Kia, the South Korean auto maker went to this year’s Chicago
Auto show with a full ‘basket’ of green cars. This is despite
the hybrid’s market downturn. The automaker aims to achieve its
initiative to improve fuel economy of its lineup of models by
25% by 2020.
In addition to the new 2017 Kia Niro,
the automaker showcased its new 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid and a
plug-in model to the Kia lineup. The models mark a new
direction for the Korean automaker which now has 8 different
models which have incorporated electricity in their
drive-trains. Read along to find out the excellent job Kia has
done with the new Optima hybrids;
2017 Kia Optima Hybrid Exterior
The 2017 Kia Optima hybrid body is nicely engineered and
features a combination of high-tensile strength steel which has
led to a stiffer and more durable chassis. The chassis consists
over 50% of Advanced High Strength Steel. Other enhancements
have helped improve its structural rigidity which provides
better driving dynamics and crash protection.
The model looks almost identical to the conventional Kia Optima
but adds some unique design cues which set it apart from its
gasoline-sipping sisters. The body has been wisely styled and
has enabled the automaker to achieve a 0.24 coefficient of drag
which is among the lowest in this segment.
Other features include active grille shutters which open and
close automatically at high and low speeds which helps improve
aerodynamics and optimize engine cooling. Other differences
from gasoline models include a beveled rear bumper, a rear
diffuser that improves aerodynamics by shrouding the exhaust
tip, a unique front air curtain and aerodynamic alloy wheels.
To complete the look is a satin accent trim, ‘EcoHybrid”
badging and modern LED lighting.
2017 Kia Optima Hybrid Interior
The ne model’s cabin is more spacious and very
functional. The cabin is neatly appointed with quality
touches. The vehicle features a unique instruments panel which
draws inspiration from Kia’s premium sedans. Soft-touch
materials are used all over the cabin. The cabin also features
real stitching on the dashboard and doors. The cabin is also
driver centered with a horizontal plane and a wider center
console. The number of functional keys and buttons has been
reduced for a more cleaner and uncluttered look.
The seats are very comfortable and they feature a stiffer frame
and utilize a high percentage of soft foam in the upper back
and headrests. More denser and supportive foam is used on
thigh-support areas. Heated, ventilated and power adjustable
front seats are also available. The front passenger seat has a
height-adjustable functionality which is a rarity mostly found
in premium vehicles.
For convenience cruising, the Optima hybrid features a wireless
a phone charger, hands-free trunk opener feature with smart key
and surround view monitoring which aids in parking.
Technology wise, the Kia Optima is up-to-date with modern
developments. It features UVO3, Smartphone-projected
navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, UVO telematics.
For entertainment the 2017 Kia Optima hybrid features the
Harman/Kardon QuantumLogic sound surround system. The sound
system features 10 speakers, a 630-watt digital amplifier and
Clari-Fi (a music restoration technology).
Designers paid a great deal of attention to its safety. It
features stability and traction control, upgraded airbags and
safety belts. Also the vehicle is offered with an array of
driving aids which include autonomous emergency braking,
blind-spot monitoring, smart cruise control, lane departure
warning and front collision warning system.
Engine Specs and performance
Kia has replaced the 2.4 L engine on the outgoing standard
Optima hybrid with a 2.0 L direct injected (GDI) 4-cylinder
engine which is capable of 154 hp. The engine is combined with
a hybrid-starter generator and a 6-speed automatic transmission
system. The 38 kW motor replaces the traditional torque
converter; it produces 51 hp. The combination produces 193 hp
at 6000 rpm. The engine is also fitted with electric oil and
water pumps which help improve its efficiency.
The battery pack is lighter and more compact compared to that
of the predecessor model. The lithium-polymer battery pack is
charged through regenerative braking as well as by the engines
excess power output. The 1.6 kWh battery presents a13%
improvement in capacity from the outgoing models. The new
battery pack also enables inclusion of a 60/40 split-folding
Moving over to the Optima plug-in, the model features the same
2.0 L 4-cylinder engine paired to a 6-speed automatic
transmission system. The engine is combined with a 50 kW motor.
Power is stored in a 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack.
The battery allows for a 27 miles range on electricity alone.
The model is estimated to have an electric-plus-petrol range of
Recharging takes less the 3 hours when using a 240-volt charger
and less than 9 hours with a 120-volt house-style plug. Output
figures for the plug-in were not given so make sure to check
later for updates.
Both the standard hybrid and the plug-in hybrid are offered
with three driving modes, they are; Charging Mode, All-electric
EV mode and Hybrid HEV mode. Charging mode increases generation
of energy during high speeds for later use in EV mode. All
electric EV mode blocks petrol during short drives in the city
while the HEV mode maximizes fuel economy and range on highway
Price and release date
The model will be produced in South Korea. According to
credible reports, Kia will avail the vehicle to dealer
showrooms starting this fall.
The automaker will announce its official prices closer to its
on-sale date. However, expect the model to start MSRP at around
$ 30,000 just like its cousin, the Sonata hybrid.