A great highway cruiser for Kia's Optmima Hybrid

Kia Shows Off Its Optima Hybrid At AltCar Expo

Kia showed us a gorgeous looking Optima at AltCar Expo, this time in hybrid mode. But does beauty support what the ride should feel like?

Kia and Hyundai have come up quickly, overtaking even its Japanese counterparts in some segments. While both manufacturers offer impressive cars that deliver top performance for a very affordable price, it feels their hybrid powertrain is still a work in progress.

Technically Speaking. This is effectively the brand's first hybrid for the U.S. market, mechanically identical to the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, but with a trick ups its sleeves. It is optimized for highway driving as we found out. The hybrid version of the Optima sports good numbers, with an estimated fuel economy 36 mpg city and 40 mpg on highway. Using the company’s 2.4L 4 cylinder DOHC with variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder, it puts out 206 HP with 195 ft-lb of torque. The electric motor offers an additional 40 HP using a 1.4 kWh Lithium Polymer battery pack.

The car does offer some great features, such as it can be driven in full-electric mode at speeds of up to 62 mph. However, at anytime you can bring in the gasoline engine in true hybrid form. It was easy to stay in electric mode as long as you didn’t floor it. But once you floor it, something strange happens. A lag that can last sometime and the gasoline engine kicks in. Step of the accelerator and brake, and the engine is still high-revving. This was an odd feeling and left us with the sensation the car didn’t know what was happening.

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