2014 Optima Hybrid New Car Test Drive
The Kia Optima is a midsize sedan with a smooth, quiet ride and able driving dynamics. The 2013 Kia Optima competes with the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Mazda6, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata.
For 2013, Optima carries over largely unchanged, but new features have been added and Kia has consolidated the model lineup.
All 2013 Optima models get a revised Kia badge on the hood, trunk and steering wheel, as well as a new sliding front headrest. Last redesigned for the 2011 model year, Optima still looks contemporary. It’s sleek and muscular, without a jumble of distracting design elements.
Kia Optima LX and EX use a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. This engine is short on excitement, but it's fine for most drivers. Quiet at highway cruising speeds, it delivers enough power to keep up with fast traffic on the freeways, while delivering an EPA-estimated 24/35 mpg City/Highway. All 2013 Optima models come standard with a 6-speed automatic.
Kia Optima SX features a peppy 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. The turbocharged inline-4 found on the Optima SX sweetly carries this sedan into another world. With 274 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, the Optima SX boasts first-rate performance, stability and agility. Silky smooth, the turbocharged engine propels the Optima SX from 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds, quick for this class. Fuel economy suffers a bit compared to the naturally aspirated version, with an EPA rating of 22/34 mpg City/Highway. and comes standard with leather upholstery and wood interior accents
Kia Optima Hybrid uses a 2.4-liter four-cylinder Atkinson cycle gas engine that produces 166 horsepower connected by a wet clutch to an Interior Permanent Magnet (IPM) synchronous electric motor producing 40 horsepower. The battery that powers the electric motor is state of the art, a 270V lithium-polymer (Li-PB) battery. Compared to a nickel metal hydride system, this 95-pound Li-PB system is 20-30 percent lighter, 40 percent smaller, holds a charge 25 percent longer, is 10 percent more efficient, and offers twice the power density. The warranty is good for up to 10 years or 150,000 miles. It's a hybrid, so you don't need to plug it in. Just fill it with gas and go.
Efficiency-wise, the Hybrid drags Optima back into a third world. Its EPA estimated mileage is 35/40 miles per gallon. However, we only got 25.5 mpg during our lead-footed stint. The 6-speed automatic transmission was rough, which we blame on its electronic programming.
Interior appointments and materials in all Optima models are handsome, generous, and of high quality for the class. Beautiful leather adorns the dashboard and seating, comfortable with firm support, including the rear. The design and layout of the instrumentation reflect thought and employ the latest technology. The expected conveniences are all there, plus bonuses such as a cooled glove compartment for keeping beverages cool.
Optima uses front-wheel drive and a four-wheel independent suspension that is athletic and responsive. We found the ride quality compliant over rougher pavement, filtering out harshness, while the suspension accurately communicates smaller bumps and ripples. The chassis is good, and although Optima is no performance sedan, its handling has a sporty glimmer.
Three trim levels plus a hybrid version comprise the 2013 Kia Optima lineup. Optima LX and EX models are powered by a 2.4-liter inline-four that makes 200 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. The SX uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with 274 hp and 269 pound-feet of torque.
The 2013 Kia Optima LX ($21,350) comes standard with cloth upholstery, manually operated air conditioning, tilt/telescope steering wheel with audio controls, power windows/doors/mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity, an audio system with Satellite radio capability, USB port, auxiliary jack, cooling glovebox, rearview camera display integrated into the rearview mirror, 60/40 split folding rear seats and 16-inch alloy wheels. An optional Technology Package ($2,700) adds dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, an 8-speaker Infinity audio system and rearview camera. The Convenience Package ($600) upgrades to an eight-way power driver's seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink and compass. For those who opt not to add the Technology Package, the Convenience Plus Package ($1,100) adds the Convenience package features plus Kia’s UVO infotainment system and a rearview camera.
Optima EX ($23,650) adds leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air conditioning, an 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar, pushbutton start, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, wood interior accents, power-folding outside mirrors and upgrades the wheels to 17-inch alloys.
The EX Premium Package ($2,950) adds heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, driver’s seat memory, a four-way power passenger’s seat the 8-speaker Infinity audio system with HD radio, rearview camera, a power sunroof and power folding outside mirrors.
Sporty SX models ($26,800) get leather sport seats, a rear lip spoiler, wood interior accents, chrome exterior accents, LED daytime running lights, HID headlamps, LED tail lamps and unique18-inch chrome wheels with red brake calipers.
Optima Hybrid ($25,700) uses a 2.4-liter I4 Atkinson cycle gas engine that produces 166 horsepower and an electric motor with 40 horsepower. It comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, front and rear lower bumpers and side sills, a rear spoiler, and LED taillamps. Inside, there's an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, electric dual zone automatic temperature control with rear vents, push-button start with Smart Key, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, fixed rear seats with ski pass-through. Premium Technology Package ($5350) adds 17-inch alloy wheels with low-rolling-resistance tires, panoramic sunroof, a four-way power adjustable front passenger seat, driver's seat memory, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel, HID head lights with automatic leveling, leatherette-wrapped center fascia, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with Homelink and compass, a navigation system with back-up camera and SiriusXM Traffic, and the premium Infinity audio system.
Safety features include dual front advanced airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, side-impact door beams, front/rear crumple zones, impact-absorbing steering column, three-point seatbelts, front seatbelt pretensioners, adjustable front seatbelt anchors, child safety locks, child seat anchors, emergency trunk release, four-wheel power anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), brake assist, traction control (TCS), electronic stability control (ESC), hill-start assist (HAC), and the mandated tire-pressure monitor.