What is it? Kia has unveiled the brand's first hybrid, the Optima hybrid, with a claimed fuel economy of 40 mpg highway. The hybrid uses the same 2.4-liter engine six-speed automatic transmission found in the gasoline Optima. The electric motor produces 40 horsepower in electric-only mode, and total output is 206 horsepower in hybrid mode.
Weight savings are key to increasing fuel economy. Kia claims the Optima Hybrid weighs 3,490 pounds, 230 pounds lighter than the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid. The lithium-polymer battery is 28 pounds less than the Camry hybrid's nickel-metal-hydride pack. Low rolling resistance tires, electric air conditioning, automatic stop-start, and a low 0.26 drag coefficient adds to the vehicle's efficiency. The Optima hybrid can run on just the lithium-polymer battery up to 62 mph.
Consumers opting for the hybrid share features with the regular Optima LX, including eight-way power driver seat, dual-zone climate control, push-button start with smart key, leather-wrapped steering, and rear seat pass through. Also standard is a pre-recorded engine sound that is used during electric operation to warn outside pedestrians.
A technology package is available, adding a sunroof, 17-inch wheels, power adjustable passenger seat, heated-and-cooled front and rear seats and steering wheel, as well as navigation system with back-up camera.
When will it be available? Early 2011.