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17.07.2014
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As one of the first steps in Kia's ambitious 5-year green car program, the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid will come to America next year, to be followed later by its even more fuel-efficient, and Kia's first, Plug-in Hybrid model.
Not surprisingly, the drivetrains in the Optima Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid mirror those found in their corporate cousins, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Sonata Plug-in Hybrid. The same basic hardware is used in the upcoming Plug-in Hybrid, although total pony count on that vehicle rises to 202 and torque -- which has not yet been finalized -- also will be higher. With seat time limited and traffic conditions less than ideal, our evaluation of these non-U.S. Visual changes to the new Optima Hybrid and Plug-in are understated but well focused, helping drop the coefficient of drag to an impressive 0.24.


We recently drove domestic-market versions of both in Korea, where the Optima carries a "K5" designation.
So too will be its EV range, thanks to a larger-capacity 9.8 kWh split battery pack located behind the rear seat as well as in the area normally occupied by the spare tire. Highlighting the list are edgier fascia treatments, active grille shutters, aero-enhancing wheels, an integrated decklid spoiler and a bespoke rear diffuser that also hides the exhaust outlet.
The new "Nu" engine is teamed with a 51-horse electric motor in the Hybrid - up from 47 in the present car - that's isolated from the engine by a clutching system but directly mounted to a bespoke 6-speed Shiftronic automatic. Mechanically, the hybrid system represents an impressive update from the 2016 Optima Hybrid with the new Plug-in further sweetening the deal thanks to its extended EV range.
This "Transmission-Mounted Electrical Device" (TMED) replaces the conventional torque converter and permits both hybrid and pure EV operation.


In addition to more power, less weight, tidier packaging and greater efficiency found in key components of both basic systems, each offers numerous other subtle enhancements.
The 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid is slated to hit showrooms here in the spring with the Plug-in Hybrid arriving in the fall.
Rounding out the package is a new integrated power control unit and a lithium-ion-polymer battery pack which can store 1.56kWh of charge. Boasting 13 percent more energy and 19 percent more power than the 2016 Optima Hybrid, it contributes to a projected 42 mpg combined EPA number, which matches the Ford Fusion Hybrid.



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