nearly $37,000 for your Optima Hybrid, stick with the base model.
2018 Kia Optima Hybrid Review
The 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid stands tall among mid-size sedans as it delivers a smart blend of handsome looks, a big interior, and the fuel economy we expect from this type of model. The Optima Hybrid supplies a competent ride with optional advanced safety features available for a steep cost.
The 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid comes in Premium and EX trims and holds room for five. This front-wheel-drive model has a gas engine, an electric motor, and an automatic transmission. Kia equips the Optima Hybrid with stain-resistant cloth seats, automatic headlights, fog lights, alloy wheels, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, dual-zone climate control, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility, and a power driver’s seat.
- Model: 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid Premium
- Engine: 2.0-liter inline-four, electric motor
- Output: 192 hp / 271 lb-ft
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
- MPG: 39 City / 46 Hwy
- Options: Hybrid Convenience Package ($1,795, 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support and memory functionality, dual USB outlets, rear air conditioning vent, sound-absorbing front door windows, blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking assist), Snow White Pearl paint ($395)
- Base Price: $26,890 (including a $895 destination charge)
- Best Value Price: $29,080
Kia supplies a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine, an electric motor, and a six-speed automatic transmission. Base power from the engine alone is 154 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. Combined, the hybrid systems nets 192 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque.
You won't find sizzling performance with the Kia Optima Hybrid, but that's not the point of this sedan. Step-off acceleration is sufficient, and when you need more power, the engine and motor respond in kind. Power shifts between the engine and motor seamlessly, enabling the Optima Hybrid to reach its combined 42 miles per gallon EPA rating. Other models such as the Honda Accord Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid are even more efficient.
This sedan has light-to-the-touch steering and average handling. Its strongest point is its comfortable ride, thanks to revised bushings and softer damping than the previous model. Braking has also improved with much less sponginess felt than before.
Other than badging and the grille style, you won't find many differences between the standard Optima and the Optima Hybrid. The front fascia features the brand’s distinctive tiger nose grille for a sporty yet elegant look. Beautiful lines and creases adorn the body. It's easy to mistake this model for an expensive European sedan with its long, flowing layout.
Inside, the cabin is clean and open. Soft-touch materials and texturized plastics are used throughout. Knobs, buttons, and other controls dominate the center stack. The infotainment system doesn't seem as carefully conceived as much of the rest of the cabin. Overall, the look is formal, even inviting. Although not the most imaginative interior in its class, it meets or exceeds expectations for a mainstream mid-size sedan.
The trunk measures 13.4 cubic feet and that's considerably less than the 15.9 cubic feet in the standard sedan. The difference may be attributed to the battery pack, as it sits behind the rear seat and only partially underneath the floor.
The Best and Worst Things
The Kia Optima Hybrid doesn't have the odd styling of some hybrids. It looks very much like the standard model, except for a unique grille and badges. Rear seat leg room is quite good, but head room is restricted by the sloping roofline. Three can fit on the rear seat, but two is ideal.
Right For? Wrong For?
The 2018 Optima Hybrid should satisfy shoppers considering a mid-size sedan with its excellent fuel economy. It isn't the most efficient model in the segment, but with a combined 42 mpg, it's a strong competitor. On the other hand, the standard model is also efficient and it doesn't have the price premium of the hybrid. As gas prices climb, the hybrid’s appeal should rise with them, especially in markets with high fuel prices as it is.
The Bottom Line
The 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid gets it done without the style drama we've seen with some hybrids. The top-of-the-line EX model with the Technology Package pushes the final price close to $40,000, and we think that's far more than what most customers are willing to pay. Our sample build hits a sweet spot of combining hybrid amenities with some of the driver assist features customers want.