2018 Kia Optima Hybrid

2018 Kia Optima Hybrid Review

The 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid is stylish, efficient and feature-rich.
author
by Will Kaufman
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

We like the Kia Optima sedan for offering lots of features for the money, along with a well-designed interior and a quiet ride. Adding a hybrid powertrain that's both more powerful and significantly more fuel-efficient than the standard gasoline engine seems like a no-brainer.

The biggest trade-off for the hybrid powertrain is the loss of some cargo space, which drops by 2.5 cubic feet. The available 60/40-split folding rear seats do mean that extra space is available. The Optima Hybrid is also limited to higher trim levels, so if you're looking for a basic hybrid, this might not be the car for you.

The Optima Hybrid certainly makes a case for itself in the segment, too. While we like the driving experience of the Ford Fusion Hybrid, it's an older model than the Optima and in need of a refresh. The new Toyota Camry Hybrid is very efficient but offers fewer features and a less usable infotainment interface. The biggest wild card might be the Honda Accord Hybrid, due out later this year: It's based on our current favorite midsize sedan, and it loses no cargo space in the electrification process.



What's new for 2018

For 2018 the Optima Hybrid carries over with only minor changes to color options and trim-level content.

We recommend

We think the EX is worth the extra money. It includes the Premium trim's optional features, such as blind-spot monitoring and acoustic-insulated front windows, and adds both useful features and luxuries. For starters, you get 60/40-split folding rear seats, leather upholstery, heated front seats, LED daytime running lights, and an upgraded infotainment system and stereo. The EX also has access to more optional active safety features and driver aids.




Trim levels & features

The front-wheel-drive 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid is well-equipped no matter which version you choose. The entry-level Premium comes with dual-zone climate control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and keyless entry and ignition. The Premium's Convenience package offers a good value for the extra features you get, while the EX takes that and adds goodies such as leather upholstery and a kicking Harman Kardon sound system. An electric motor and a 2.0-liter engine combine to produce 192 hp. Most hybrids have a continuously variable automatic transmission, but the Optima Hybrid sticks with a six-speed automatic transmission that gives a more traditional shifting feel.

The Premium trim comes with many standard features, including 16-inch wheels, heated mirrors, a rearview camera, keyless entry and ignition, a driver information display, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, a 7-inch touchscreen, and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio.

The available Convenience package adds power-folding mirrors, laminated front windows to help noise reduction, a power driver seat with memory settings, rear air vents, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors and extra USB ports.

The EX has the Convenience package as standard (minus the parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring) and adds 17-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, leather upholstery, 60/40-split folding rear seats, an 8-inch touchscreen, navigation, and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with HD radio.

You can't get a more luxurious Optima Hybrid than the EX equipped with the Technology package, which adds LED adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam control, a panoramic sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, adaptive cruise control, a power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, rear side-window sunshades, lane departure warning, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear parking sensors.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. Though we have not fully tested the new Optima Hybrid yet, we can glean some insight by relating our opinions from our full test of the 2016 Kia Optima LX Turbo (turbo 1.6L flat-4 | 7-speed dual-clutch automatic | FWD). The two cars have different engines, but many of our other opinions still apply to the hybrid.

Driving

Though we haven't driven the 2018 Optima Hybrid yet, we have tested the mechanically related Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. We expect the Optima will pull away smoothly from a stop thanks to initial electric-only power. Outright performance and handling, however, are likely to be a bit disappointing.

Comfort

The regular Optima sedan delivers a smooth ride on all kinds of pavement, and the cabin is quiet at highway speeds. We're not as thrilled with the seats, though.

Seat comfort

Heated front seats are standard; ventilated seats and heated rear seats are options. The front seats are roomy but lack lateral side bolstering. The rear seats are also spacious, but the low-mounted cushion may lack support for average-size adults.

Ride comfort

The regular Optima sedan absorbs small, high-frequency bumps pretty well for an overall smooth ride. Larger undulations cause some jostling, but not significantly more compared to rivals in this class. The Hybrid's ride quality should not be that different despite the different powertrain.

Interior

The Optima's interior, regardless of model or trim, isn't especially exciting visually. That said, it serves its functions well. The feature set makes you feel as if you're getting a lot more for your money, although the quality of materials feels a bit mediocre.

Ease of use

We give the Optima high marks for its easy-to-use infotainment system and readable physical buttons that are logically placed. The primary controls are all within reach, and there's no guesswork with buttons that are a bit out of the way.

Getting in/getting out

The tall door openings free from obstructions allow passengers to access their seats with little difficulty. The doors are adequately short in length to provide access in tight parking spots.

Roominess

The front seats have plenty of space for larger passengers, and the range of adjustments will cover short and tall occupants. The rear outboard seats benefit from an abundance of legroom, but headroom is only adequate for adults of average height.

Visibility

The Optima's cabin feels big and airy thanks to large windows and narrow roof pillars, but the high rear decklid and rear-seat headrests obscure the rearward view. The standard rearview camera and optional parking sensors help reduce blind spots.

Quality

Plenty of plastic is used throughout the interior, but it's sturdy and the texture is visually appealing. The car feels as solid as any other sedan in the class.

Utility

With 13.4 cubic feet of storage, trunk space is slightly above the class average for a midsize hybrid sedan. It gains extra points for the 60/40-split rear seats in the EX model, though the opening is on the small side. Inside, there's plenty of space for personal items in the many bins and pockets.

Technology

Kudos to Kia for an easy-to-use infotainment system with high-quality graphics and plenty of redundant physical buttons so you don't get lost in menus. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are appreciated.

Audio & navigation

Like Kia itself, the touchscreen interface prefers function to form. There's nothing flashy; it's just easy to use and competent. The navigation system is fine, but we wish it tried to predict street and city names in the input screens.

Driver aids

Most of the latest driver safety aids, such as lane departure warning and forward collision warning, are optional on the Optima. A rearview camera is standard.

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.