KIA also brought its 2017 Optima Hybrid to Chicago.
Its green parts are 10 percent more efficient than the outgoing model, gains made through replacing the previous generation’s 2.4-liter engine with a more compact 2.0-liter GDI generating 154 horsepower.
Like its sister car, the Sonata Hybrid, it uses a six-speed automatic transmission for a smoother drive. The 38 kW electric motor and clutch replaces the traditional torque converter to fill in the gaps when shifting, and they can also run the car in pure EV mode.
Combined output is a sporty 193 hp at 6,000 rpm and range is a handsome 965 kilometres.
Overall engine efficiency is also improved by the introduction of a High Voltage Electric Oil Pump, replacing the combination mechanical oil pump and low voltage electric pump found in the outgoing Optima Hybrid. Transmission cooling changes from natural air to water. These engineering enhancements yield an expected engine efficiency improvement of more than 20 percent.
The Optima PHEV is equipped with a single charging port conveniently located in the driver’s side front wing. A full charge can be achieved in less-than three hours via a 240V (Level 2) charger, and less-than nine hours via a 120V (Level 1) charger.
Kia’s advances in battery technology means the hybrid’s battery now stores 1.62 kWh of energy, a 13 percent despite being smaller and lighter which opens up more interior space.
Like the Niro, the Optima Hybrid features the automaker’s new Eco-DAS (Driver Assistance System) with Coasting Guide. It’s supposed to teach the driver when to coast and brake for maximum economy. Compared to the old model, the regenerative braking system now gathers 10 percent more electrons.
Several effective cosmetic changes have also been made. Compared to a regular 2016 Optima, the Hybrid has a different front bumper, an upper grille that’s been partially blocked and a big badge on the front fender. Around the back, there’s no diffuser and the exhaust system doesn’t show its tips.
All these features, combined with an active grille shutter combine to give the new Optima Hybrid an aerodynamic coefficient of just 0.24 Cd, the lowest in the midsize segment.
“Kia is pursuing a bold initiative to increase fuel efficiency by 25 percent across our entire model line-up by 2020, and new models like the Optima HEV and PHEV will be critical to realising that vision,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, KMA.
“The brand’s commitment to sustainability, coupled with our history of delivering premium amenities and value, has never been more evident than in these all-new hybrid vehicles, which are world-class examples of green engineering, advanced technology and design.”
The Optima Plug-in Hybrid, available in one trim, will be built at Hwasung, South Korea, and is expected to go on sale in the fourth quarter of this year. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.