The 2019 Kia Optima Hybrid makes a strong play for high style and value though it faces increasingly more efficient and personalized competitors.
The hybrid powertrain used for the Optima Hybrid is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine that's been tuned for efficiency and a 38-kW electric motor, good for a combined 192 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. The 1.76-kwh lithium-ion polymer battery allows for short distances on electric-only power. It does come at a small cost of about 15 percent of available trunk space.
The power delivery is seamlessly integrated and even helps deliver smoother shifting from the standard electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission. Its fuel economy ratings come out to an EPA-estimated 39 miles per gallon city, 45 mpg highway, and 41 combined – behind two of its main competitors, the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Honda Accord Hybrid.
The 2019 Optima Hybrid is only available in EX trim for a starting price of $28,905 (including the $920 destination charge), which is over $5,000 more expensive than the standard Optima. It's visually identifiable by its unique front and rear bumpers, extended side skirts, and active grille shutters that Kia says help it achieve a slippery 0.24 coefficient of drag. Available in four colors (black and white are premium colors and cost $495), the exterior is equipped with LED daytime running lights, 16-inch wheels, power and heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, LED taillights, and satin chrome trim around the windows and sloping roofline. The exterior design does cut down on rear head room, causing a cramped space for three adults in back.
Leather seating is newly standard as are the 10-way driver and six-way passenger seat adjustments. The steering wheel and shift knob are also wrapped in leather. The standard seven-inch touchscreen infotainment display features satellite radio and Android Audio and Apple CarPlay compatibility, and it's integrated into the leatherette-wrapped dash panel. The driver also gets a 4.3-inch display in the gauge cluster, while the rear passengers are treated to HVAC vents, two USB ports, and a 12-volt outlet in the center console. The rear seat back has 60/40-split fold functionality as the battery is stored flat in the trunk.
On the safety front, the Kia Optima Hybrid comes with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera display with dynamic guidelines as standard.
The Optima Hybrid EX offers one option package: the $5,200 Technology Package. On the inside, it adds LED interior lighting, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, memory functionality for the driver's seat, a 10-way power passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, sound-absorbing front door windows, a panoramic sunroof, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system, and an eight-inch touchscreen with navigation. Exterior upgrades include 17-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights with auto-leveling. On the safety front, the package adds high beam assist, dynamic bending light, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, and an electronic parking brake with auto hold.
The 2019 Kia Optima Hybrid EX is nicely equipped, but we'd love to see the Technology Package broke up to have the option to add certain features for less money.
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