Kia Optima Hybrid
46 MPG Sound Good?
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – Gas prices are stable these days much to the delight of commuters and travelers. But, warns AAA, those prices are likely to move higher when the spring travel season nears and refiners have to move to a summer blend of petrol.
That may have consumers thinking about fuel economy again and there is always the matter of instability in the Middle East.
Enter Kia’s Optima Hybrid carrying an EPA economy rating of 39 city, 46 highway, for a combined 42 MPG all on unleaded regular. Outside, there are some styling touches to smooth the air flow around the body to improve the numbers.
How does it all work?
There are two power sources at work here. A 2.0 liter four delivers 154 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm with 140 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm. The electric motor kicks in additional boost to raise the overall System Performance to 192 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 271 lb-ft @ 1,770 rpm. A six speed automatic is the sole tranny.
For 99 percent of drivers who will scout out the Hybrid, the resulting acceleration will prove to be just right. No muss, no fuss integration on to the interstates, passing on mountain grades is sure bet, with a 0-60 in the low eight second range.
A lightweight, high-density lithium-polymer battery pack with a 13-percent increase in capacity to 1.62 kWh fits underneath the trunk floor without encroaching into cargo space. The revised battery configuration results in a larger, more practical load area and allows the integration of 60/40 split-folding rear seats. Truck capacity of 13.4 cubic feet tops the competition, slightly.
In the safety department you will find Autonomous Emergency Braking which, under appropriate conditions, will bring the vehicle to a complete stop to potentially avoid a collision or reduce damage. Also Blind Spot Detection, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning System and Front Collision Warning System.
Handling was on a par with the competition and the ride on now pot holed Maryland roads was excellent.
The Optima was what old New Englanders would say is a “Sunday go ‘a meetin’” car when it came to equipment.
A $2,500 “Hybrid EX Technology Package” brought forth LED headlights, a huge sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, the above mentioned safety gear and, to keep away pesky photographers, rear side window sunshades.
Also indoors was an upgraded AVN 4.0 Navigation system combined with a Harman/Kardon Quantum Logic Premium Surround Sound Audio System, which included 10 speakers, and a 630-watt digital amplifier. Excellent!
The system was friendly with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. A large 8” touch screen houses an easy to use navigation system and rear camera display.
All controls were an easy reach and equally easy to figure out. Kudos to Kia for that!
The hybrid features its own model specific instrument panel gauges and more soft touch materials throughout the cabin.
Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it five stars, its highest rating, in all crash tests.
Prices start at $25,995 for the base model with the EX beginning at $30,990. With the technology package, floor mats, and transportation, the bottom line came to $34,385.
Considering all the standard and optional equipment on the test car, its performance and excellent gas mileage, plus a long powertrain warranty, it was easy to give Kia’s gas sipper a strong recommendation.