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2015 Kia Optima Hybrid

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 5/1/2015 Stefan Ogbac

New for 2015

The 2015 Kia Optima Hybrid is unchanged.

Research

Vehicle Summary

The 2015 Kia Optima Hybrid is powered by a 2.4-liter I-4 paired to an electric motor with a 47 kW lithium-ion battery to produce a total system output of 199 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox available. Fuel economy is decent for the class at 36/40 mpg city/highway in the base model and 35/39 mpg in the EX variant.

Overview

Since the 2015 Kia Optima Hybrid is equipped with a six-speed automatic gearbox, the car's drivetrain isn't as smooth in its operation as those of competitors with continuously variable transmissions (CVTs). The entire powertrain, however, lacks refinement -- the engine hesitates when accelerating. Activating the car's Active Eco mode maximizes fuel economy by adjusting the transmission's shift timing, and the accelerator has been stiffened.

The NHTSA gave the Optima Hybrid a five-star overall safety rating (out of a possible five stars) and it is considered an IIHS Top Safety Pick, earning a Good score in four categories and Acceptable in the small overlap front test. (Good is the highest possible score.)

What We Think

While the 2015 Kia Optima Hybrid remains a decent choice, it lags behind the competition in terms of fuel economy and refinement. In a 2011 First Test we said that while the car's brakes "feel normal when blending regenerative and friction braking," the hybrid powertrain is rough, unsettling, and inconsistent, like the motor "has a mind of its own." Additionally, acceleration is unimpressive because the powertrain hesitates and causes the car to "stumble off the line."

Value remains a strong point with plenty of standard and available features such as a panoramic sunroof, a navigation system with an 8-inch touch screen, and HID headlights. The car's distinctive swoopy profile also sets it apart.

You'll Like

  • Brakes feel less like that of a hybrid
  • Stylish exterior design
  • Good value

You Won't Like

  • Not as smooth as hybrids with a CVT
  • Unrefined powertrain
  • Hesitates when accelerating

Key Competitors

  • Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • Honda Accord Hybrid
  • Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
  • Ford Fusion Hybrid
  • Volkswagen Passat TDI

Rating

2 star

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