Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid Debuts In Chicago (w/video)

1 year ago by Mark Kane 15

2017 Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Niro, 2017 Optima Hybrid and 2017 Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Niro, 2017 Optima Hybrid and 2017 Optima Plug-In Hybrid

Kia unveiled at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show its new PHEV – 2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid, which is the sister model to the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid (already available on the market).

Additionally, the Korean manufacturer brought to Chicago two all-new conventional hybrids: the 2017 Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle (HUV) and the 2017 Optima Hybrid (HEV). All those three models have in common the EcoDynamics environmentally friendly sub-brand.

Optima PHEV is a decent-looking midsize sedan, with an expected 27 miles of EPA range (like Sonata PHEV). Because of its size, there should be plenty of room and cargo space:

“To increase available cargo capacity in the trunk, the new battery pack is hidden behind the rear seat and tire well, giving Optima PHEV one of the largest cargo areas among all midsize PHEVs.  This thoughtful change also provides the space needed to offer 60/40 split-folding rear seats, which significantly increases the vehicle’s utility.”

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

Kia boasts the segment’s lowest coefficient of drag, which at 0.24 Cd is on par with the Tesla Model S. One of the solution for achieving this result is the active grille, which automatically opens and closes at high and low speeds.

On the road to fully autonomous cars, Kia is adding more and more driver assistance systems. In the case of Optima PHEV, there will be:

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Blind Spot Detection (BSD)
  • Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC)
  • Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS)
  • Front Collision Warning System (FCWS)

There will also be the richest set of UVO telematics in any vehicle Kia has ever produced:

“With more than 30 features, the PHEV encompasses technology from Kia’s flagship telematics vehicles, the K900 luxury sedan and Soul EV, and adds Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay.  UVO EV Services includes LTE wireless connectivity that enables direct communication to the vehicle for features such as remote start/stop, remote preconditioning of cabin temperature, and remote lock/unlock via the UVO app5.  Included in the app is a full suite of My Car Zone features, which includes curfew and speed alerts and Geofence settings, as well as Local Search powered by Google®6, which allows users to easily search for POIs (Points of Interest).”

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

Kia will introduce only one trim of Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid available in the U.S. – the EX.

Sales are to begin in the fourth quarter of 2016 (no pricing yet announced – Hyundai Sonata PHEV starts at $30,516 after tax credit, so perhaps a touch below this number), while production takes place at Hwasung, South Korea.

Quick specs:

  • 9.8 kWh battery and 27 miles expected EPA range
  • 50 kW electric motor and 2.0-liter “Nu” four-cylinder GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, power output is targeted for a class-leading 154 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • estimated 600 miles of total driving range
  • Full charge in less-than 3 hours via a 240V (Level 2) charger
  • segment’s lowest coefficient of drag, tied with the Tesla Model S at 0.24 Cd
2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

Unveiling:

Full press release:

All-new 2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid makes global debut at Chicago Auto Show

Kia’s First Plug-in Hybrid Showcases Advanced Efficiency and Boasts Technological Refinements     

  • Advancements in Kia’s hybrid system and increases in electric power combine for increased range and improved driving dynamics
  • Packed with new technology, the Optima PHEV arrives with a new suite of ECO telematics and infotainment upgrades, including Android Auto1 and Apple CarPlayTM2

Chicago, Feb. 11, 2016 – Kia Motors America (KMA) today unveiled the all-new 2017 Optima Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) at the Chicago Auto Show. Kia’s first PHEV joined two other fuel-efficient additions to the brand’s growing line-up of eco-friendly vehicles, including the all-new 2017 Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle (HUV) and all-new 2017 Optima Hybrid (HEV), all three of which are being introduced under the Kia Motors EcoDynamics environmentally friendly sub-brand.  A host of new technologies and features in the Kia Optima PHEV, including a more powerful hybrid engine, a smarter and more robust telematics system, exterior design enhancements, and greater interior refinement, all combine to deliver a superior hybrid drive experience.

“As part of our bold initiative to increase fuel efficiency by 25 percent across the entire Kia model line-up by 2020, a plug-in hybrid was a critical addition to our offering. The Optima HEV adds hybrid efficiency to the standout styling and vehicle dynamics of our all-new Optima, and the PHEV takes things one step further with all-electric range that is among the best in the segment,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, Kia Motors America. “All three of the vehicles being introduced here at the Chicago Auto Show are emblematic of Kia’s commitment to sustainability and our philosophy that you shouldn’t have to accept compromises when making a green choice.”

The all-new 2017 Optima Plug-in Hybrid is crafted with many of the same luxurious appointments of its gas-powered sibling, along with numerous Hybrid-exclusive touches, including a distinctive instrument cluster and unique exterior design elements and specially designed alloy wheels.  The Optima Plug-in Hybrid, available in one trim, EX, will be built at Hwasung, South Korea, and is expected to go on sale in the fourth quarter of this year.  Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.

High-efficiency Hybrid Technology
The all-new 2017 Optima PHEV was engineered with a dual focus on efficiency and driving dynamics.  Utilizing Kia’s highly efficient 2.0-liter “Nu” four-cylinder GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, power output is targeted for a class-leading 154 hp @ 6,000 rpm.  Electric power is produced by a transmission-mounted 50 kW motor, which is 42 percent more powerful than in the previous Optima Hybrid to allow for greater all-electric capability.  This hybrid system provides a fast and seamless transition from EV to gasoline to hybrid modes, as well as more refined shift quality.  Overall engine efficiency is also improved by the introduction of a High Voltage Electric Oil Pump, replacing the combination mechanical oil pump and low voltage electric pump found in the outgoing Optima Hybrid.  Transmission cooling changes from natural air to water.  These engineering enhancements yield an expected engine efficiency improvement of more than 20 percent.

With an estimated 600 miles of total driving range, the Optima PHEV’s next-generation battery system features a 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, which produces roughly 60 percent more energy output than the battery pack found in the outgoing Optima’s hybrid system, and is estimated to achieve 27 miles in full EV mode, placing the Optima PHEV among the segment leaders in all-electric range.  To increase available cargo capacity in the trunk, the new battery pack is hidden behind the rear seat and tire well, giving Optima PHEV one of the largest cargo areas among all midsize PHEVs.  This thoughtful change also provides the space needed to offer 60/40 split-folding rear seats, which significantly increases the vehicle’s utility.  Additional power to the battery system is generated from the vehicle’s improved Regenerative Braking System, which maximizes regenerative torque through refined cooperative control between the hybrid control unit and the brake actuation unit, resulting in a 10 percent increase in regenerative energy.  The Optima PHEV is equipped with a single charging port conveniently located in the driver’s side front fender.  A full charge can be achieved in less-than three hours via a 240V (Level 2) charger, and less-than nine hours via a 120V (Level 1) charger.

The all-new Optima PHEV provides its driver with options to reserve electric range via a plug-in hybrid mode select system.  Exclusive to the PHEV variant of the all-new Optima, the system includes an all-Electric Mode (EV), which is suitable for short-range city driving, Hybrid Mode (HEV) for highway driving, and Charging Mode, which increases energy direction to the battery while driving at higher speeds.  The energy produced while in Charging Mode can then be utilized in EV mode, extending the convenience of full electric power without stopping to charge.

All-new Eco-DAS3 (Driver Assistance System) features Kia’s first application of Coasting Guide.  This feature aims at maximizing fuel economy by essentially coaching the driver on when to coast and brake via an icon in the Instrument Panel that blinks for four-seconds and sounds a one-time audible alert.

Aerodynamic Form and Function
Although the new PHEV boasts the same bold styling as the redesigned Optima, it offers distinctive design features and exterior elements that differentiate it from the gas-powered models in the Optima range, while also achieving the segment’s lowest coefficient of drag, tied with the Tesla Model S at 0.24 Cd.  Featuring an active grille, which automatically opens and closes at high and low speeds, the PHEV improve aerodynamics while optimizing engine bay cooling.  Numerous other styling differences include a model-specific front air curtain, a beveled rear bumper, a rear diffuser designed to streamline airflow by shrouding the exhaust tip, and an aerodynamic alloy-wheel design. These are complemented by modern LED lighting, chrome side sill molding, and ‘Eco Plug-In’ badging. Similar to the gasoline-powered Optima, the PHEV’s wheelbase has been lengthened by 0.4 inches (now 110 inches) over the previous generation Optima, and overall length has increased 0.4 inches to 191.1 inches.

Intelligent Technology
The new Optima Plug-In Hybrid makes intelligent use of technology to deliver a host of driver assistance systems and convenience features.  Like the HEV, the PHEV offers Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)4, which, under appropriate conditions, will bring the vehicle to a complete stop to potentially avoid a collision or reduce damage.  Other key driver assistance systems include Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) and Front Collision Warning System (FCWS)4.

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid has the richest set of UVO telematics in any vehicle Kia has ever produced. With more than 30 features, the PHEV encompasses technology from Kia’s flagship telematics vehicles, the K900 luxury sedan and Soul EV, and adds Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay.  UVO EV Services includes LTE wireless connectivity that enables direct communication to the vehicle for features such as remote start/stop, remote preconditioning of cabin temperature, and remote lock/unlock via the UVO app5.  Included in the app is a full suite of My Car Zone features, which includes curfew and speed alerts and Geofence settings, as well as Local Search powered by Google®6, which allows users to easily search for POIs (Points of Interest).

Exclusive EV features for charging convenience include the ability to locate charging stations, an option to check your vehicle’s charge status, as well as scheduling charge events.  Adding hands-free connectivity is Google® Voice Recognition Local Search, which can search for POIs utilizing voice recognition technology.  Additionally, within the Kia App Store, apps can be downloaded to the head-unit using the PHEV’s Wi-Fi capability.

Available at no cost for the first three years of ownership with no subscription necessary, UVO EV Services utilizes an embedded connectivity solution powered by the Verizon®7 network and the UVO smartphone app to provide Optima Plug-In Hybrid owners with an innovative, real-time, in-vehicle connectivity experience.

Drivers are treated to an outstanding audio experience with the available Harman/Kardon QuantumLogic™ Premium Surround Sound Audio System8, which includes 10 speakers, Clari-Fi™9 technology and an upgraded 630-watt digital amplifier.  Introduced in the 2016 Sorento, Clari-Fi is a patented music restoration technology that rebuilds audio signals that are lost in the digital compression process.

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15 responses to "Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid Debuts In Chicago (w/video)"

  1. Alaa says:

    How will this car compete with the model 3 of Tesla!

    1. pk says:

      Model 3 is supposed to compete with BMW 3 series not Kia. So this will be a lot cheaper than the 3.

    2. Benjamin says:

      This actually looks like a really nice package. They are beating the 3 to market by what? A year and a half? And are quite a bit cheaper and probably will come with higher option level on the base car than the Tesla will.

      Impressive aero work, Kia. Also thanks for the useful 20+ mile range and the ability to run in EV mode. That would be plenty for my full days driving most days.

      I’m not buying a new car this year or probably ever, but this is a pretty compelling package to me … I do worry about Kia’s reliability though.

  2. Lou says:

    This kind of competes with the Volt(although Volt has 2X’s the EV range), the Ford Fusion and maybe a few other PHEV’s. Shorter EV range but what appears to be a much larger interior, it may do well against the 2016 Volt. Depends on a driver’s needs. Does seem to really hurt the Fusion though.

    Lou

  3. kdawg says:

    “Quick specs:

    9.8 kWh battery and 27 miles expected EPA range”

    1. Speculawyer says:

      That image cracks me up every time.

      Yeah, we’ve become greedy. I remember when the discussions were about whether we just needed 100, 120, or 150 miles range for EVs to catch on. Now it is 200+ miles or bust.

  4. David Murray says:

    I am still very skeptical of this 50KW electric motor. Has anyone done an acceleration test yet? Can this thing even drive in all-electric mode or is it always a blended hybrid?

    1. Jonathan DiBernardo says:

      My best guess is it is like the Fusion or the Prius. It will go up to xx mph then be blended. It will be another superior hybrid and not an EREV like the bold or I3REx. It needs a 15KWH battery and it needs a 100+ KW motor to be really attractive to the EV enthusiasts.

      1. Nate says:

        And it probably needs a bigger trunk to appeal to a decent percentage of non EV enthusiasts.

    2. Benjamin says:

      It has an all-electric mode and 50kw should be plenty for utilitarian city driving and lower speed highway driving. The instant torque should make it responsive off the line, but it’s not going to win any drag races.

  5. Speculawyer says:

    Not bad . . . it is hard to be interested in cars like this when there are much more interesting things like Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, Chevy Bolt, etc.

    1. Nate says:

      Have to admit, I like the passenger room compared to our Volt.

      If only the Optima/Sonata PHEV were a wagon, or even something along the lines of the Mazda6 hatch they use to make (that looked very much like the sedan). I’d be very interested in that. As it is, the cargo space is a bit less than the Volt on paper, and likely very noticeably less in practical use since it is a trunk.

      I’ve come to the conclusion the BEV purist out there have a point when it comes to simplicity of the BEV, but not for the reason typically argued. It does make things much easier in terms of providing good cargo/passenger space. I still don’t buy the argument of complexity/maintenance because on a PHEV with range that meets your daily needs, there is next to no extra maintenance during a lease period as compared to a BEV. Gotta rotate the tires on either one.

      1. Benjamin says:

        The complexity argument is compelling on it’s own account, but the space argument is also a good one.

        There are all kinds of fluids, gaskets, high temperature and presssure and moving parts involved as soon as you add an ICE.

        Most people will want to change the oil a couple times a year whether they really need to or not. And many people are concerned about longer than an initial lease period.

        1. Nate says:

          Thanks for giving it a shot, but I am still not sold by the argument of complexity/maintenance/repairs an ICE is compelling for my situation. This is based off of my own usage with the Volt, as well as many old & new cars that I’ve had over the years. I am aware of what can go wrong, and the likelyhood with my driving pattern. The ICE on our Volt has been had 0 problems, and has allowed us to take some extended trips that wouldn’t have worked w/out it. By comparison, public chargers I’ve tried to use have had hit and miss reliability:) That wouldn’t stop me from getting a BEV, but I do wonder if every charging standard out there now will be obsolete some day. So, I’d prefer a good lease deal when it comes to BEV’s or PHEV’s though, and many others do when it comes to this segment. It works out quite nice to have an easy out as the technology improves.

          To each their own though.

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Yeah, its interesting… I own a 5 year old Volt, and again, no real problems. No problems with the ELR I own either, with the exact same drive train, only different software controlling things. The only thing I can say about GM is they have a huge propensity to make things much more complex than necessary.

            At the Buffalo Auto Show earlier today, I struck up a conversation with the PR guy for the GM engine plant nearby, where they had several 2000 cc, 6’s, 8’s and turbos on display. They talked about a 2-stage thermostat, so I asked. I think this also applies to the 1400 cc used in the GEN 1 Volt and ELR, even though its not made there. It opens gradually at 185 deg F, until fully open at 195 deg F, but instead of just having a very reliable bi-metalic snap disc they have a progressive electrically assisted unit. All this for a dumb thermostat. The other electrically assisted device makes a bit more sense – the oil pump – variable speed since it runs off the engine balance shaft – is further cut in half at idle speeds since the design of the engine can be harmed by too much oil at low speeds, and it doesn’t need much at all at idle.

            It does, (as well as the VOLT, I think) have a timing chain instead of the typical ‘rubber band’; another plus is that the water pump is easily swapped since it now runs off the serpentine belt.

            But I brought up the ‘bad news’ of the Chevy Colorado 5 cyl engine which everyone I’ve talked to has had nothing but trouble with it. The PR guy said, OH, that’s the ‘ATLAS’ engine program that has been discontinued.

            So even though these new engines are Aluminum Blocked, apparently the ‘cast – in’ cast iron liners are very stable – as long as the engine is never overheated.

            But, fingers crossed, hopefully the engines they use in the GEN 1 and GEN 2 volts will withstand the test of time. I disagreed with those who were critical of the ‘old = fashioned’ engine in the volt 5 years ago, since, my prime concern was a RELIABLE ENGINE. The VOlt and ELR doubly benefit since they get ‘kid gloves’ treatment by the control system, and don’t run that much in general anyway.