Kia Debuts 2 New Optima Hybrids At Chicago Auto Show

Feb 16, 2016 05:57 PM EST | John Nassivera

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Kia took the Chicago Auto Show last week as an opportunity to debut two new hybrid versions of its Optima sedan that will allow the company to better meet emission standards and improve fuel economy.

Both vehicles, the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid and the Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid, are designed after the fourth-generation Optima, but the first is claimed to have improved fuel economy by 10 percent and the later will be the Korean automaker's first PHEV, according to Gizmag.

While both vehicles use a 154 hp 2.0 liter four cylinder GDI engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and have an electric range of just under 30 miles, the Optima Hybrid has a 1.62 kWh battery and 38 kW electric motor, and the Plug-in Hybrid has a 9.8 kWh battery and a 50 kW motor, Gas 2.0 reported.

The regular hybrid's engine comes with electric oil and water pumps as a way to improve efficiency by saving mechanical horsepower, and the vehicle's lithium-polymer battery pack powers the electric motor and is charged through regenerative braking and the engine's excess power output.

The PHEV model has a similar appearance as that of the gasoline and hybrid versions of the Optima, except for the instrument cluster and exterior badging, Gizmag reported. Its motor allows for additional propulsion and EV-only propulsion, which should provide a 20 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over the previous-generation Optima Hybrid.

Both new hybrids are aimed at giving Kia a chance to improve fuel economy by 25 percent across the company's product line by 2020, CheatSheet noted. They were also not the only vehicles introduced in Chicago with this goal in mind, the other being the new Kia Niro hybrid crossover, which can hit 50 miles per gallon.

Kia will make the standard Optima Hybrid and Optima Plug-in Hybrid available at the end of 2016.

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