Kia hopes to continue the success of the 2011 Optima sedan with a fuel-sipping hybrid model, which hits American dealerships this June. When it goes on sale, the Optima hybrid will be priced at $27,250, including a $750 destination charge. That’s marginally higher than the Optima’s mechanical twin, the $26,545 Hyundai Sonata hybrid, and $560 more than the range-topping Optima SX.
Like the Sonata, the Optima hybrid employs a modified 2.4-liter inline-four engine producing 166 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque. It’s complemented by a 40-hp electric motor that draws power from and recharges a 30 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Kia says the car can drive at up to 62 mph on electrical power alone; at other times, the motor and gasoline engine can work together for a combined output of 206 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque.
The Optima hybrid is EPA-rated at 35/40 mpg city/highway, up from the 24/35 mpg ratings of a non-hybrid Optima equipped with a manual transmission.
The hybrid car’s equipment list is generous, with a power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel all bundled as standard. The car scores hybrid-exclusive 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, LED taillights, and new designs for the front and rear fascias, setting it apart visually from its non-hybrid brethren. It also features UVO, Kia’s Microsoft-powered infotainment system that allows drivers to control phones and music players via voice commands.
Adding a $5000 Hybrid Premium Technology package -- bringing the sticker to $32,250 -- adds 17-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, HID headlights, a navigation system with a backup camera, and an eight-speaker Infinity audio system. The navigation and audio units replace UVO on this trim.