2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid Sedan Review

The 2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid is a smart choice for anyone seeking to minimize reliance on gasoline.
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor
Along with the introduction of a redesigned Optima Hybrid model, Kia adds plug-in recharging to its family sedan lineup with the 2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid. The regular Optima Hybrid offers high fuel economy, comfortable road manners, and a wealth of standard features and available options. The Plug-In adds to that with the ability to drive short distances on pure electric power. The main difference between the two is the Optima Plug-In Hybrid's bigger battery pack and more powerful electric motor. The battery is larger than the standard hybrid's and can be recharged from a standard household electrical outlet or a high-current charging station. Doing so gives the plug-in model the ability to travel up to 29 miles in all-electric mode. After you've used up that power, the Plug-In switches to regular hybrid operation. The EPA estimates fuel economy of 40 mpg combined (38 city/43 highway). That's a bit below average but still likely good enough for shoppers looking to minimize their reliance on gasoline. In addition to its powertrain appeal, the Optima Plug-In Hybrid includes everything we've come to like about the standard Optima sedan, including a roomy interior, a comfortable ride, and robust infotainment and connected technology. We're still not sold on the Optima's bland interior or the mediocre feel of its materials, however — unfortunate concessions to the Optima's otherwise exceptional value proposition. Still, the Optima Plug-In Hybrid's blend of rechargeable propulsion and midsize appeal makes it a solid pick for a family or commuter sedan.

what's new

The 2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid is an all-new model based on the redesigned Optima Hybrid.

we recommend

The 2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid comes in just one flavor: an EX trim level with an optional Technology package. Kia loads the EX with a raft of daily comfort and conveniences, including leather upholstery, heated front seats, navigation, Bluetooth, Apple and Android smartphone control, and a premium sound system. It's hard to go wrong with the standard sedan. The Technology package is pricey, but it adds a sunroof, ventilated front and heated rear seats, adaptive headlights and several collision avoidance features. It's a good choice if you crave additional peace of mind and open-air motoring.

trim levels & features

The 2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid is a five-passenger sedan available in a single EX trim level with an optional Technology package that adds extra comfort features and several collision avoidance technologies. Standard features start with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and an electric drive motor that combine to produce 202 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are also standard.

Outside, you'll find 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, heated side mirrors, keyless entry and a hands-free trunk opening. Inside the Plug-In comes with push-button ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power driver seat, a navigation system, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connections, Kia Uvo services, and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with satellite radio.

The optional Technology package adds adaptive LED headlights, automatic high beams, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a power passenger seat and a host of collision avoidance technologies, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and rear parking sensors.

trim tested

Edmunds has not yet driven any version of the 2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid, but we have considerable experience with the regular Optima. Those findings, specifically on comfort and interior quality, remain broadly applicable to this model. We've also sampled the Optima's mechanical doppelganger, the Hyundai Sonata Plug-In. Otherwise, the following is our first take on what's significant about it and what you can expect.


We haven't yet driven the Optima Plug-In Hybrid, but the Hyundai Sonata Plug-In accelerates to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds, average for a hybrid sedan. Expect a similar time here. We prefer the six-speed automatic transmission's shift feel over the CVTs that are more common to hybrids.


Both the regular Optima sedan and Sonata Plug-In Hybrid deliver a smooth ride on all manner 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 rears) 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 Plug-In Hybrid's ride quality should not be that different despite the different powertrain.


The Optima's interior, regardless of model or trim, isn't an especially exciting visual feast. That said, it serves function 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

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


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.


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 the blind spot.


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.


The Optima Plug-In Hybrid's trunk is smaller than the regular hybrid's trunk due to a larger battery pack. At just 9.9 cubic feet of cargo room, it's a bit limited. The Toyota Prius Prime's hatchback design, for example, offers far more versatility.


The 8-inch touchscreen has crisp graphics and an intuitive menu structure, although some drivers might find it a bit of a stretch to reach comfortably. A unique gauge cluster displaying various hybrid functions is one of the few indicators that you're driving a gas-electric car.

audio & navigation

A navigation system comes standard, as does a premium Harman Kardon sound system.

smartphone integration

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included with the infotainment system's offerings.

driver aids

Most of the latest driver safety and collision avoidance aids come with the optional Technology package. A rearview camera is standard, however.

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.