Kia, the South Korean auto maker went to this year’s Chicago Auto show with a full ‘basket’ of green cars. This is despite the hybrid’s market downturn. The automaker aims to achieve its initiative to improve fuel economy of its lineup of models by 25% by 2020.
In addition to the new 2017 Kia Niro, the automaker showcased its new 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid and a plug-in model to the Kia lineup. The models mark a new direction for the Korean automaker which now has 8 different models which have incorporated electricity in their drive-trains. Read along to find out the excellent job Kia has done with the new Optima hybrids;
2017 Kia Optima Hybrid Exterior
The 2017 Kia Optima hybrid body is nicely engineered and features a combination of high-tensile strength steel which has led to a stiffer and more durable chassis. The chassis consists over 50% of Advanced High Strength Steel. Other enhancements have helped improve its structural rigidity which provides better driving dynamics and crash protection.
The model looks almost identical to the conventional Kia Optima but adds some unique design cues which set it apart from its gasoline-sipping sisters. The body has been wisely styled and has enabled the automaker to achieve a 0.24 coefficient of drag which is among the lowest in this segment.
Other features include active grille shutters which open and close automatically at high and low speeds which helps improve aerodynamics and optimize engine cooling. Other differences from gasoline models include a beveled rear bumper, a rear diffuser that improves aerodynamics by shrouding the exhaust tip, a unique front air curtain and aerodynamic alloy wheels. To complete the look is a satin accent trim, ‘EcoHybrid” badging and modern LED lighting.
2017 Kia Optima Hybrid Interior
The ne model’s cabin is more spacious and very functional. The cabin is neatly appointed with quality touches. The vehicle features a unique instruments panel which draws inspiration from Kia’s premium sedans. Soft-touch materials are used all over the cabin. The cabin also features real stitching on the dashboard and doors. The cabin is also driver centered with a horizontal plane and a wider center console. The number of functional keys and buttons has been reduced for a more cleaner and uncluttered look.
The seats are very comfortable and they feature a stiffer frame and utilize a high percentage of soft foam in the upper back and headrests. More denser and supportive foam is used on thigh-support areas. Heated, ventilated and power adjustable front seats are also available. The front passenger seat has a height-adjustable functionality which is a rarity mostly found in premium vehicles.
For convenience cruising, the Optima hybrid features a wireless a phone charger, hands-free trunk opener feature with smart key and surround view monitoring which aids in parking.
Technology wise, the Kia Optima is up-to-date with modern developments. It features UVO3, Smartphone-projected navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, UVO telematics.
For entertainment the 2017 Kia Optima hybrid features the Harman/Kardon QuantumLogic sound surround system. The sound system features 10 speakers, a 630-watt digital amplifier and Clari-Fi (a music restoration technology).
Designers paid a great deal of attention to its safety. It features stability and traction control, upgraded airbags and safety belts. Also the vehicle is offered with an array of driving aids which include autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, smart cruise control, lane departure warning and front collision warning system.
Engine Specs and performance
Kia has replaced the 2.4 L engine on the outgoing standard Optima hybrid with a 2.0 L direct injected (GDI) 4-cylinder engine which is capable of 154 hp. The engine is combined with a hybrid-starter generator and a 6-speed automatic transmission system. The 38 kW motor replaces the traditional torque converter; it produces 51 hp. The combination produces 193 hp at 6000 rpm. The engine is also fitted with electric oil and water pumps which help improve its efficiency.
The battery pack is lighter and more compact compared to that of the predecessor model. The lithium-polymer battery pack is charged through regenerative braking as well as by the engines excess power output. The 1.6 kWh battery presents a13% improvement in capacity from the outgoing models. The new battery pack also enables inclusion of a 60/40 split-folding rear seat.
Moving over to the Optima plug-in, the model features the same 2.0 L 4-cylinder engine paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission system. The engine is combined with a 50 kW motor. Power is stored in a 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. The battery allows for a 27 miles range on electricity alone. The model is estimated to have an electric-plus-petrol range of 600 miles.
Recharging takes less the 3 hours when using a 240-volt charger and less than 9 hours with a 120-volt house-style plug. Output figures for the plug-in were not given so make sure to check later for updates.
Both the standard hybrid and the plug-in hybrid are offered with three driving modes, they are; Charging Mode, All-electric EV mode and Hybrid HEV mode. Charging mode increases generation of energy during high speeds for later use in EV mode. All electric EV mode blocks petrol during short drives in the city while the HEV mode maximizes fuel economy and range on highway drives.
Price and release date
The model will be produced in South Korea. According to credible reports, Kia will avail the vehicle to dealer showrooms starting this fall.
The automaker will announce its official prices closer to its on-sale date. However, expect the model to start MSRP at around $ 30,000 just like its cousin, the Sonata hybrid.