While its pricing and arrival time in dealerships remain undisclosed, we now have a better idea about a host of enhancements that have been made to add even more appeal to the 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid. Key upgrades to the most fuel-efficient member of the automaker's mid-size sedan lineup focus on the electric side of its powertrain, but the new Optima Hybrid also will be offered in a base as well as a new EX trim grade.
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Seeking to endow the Optima Hybrid with better overall drivability and greater refinement, Kia replaced the existing 40-horsepower electric traction motor with a new 47-horsepower alternative and added a stronger Hybrid Starter/Generator while retaining the basic 2.4-liter 4-cylinder Atkinson Cycle gasoline engine. The 2013 revamp drops the combined system pony count from 206 to 199 horses, but raises the Optima Hybrid's total torque stat from 195 to 235 lb-ft, a change Kia says will significantly bolster the car's responsiveness. The modification process also extended to the 1.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which had its power output upped from 34kW to 47kW and was reconfigured to increase the amount of usable trunk space in the car. No word on yet on how this may impact the pure electric range of the 2013 Optima Hybrid, but EPA ratings on the base model have increased from 34 city/39 highway to 36/40 mpg with the EX model earning 35/39 mpg marks.
Set to roll onto the scene as a de facto replacement for the current base Optima Hybrid with Premium and Technology Package, the new EX will come with a major helping of primo upgrades. Highlighting the list are a navigation system with back-up camera, 8-speaker Infinity audio, panoramic sunroof, heated/ventilated front seats and a 17-inch wheel/tire fitment in place of the base model's 16-inch combo. Both variants also get a mildly revised name badge on the hood, trunk and steering wheel.
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