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Test Drive: 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

2017 Optima Hybrid

For 2017, the Kia Optima offers a model for just about every taste. It’s available as a gas model, a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid, each with a variety of trim levels to suit any desire, from sporty to luxurious.

After receiving refreshed styling for 2016, the gas-only 2017 Kia Optima comes with three engines and five trim levels with a starting price of $22,200. LX and EX trims come standard with a 185 horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, while the LX 1.6T is powered by a 178 horsepower, 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder. Both SX and SX Limited trims get a 245 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

For gas-only trims, Kia has upped the ante to increase its features, continuing its reputation for providing the ultimate bang-for-the-buck. For 2017, EX models can now be equipped with the new premium plus package, which includes autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, advanced cruise control, lane departure warning, high beam assist and an electronic parking brake. The SX gets standard 18-inch alloy wheels, while 18-inch chrome alloy wheels are now standard on the SXL. Making the top-of-the-line SXL even more luxurious are new standard LED dual-projection headlights, which are also offered with the new technology package on the SX.

My test model, the 2017 Kia Optima hybrid, received the same styling changes as the gas-only model. A new hybrid powertrain results in a 10-percent improvement in fuel economy while producing 192 horsepower. The result makes the Optima Hybrid surprisingly powerful and fun to drive. The new hybrid battery now fits entirely under the trunk floor, providing a larger, more practical load area in the trunk and a 60/40-split rear seat. There are two trim levels: Premium, which starts at $25,995, and the fully loaded EX, which starts at $30,990.

Starting at $35,210, the 2017 Kia Optima plug-in hybrid furthers Kia’s goal to improve fuel efficiency by 25 percent across its model line. The hybrid drivetrain can be plugged in to provide 29 electric-only miles and a total driving range of 600 miles. It fully charges in under three hours with a Level 2 charger or in less than nine hours in a standard 120V outlet. It is offered in one trim level that is well-equipped with luxury features and advanced technology including front collision and lane departure warning systems, advanced cruise control and blind-spot detection.

The test 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid EX with the hybrid technology package was priced at $37,280.

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