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2014 Kia Optima Hybrid Receives Subtle Updates Midway Through Model Year

By: Jeff Youngs, 2/10/2014
Did you know that the 2014 Kia Optima is offered as a hybrid model? Many consumers don't, despite Kia making steady improvements to the Optima Hybrid since it went on sale for the 2011 model year. The 2014 Optima Hybrid that debuted at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show continues the trend toward improvement.

Orth Hedrick, vice president of product planning, Kia Motors America, said: "(Optima Hybrid) is unique in its segment because it not only gives owners savings at the gas pump and a smaller carbon footprint, but it also delivers world-class design, robust performance and an upscale personality, making it a truly attractive and well-rounded hybrid offering."

Subtle styling modifications identify the freshened 2014 Optima Hybrid, with a new grille, new LED fog lights, new LED taillights, new "Hybrid" badges, and redesigned aluminum wheels distinguishing the latest version of the family-sized fuel saver. The front bumper is redesigned, too, helping to improve airflow and aerodynamics. The uplevel EX trim level gets standard LED positioning lights, which are available as an option for the base LX model.

Inside, the new 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid is equipped with the same upgrades that debuted in the standard Optima this year. They include upgraded interior materials, a new 4.3-inch LCD information screen in the gauge cluster, and a new high-resolution 8-inch infotainment touch-screen display (optional for LX). Vehicles equipped with the new infotainment system also benefit from Kia's UVO eServices smartphone integration technology.

Choose the Optima Hybrid EX and it is equipped with a new blind-spot detection system with rear park-assist sensors and rear cross-traffic alert. The EX version can be optioned with a White Leather package that includes premium leather with blue piping and high gloss black interior trim.

Kia refrains from mechanical changes following a significant upgrade to the car's gas-electric hybrid powertrain in 2013. The Optima Hybrid pairs a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with an electric assist motor, a Lithium-polymer battery, and a 6-speed automatic transmission to deliver a combined 199 horsepower and 235 lb.-ft. of torque, plenty for a car that weighs just under 3,500 lbs. In fact, Kia pitches the Optima Hybrid as a "smart, efficient, and invigorating drive."

Fuel economy, however, is not as impressive as competing models such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Honda Accord Hybrid. According to the EPA, the Optima Hybrid LX with the smaller 16-inch aluminum wheels returns 38 mpg in combined driving, while the EX with larger 17-inch wheels delivers 37 mpg. The powertrain is, however, covered under Kia's standard 10-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Kia expects the 2014 Optima Hybrid to go on sale in the spring of 2014.

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