2017 Kia Optima Hybrid EX

The Optima is Kia’s midsize sedan. It’s available with a traditional gas-powered engine and also as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid. No matter what power train you choose, the Optima gives you a big bang for the buck and should be on your list to test drive if you’re looking for a midsize sedan.


The Optima was redesigned for the 2016 model year, and in 2017, the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models join the line-up. There’s an Optima for just about everyone. It’s available in eight trims: LX, LX Turbo, EX, SX, SX Limited, Hybrid, Hybrid EX and EX plug-in hybrid. Starting prices range from $22,500 to $35,210. All come with front-wheel-drive. Starting prices for the Hybrid are $26,890 for the Optima Hybrid Premium and $31,885 for the Kia Optima Hybrid EX. The plug-in hybrid is only available in the EX trim and starts at $36,105.


The Optima is attractive. It’s one of the more stylish midsize sedans out there. I got a lot of appreciate glances and people were often surprised to find out it was a Kia—many thought it was a Jaguar or Audi. And it sure doesn’t scream “Green Car” as some hybrids do.


The LX and EX models are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. The LX Turbo gets a turbocharged 1.6-liter four banger that makes 178 hp and 195 lb.ft. The SX and SX Limited get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four that makes 245 hp and 260 lb.-ft. A six-speed automatic transmission with manual mode is standard except on the LX Turbo which gets a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode.


The hybrid has a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine that makes 154 hp and 140 lb.-ft., combined with an electric motor and a 1.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that add 50 more hp. Total output is 192 hp and 271 lb.-ft. of torque.


The plug-in hybrid gets the same engine as the regular hybrid, plus a 67-hp AC motor that provides 151 lb-ft of torque and gets energy from a 9.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.


The regular hybrid drives much like a traditional car. There’s a slightly different feel to the brakes as you expect in a hybrid, but it’s not very noticeable. The ride is smooth ands quiet. You’ll barely notice rough roads or inclement weather. You won’t mistake it for a sport sedan but it has enough power for every day driving.


EPA mileage estimates for my tester are 39 mpg city and 46 mpg highway with a combined rating of 42 mpg. I got 41 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.


The interior is very upscale. Controls are sensibly laid out and you can use old-school buttons and knobs to adjust audio and climate settings. There’s a huge panoramic sunroof that gives the cabin an airy, open feel. Adults in both rows of seating will enjoy decent leg- and headroom.


The Optima Hybrid comes standard with a seven-inch touch screen display and Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Many driver assistance technologies are available including blind spot detection, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, advanced smart cruise control, rear cross traffic alert and rear parking assist.


The battery pack is under the trunk and doesn’t cut into the cargo space so the Optima Hybrid has 13.4 cubic feet of storage, enough for that weekend getaway, and the 60/40 split folding rear seats provide flexibility in hauling passengers and cargo.


The good:

Handles well

Good looking inside and out

Classy interior

Long list of standard features

Lots of available technology


The not-so-good:

Mileage isn’t as good as some competitors


Pricing info:

My tester starts at $30,990. Snow White Pearl paint is $395. The Hybrid EX Technology Package is $5,000 and includes Led headlights with dynamic bending light, panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, power front passenger’s seat with lumbar support, heated outboard rear seats, advanced smart cruise control, autonomous emergency braking system, blind spot detection, forward collision warning system, high beam assist,  lane departure warning system, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking assist system, auto-dimming rear view mirror, Led interior  lighting and rear side window sunshades. Delivery fee is $850 bringing the grand total to $37,235.


Bottom line:

The best known midsize sedans are the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. But don’t stop there—give the Optima a try, especially if you’re looking for a hybrid that drives and looks like a “regular” sedan and comes with a long list of standard and available features.