Say hello to the 2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid which aims to take on the Ford Fusion Energi and the Chevrolet Volt. Kia introduced the new plug-in, along with the Kia Optima Hybrid, this week at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show.
The new green offerings are part of Kia’s larger plan to increase fuel efficiency by 25 percent across its entire lineup by 2020.
The new 2017 Optima Plug-In, and its hybrid sister, can go 27-miles on electricity alone. The PHEV has a 600-mile gas and electric range. Both share the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine. The plug-in’s engine is paired with a 50-kilowatt electric motor for 154 horses. The hybrid pairs the same engine with a 38-kilowatt electric motor for a bump to 193 horses. The old engine was a 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Kia says the new one should use 10 percent less fuel.
Charging the battery back for the plug-in takes from between three to nine hours, depending of course on how much power you can tap into. It’s just under nine hours on a normal 120v household AC, but less than three hours on a 240V (level 2).
The PHEV’s battery is under and just behind the back seat, nixing a little bit of cargo space. The hybrid model’s battery pack is stowed in the back, where a spare tire would normally be.
In the looks department, some tweaks but no big changes for the Optima, which was Kia’s most popular U.S. model last year. (It sold more than 159,000 of them ranking it eighth among midsize sedans. ) They get new active grille shutters along with some aerodynamic improvements to help with fuel efficiency. Kia says the changes help achieve the segment’s lowest coefficient of drag, tied with the Tesla Model S at 0.24 Cd.
The PHEV also features Kia’s all-new Eco-DAS Driver Assistance System with a new feature called Coasting Guide. It basically coaches the drivers on when to coast and brake in order to maximize fuel economy. An icon in the instrument panel blinks and sounds a one-time audible alert to alert the driver to make coasting changes. Like the HEV, it also offers a ton of safety features that we’re all getting used to now: Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, and Front Collision Warning System.
The Optima Plug-In Hybrid, available in an EX trim, will be built in South Korea, and is expected to go on sale in the fourth quarter of this year. No pricing information is available yet.