The Optima hybrid only comes as a front-wheel drive vehicle, and features a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder hybrid engine, as well as a 6-speed automatic transmission (not a CVT).
Between the engine and the electric motor, you’ll get the equivalent of 192 horsepower out of the Optima hybrid. For reference, the 192 horsepower number on the Optima is ahead of the Fusion and Malibu hybrids, but less than what you’ll get in the Camry and Accord hybrids.
As far as the quality of the drive, the Optima hybrid moves along well on the road, and offers impressive handling and a generally enjoyable and quiet driving experience. But it’s not the best getting up to speed. That’s no surprise, as it's a hybrid, and almost none of them excel in this arena. But if you’re buying a hybrid, you’re probably not seeking a rocket, and this isn’t an Optima-only issue. It’s indicative of the overall segment.
For reference, you can drive the Optima hybrid in Eco, Normal or Sport modes. The vehicle measures how often you are in each, and that will influence fuel mileage.
During my drive time, I was 53 percent aggressive, 40 percent normal and 7 percent eco. My fuel mileage came out to 31 mpg.
Official numbers on the Optima hybrid are 39 mpg city, 46 highway and 42 combined. So I was way off with my result. Driving all Eco (or at least more Normal) would have greatly improved my numbers and pushed them closer to 40.
As a comparison, here are the mpg numbers for the 2017 Kia Optima hybrid and its key competitors:
-- Optima: 39 city/46 highway/42 combined
-- Malibu: 49 city/43 highway/46 combined
-- Camry: 42 city/38 highway/40 combined
-- Accord: 49 city/47 highway/48 combined
-- Fusion: 43 city/41 highway/42 combined
A quick look at these numbers means that in regard to fuel mileage (which is obviously a key focus of hybrid buyers), the Optima is mid-pack among midsize offerings -- beaten by the Malibu and Accord, but close to the Camry and Fusion.
This is perhaps the calling card of the Optima hybrid as it works to grow its market share, with a well-put together package all around in the technology and safety arenas.
At the center of it all, you get the UVO eServices infotainment system, which is designed to be very easy to figure out and use with minimal distraction. The Navigation system worked accurately, and voice commands were effective for controlling phone calls, navigation and music. The rear camera is standard, but Navigation is optional.
If you like your tunes to shine, a great option is the Harman Kardon QLS Premium Surround Sound system, which lives up to the hype that the Harman Kardon name brings.
All Optima models are compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which integrate your smartphone with the vehicle. Keyless entry and ignition, and Bluetooth connectivity, are also standard. You also get a free three-month subscription to satellite radio.
On the safety front, the Optima hybrid features nearly perfect crash test ratings. Among standard features are dual front airbags; Front seat side airbags; driver’s knee airbag; side curtain airbags; a LATCH system for child car seats; anti-lock brakes; a traction control system; electronic stability control; hill assist; and a tire pressure monitoring system
The optional Technology package includes features such as: LED headlights with dynamic bending light; Advanced Smart Cruise Control; Autonomous Emergency Braking System; Blind Spot Detection; Forward Collision Warning System; High Beam Assist; Lane Departure Warning System; Rear Cross Traffic Alert; Rear Parking Assist System and more -- all very effective and helpful options.
There are two trim levels on the 2017 Kia Optima hybrid: Premium and EX. While the Premium comes with plenty of standard features, going up to EX means more tech and comfort features are standard. One other benefit of the EX is the rear seat folds down, helping boost storage capacity.
The Optima hybrid starts about $26K, and goes up to about $35K, based on your options. With 2018 upon us, big discounts will likely be offered to clear the lots of 2017 models, which could push these prices down further. Overall, the Optima hybrid is one of the more affordable midsize hybrids on the market, and it comes with a 10-year/100K powertrain warranty and a 5-year/60K basic warranty and roadside assistance.
While it’s not the hybrid pack leader in terms of power or fuel mileage, the Optima hybrid makes up for that via its high-tech features, affordability and general good looks. It’s definitely worth testing out if you’ve decided to go the hybrid sedan route with your next vehicle purchase.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.