Used 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid Review
Edmunds expert review
The 2016 Optima Hybrid doesn't offer the eye-popping fuel economy of its primary rivals, but it's still a stylish, refined hybrid sedan that may be worth considering.
What's new for 2016
Kia's stylish and value-packed Optima has been a popular midsize sedan for several years now, and the 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid offers the same strengths with an emphasis on fuel efficiency. It's important to note, though, that while the rest of the 2016 Optima lineup has moved on with a full redesign, the hybrid is still based on the previous-generation car. On the bright side, the Optima Hybrid easily wins the fuel economy contest in this family, even with its older roots. That's not enough to earn the car our unequivocal recommendation, but we still think it's a nice all-around sedan that could be tempting at the right price.
The 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid may not be the newest entrant in this segment, but its styling is plenty fresh.
With an EPA combined estimate of 37 or 38 mpg depending on trim level, this Kia looks great until you compare it to its main rivals, which are significantly more fuel-efficient. The Optima also lags a little in terms of refinement, as its regenerative braking system doesn't feel as natural or progressive as some others. Furthermore, taller passengers may find rear-seat headroom a bit tight. The Optima Hybrid compensates, though, with an upscale cabin, excellent crash-test scores and Kia's usual focus on value for the dollar.
If you're shopping for a midsize hybrid sedan, know that the Toyota Camry Hybrid achieves 40-41 mpg and offers overhauled styling inside and out along with improved handling. The similarly efficient Ford Fusion Hybrid has style on its side, although like the Kia, it hasn't been updated in several years. The 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid delivers 42 mpg (matching the Ford) and, as a close cousin, also provides a good look at what the next-generation Optima Hybrid will offer. But don't write off the
Trim levels & features
The 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid is a midsize hybrid sedan that comes in two trim levels: base and EX.
The base Optima Hybrid comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, automatic dual-zone climate control, a refrigerated glovebox, a height-adjustable driver seat with power lumbar, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port.
The optional Hybrid Convenience package adds LED running lights, a laminated windshield and front windows (for a quieter cabin), an eight-way power driver seat, a rearview camera and Kia's Uvo voice command telematics system.
With the EX, all the above comes standard, as well as 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED foglights, power-folding exterior mirrors, an electronic parking brake, an 8-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, a four-way power passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, driver memory settings and an eight-speaker Infinity sound system.
The 2016 Optima Hybrid's control layout is distinctly driver-oriented, with a cockpit-like look and feel.
Optional on the EX is the Technology package, which adds a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. Also available on the EX is the White Interior package (not available with some exterior colors), which requires the Technology package and adds white leather upholstery with contrasting piping and gloss black cabin accents.
Performance & mpg
Powering the 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with an electric motor and a six-speed automatic transmission. Combined power output is 199 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque.
EPA fuel economy estimates differ slightly between the two trim levels, with the base earning a combined estimate of 38 mpg (36 city/40 highway) and the EX rating 37 mpg combined (35/39). Although those numbers are generally impressive, the Optima Hybrid's rivals are even more frugal.
In Edmunds performance testing, a Kia Optima Hybrid went from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds, which is a bit below average for the segment.
Standard safety features on the 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is available, as are rear parking sensors and a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert. The available Uvo telematics system includes roadside assistance and automatic collision notification.
In Edmunds brake testing, an Optima Hybrid EX came to a stop from 60 mph in 129 feet, a few feet longer than average but still acceptable for this class.
In government crash tests, the 2016 Optima Hybrid earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with five stars awarded for both total frontal-impact safety and total side-impact safety.
The 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid rides smoothly on a variety of surfaces, and its cabin remains admirably hushed at highway speeds. The car's steering is less praiseworthy, though, thanks to a numb feel and artificially high effort. Nonetheless, the driving experience is pleasant overall, with a good balance between handling agility and ride comfort.
Most drivers will likely be satisfied with the Optima Hybrid's performance. You'll scarcely notice the transitions between gas and electric propulsion in traffic, and there's more power for passing maneuvers than the mediocre 0-60-mph sprint suggests. The only real issue on the road is the odd braking response, which stems from the car's hybrid regenerative braking system. There's a tiny but noticeable delay between pressing the brake pedal and actually getting the desired braking force. Make no mistake, the 2016 Optima Hybrid provides sufficient braking power when you need it, but its pedal feel is a peculiarity that may require acclimation.
First impressions of the 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid's interior are usually favorable. Although some might find it visually busy, there's a modern look to the design, and the sense of quality is boosted by an abundance of soft-touch materials. The EX trim level pours on the charm with its additional equipment and leather upholstery. If you're looking for a touch of luxury in your hybrid sedan, the Optima Hybrid is a good choice.
Kia's Uvo (pronounced "yoo-voh") electronics interface system is similar to Ford's Sync system (both are powered by Microsoft). Uvo provides voice controls for connected phones and other devices, as well as services such as points of interest and turn-by-turn navigation. In our testing of Uvo, we've found that it works quite well. The touchscreen interface in navigation-equipped Optima Hybrids features high-resolution graphics that are among the segment's best, and it's easy to use, too. The screen also displays hybrid-specific information such as power flow diagrams and driving efficiency levels.
The 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid's touchscreen display provides useful hybrid driving information.
The 2016 Optima Hybrid has a fairly spacious cabin, with comfortable seats and adequate legroom front and rear. However, headroom in back is a bit tight due to the car's rakish, coupelike roof line. Opting for the panoramic sunroof further decreases headroom. The Optima Hybrid's trunk offers 10.8 cubic feet of cargo space, considerably less than the non-hybrid Optima due to intrusion from the hybrid battery pack, and 1-2 cubes less than the competition.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.