CHICAGO — The redesigned 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid made its world debut today at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show.
Visually, there are mild but noticeable differences between it and the redesigned Kia Optima midsize family sedan introduced last year as a 2016 model. These are almost entirely for aerodynamics: large active grille shutters, front and rear fascia alterations and special alloy wheels.
The new Optima Hybrid's interior is identical to the conventional Optima, apart from different gauges and hybrid-system displays in the central touchscreen.
There are even fewer differences mechanically between the Optima Hybrid and its corporate cousin, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. The Kia gets the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a 38kW electric motor and a six-speed automated manual transmission. Total output is estimated to be 193 horsepower.
Kia estimates a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy over the previous-generation Optima Hybrid, which would put it in the range of 41 mpg combined. That, perhaps not coincidentally, is exactly what the EPA says the Sonata Hybrid should achieve.
Besides fuel economy, a key improvement to the 2017 Optima Hybrid from its predecessor is its more power-rich lithium-ion polymer battery pack that now resides entirely underneath the trunk. Not only does this provide a more conventional trunk space, unencumbered by odd boxlike protrusions, it allows for a 60/40-split-folding rear seat. This gives both the Optima and Sonata Hybrid a significant advantage over other midsize hybrid sedans.
Also unveiled in Chicago was the 2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid, which similarly shares its gasoline-electric guts with a Hyundai Sonata cousin.
Look for the 2017 Optima Hybrid in dealerships later this year.
Edmunds says: Few surprises for the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid, but it should nevertheless offer compelling fuel economy, value and practicality.