2017 Optima Plug-In Hybrid

Appearing at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show are the 2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) and Optima Hybrid (HEV), alongside the new Niro Hybrid. All three vehicles falls under the Kia Motors EcoDynamics banner – the company’s eco-friendly sub-brand.

Updates to the hybrid pair include exterior enhancements, interior refinements along with a more powerful hybrid engine and an improved telematics system. On the outside, the refreshed Optima PHEV and HEV feature similar distinctive elements to differentiate it from the fuel-powered Optima. To add to that, both cars achieve aerodynamic drag coefficient figure of 0.24 Cd – similar to the Tesla Model S.

Said elements on both the Optima PHEV and HEV include an active grille that automatically opens and closes at high and low speeds, a front air curtain, LED lighting, chrome side sill holding, a beveled rear bumper and a rear diffuser designed to streamline airflow. Other items include an aerodynamic alloy-wheel design and an ‘Eco Plug-in’ badge for the PHEV, and ‘EcoHybrid’ for the HEV.

Engine-wise, they both employ a 2.0 litre Nu four-cylinder engine that makes 154 hp at 6,000 rpm. The mill is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Electric power is channelled through a transmission-mounted 50 Kw motor – said to be 42% more powerful than the one used in the previous Optima Hybrid. The HEV however, gets a smaller 38 kW electric motor, with a combined output of 193 hp at 6,000 rpm.

A new high voltage electric oil pump provides improved engine efficiency – now up by 20%. The Optima PHEV has an estimated total travel range of 965 km and 43 km in full EV mode – thanks to a “next-generation” battery system. It can be charged in under three hours with a 240 V charger and under nine hours with a 120 V charger. The charging port is at the driver’s side front fender.

Said battery is a 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer pack, hidden behind the rear seat and tyre well (said to allow for the largest in-class cargo space). Kia claims that the new battery in the Optima PHEV has 60% more energy output than the previous cell. The regenerative braking system has been improved too, providing a 10% increase in regenerative energy.

2017 Optima Hybrid

A plug-in hybrid mode select system is exclusive to the Optima PHEV. It includes an all-Electric Mode (EV) for city driving, Hybrid Mode (HEV) for highway driving and Charging Mode, which increases energy direction to the battery at higher speeds. Power produced in this mode can be utilised in EV mode, so there’s no need to stop and charge the vehicle.

As for the body, the Optima Hybrid features more than 50% Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) construction. Moreover, it gets more hot-stamped components and there’s greater use of structural adhesive to improve noise, vibration and harshness levels as well as structural rigidity. The result of this is better crash protection, driving dynamics and a quieter ride.

Inside, the Optima PHEV and the HEV is fitted with a 10-speaker Harman/Kardon QuantumLogic premium surround sound system, Clari-Fi tech and an updated 630-watt digital amplifier. The Optima PHEV gets an enhanced UVO telematics set with over 30 features. As for the Optima Hybrid, it comes with model-specific gauges, soft-touch materials and stitching along the dash and doors.

Additionally, the Optima Hybrid features a wider centre console and reduced functional keys and buttons. To add to that, it also has a stiffer seat frame and utilises more soft foam, for reduced vibration and better support. The front seats are also heated and ventilated and height-adjustable as well. Hands-free trunk open feature with smart key, while a wireless phone charger and surround view monitoring are also offered.

As for safety tech, both the Optima PHEV and Hybrid come with autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection, advanced smart cruise control, lane departure and front collision warning system. New to the Optima PHEV and Hybrid is Eco-DAS (driver assistance system), which features Coasting Guide. Said feature tells the driver when to coast and brake, so as to maximise fuel economy.

GALLERY: 2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid

GALLERY: 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid