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2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid

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2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid Expert Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 9.0

For 2017, the Kia Optima sedan continues its march to perfection, building on the impressive improvements from last year’s launch by adding a plug-in hybrid model. Already a segment leader in the areas of performance, power, fuel economy and technology, the 2017 Optima sedan expands the availability of driver-assist features such as autonomous braking, but only on the EX and higher trims. For comparison, Toyota has this technology standard on every Camry regardless of trim. However, in almost every other area of interest to buyers, the Optima is more than a match for its rivals, including the Chevy Malibu, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion.

You'll Like This Car If...

Kia’s Optima sedan for 2017 delivers stellar good looks, an impressive array of features, a stunning interior and a wide range of models, including a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. The competitively priced Optima also comes standard with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you’re looking for safety on a budget, you should know Kia doesn’t offer its best driver-assist technology on its most affordable trims. A Toyota Camry or Honda Accord might be a better choice, or the Subaru Legacy, which also includes standard all-wheel drive.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 9.0
  • 8.9
  • 8.6
  • 8.9
  • 8.8
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#4

out of 31

Fuel Economy

#32

out of 32

Horsepower
View all rankings
2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid Low/wide front photo What's New for 2017

The 2017 Kia Optima gets a new plug-in hybrid model with an estimated 600-mile total driving range, but only 27 of that in full EV mode. The SX and SXL receive new 18-inch wheels, LED adaptive headlights and auto high beams; the SX gains a Value Package and revised Launch Edition package.

Driving the Optima Plug-in Hybrid
2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

While we would never confuse this midsize family sedan with a BMW, Audi or Cadillac sports sedan, the 2017 Kia Optima delivers performance and...

... handling a cut above most of its peers. The electric power steering on the SX and SXL trims, for example, is every bit as good as a hydraulic setup, with strong feedback and good on-center feel. If you opt for the LX or EX trim, however, you’ll get an older electric assist setup that is a bit more vague. While the suspension and tire selections on the LX and EX sedans are geared toward comfort, the SX and SXL’s suspension is nicely sorted, delivering excellent handling in tight curves without punishing the driver with too harsh a ride. We love the 2.0-liter turbo’s robust boost and ample low-end torque, made all the more enjoyable by an excellent 6-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode.

ANDROID AUTO & APPLE CARPLAY
As hard as they try, the auto manufacturers just couldn’t build an infotainment system to rival what Apple gave us with the first iPhone. Now, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, they don’t have to. Just plug in your smartphone and a mirror image appears on the car’s touch-screen interface.

HARMAN/KARDON AUDIO
Although you can find harman/kardon systems in other cars, the QuantumLogic7 surround audio system in the 2017 Kia Optima goes one step beyond. The sound is amazing and even old MP3 files find new life thanks to the Clari-Fi feature that helps restore digitally compressed files.

2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid Details
2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

Kia’s 2017 Optima sedan features a dash bisected by a thick metallic band of trim, with the gauges, infotainment touch screen and vents above, and the audio-system and climate-control buttons below. It's a clean design, and one that maintains the driver-oriented tilt of the previous car. All of the interior materials felt very high quality, with soft-touch surfaces on the door tops, dash and pretty much everywhere else you'd want them. The seats were plenty comfortable, and the back seat is downright huge, offering ample legroom even for tall passengers. Optima SXL models get Nappa leather and other high-end touches.

Exterior
2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid photo

One school of thought on the 2017 Kia Optima's styling is that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The previous-generation Optima was still a great-looking midsize sedan, sharp and modern, and the latest one carries much of the same sensibilities. There's a similar grille design, same sweeping arc of chrome over the roof, and so on. Yet there is so much new about the 2017 Kia Optima some lament the car didn’t get a completely new look as well. Then again, that gamble didn’t pay off too well for Hyundai’s Sonata, so we’re fine with the Optima keeping a familiar look.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The base-model 2017 Kia Optima LX comes with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Beyond that, there's a Driver Mode Select system that switches among Normal, Sport and Eco modes. Other Optima LX standard features include manual air conditioning, a 5-inch LCD screen with a rearview camera, and controls on the tilt-telescope steering wheel for the cruise control and audio system, which includes Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth and Auxiliary and USB inputs. The two front seats both adjust six different ways, with power lumbar support for the driver, and adjustable height on the passenger side.

Optional Equipment

The 2017 Kia Optima LX 1.6T comes with a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder connected to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, while the SX and SXL get a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine and a much improved power-steering system. Kia has also made its blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors available on LX models. Optima EX and SX buyers can add active cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warning, while the SXL features all these and a surround-view monitor. Other upgrades include dual-zone climate control, heated rear seats, a dual-panel panoramic sunroof with an opaque power sunshade, and the excellent harman/kardon audio system.

Under the Hood
2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid Engine photo

Base Optima LX and mid-grade Optima EX models get a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 185 horsepower connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Optima SX and SXL models get a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 245 horsepower, also connected to a 6-speed automatic, albeit with steering-wheel-mounted paddles. The LX 1.6T features a turbocharged 4-cylinder with 178 horsepower, but connected to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Hybrid models employ a normally aspirated 2.0-liter engine paired to an electric motor. Fuel economy is solid across the board, with LX models getting 34 mpg on the highway, SX getting 31 mpg, and the LX 1.6T model getting 37 mpg. The 2017 Optima Hybrid promises 46-mpg highway and the plug-in 103 mpge.

2.4-liter inline-4 (LX, EX)
185 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
178 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 mpg

1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 (LX 1.6T)
178 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
195 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/37 mpg

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (SX, SXL)
245 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 1,350-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg

2.0-liter inline-4 + Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (Hybrid)
154 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
140 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
Electric Motor: 50 horsepower/151 lb-ft of torque
Net Output: 192 horsepower/271 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 39/46 mpg

2.0-liter inline-4 + Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (Plug-in Hybrid)
154 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
140 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
Electric Motor: 66 horsepower/151 lb-ft of torque
Net Output: 202 horsepower/276 lb-ft of torque
EPA fuel economy: 103 mpge/40 mpg combined

Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.

Prices start modestly for the 2017 Kia Optima. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a base Optima LX will run the same as last year, about $23,100 with the $825 destination charge. The LX 1.6T starts just over $25,000, while the EX will run about $25,300. If you want more turbo power, the SX starts around $30,800, while the fully loaded, Nappa-leather SXL tops out at $37,000. The Optima Hybrid starts just shy of $27,000, while the Optima Plug-in Hybrid starts at $36,500. Those prices all compare nicely to the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and other midsize sedans, being neither the most expensive nor the cheapest. Be sure to check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see how much others in your area paid for their 2017 Optimas. Over time, the Kia Optima has become a better and better investment, with resale values in the better half of the segment.

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