2011 Kia Optima Hybrid priced from $27,250

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 11, 2011

The hybrid version of the 2011 Kia Optima sedan will arrive at U.S. dealerships this June. It’s priced at $27,250 (including a $750 destination charge), making it more expensive than the Optima’s mechanical twin, the Hyundai Sonata hybrid priced at $26,545.

It’s also priced $560 higher than the top-of-the-line Optima SX. Just like the Sonata, the Optima hybrid features a modified 2.4-liter inline-four engine that delivers 166 hp and 154 lb-ft of torque.

It is equipped with a 40-hp electric motor and a 30 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Kia claims that the car can go as fast as 62 mph on electrical power alone.

When combined, the motor and gasoline engine have an output of 206hp and 195 pound-feet of torque. The Optima hybrid has an EPA rating of 35/40 mpg city/highway, a marked improvement over the 24/35 mpg ratings of a non-hybrid Optima that has a manual transmission.

The standard equipment for this hybrid car includes a power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The car has been given a set of hybrid-exclusive 16-inch alloy wheels, and fog lights, LED taillights. It has new designs for the front and rear fascias to set it apart visually from its non-hybrid siblings. The hybrid car has also been installed with UVO, Kia’s Microsoft-powered infotainment system that enables drivers to control phones and music players through the use of voice commands.

Powertrain

The new Kia Optima Hybrid features a Transmission-Mounted-Electric-Drive (TMED) layout, which separates the electric motor from the transmission gear-set. This is in contrast to the layout of power-split hybrid systems employed in Toyota or Ford vehicles. Since this TMED layout using "off-the-shelf" components like six-speed automatic transmission fitted on the 2.4-liter GDI Optima, it requires less engineering investment and allows for more possible combinations like the employment of more powerful motors and higher capacity batteries.

Moreover, the new Kia Optima Hybrid could be considered as one of the first full hybrid systems employing a typical step-ratio six-speed automatic transmission that was first seen on the 2011 Kia Sorento CUV. The new Kia Optima Hybrid also features an external electrically driven oil pump for supplying the hydraulic fluid pressure required to ensure that the clutches remains engaged while the hybrid vehicle is in idle stop mode. Its electric motor -- hard-coupled to the transmission input – comes with a permanent magnet synchronous electric traction motor that delivers up to 40.2 hp (30 kilowatt) of output and 151.2 pound-feet of torque on electric only mode, and up to 206.2 hp of output and 195.4 pound-feet of torque on hybrid mode.

This permanent magnet synchronous electric traction motor effectively replaced the torque converter. With a multi-disc clutch placed between the engine and motor, this system allows the gasoline engine to be de-coupled from the powertrain during idle stop and when operating in electric mode. This well-thought layout enables the entire package -- including a torsional damper – to be placed within the same area as the conventional torque converter. In addition, the new Kia Optima Hybrid is specified with an 8.5 kilowatt Hybrid-Starter-Generator (HSG), which belt-driven off the Theta II engine. Operating at 270 volts, HSG does not contribute to the traction ability of the Kia Optima Hybrid as it is used solely for starting the engine and recharging the hybrid battery. Interestingly, the hybrid electric powertrain found in the Kia Optima Hybrid could recover energy typically lost during braking, then storing it for future use like during acceleration and cruising.

As soon as brakes are applied, the engine is decoupled from the traction motor, which means there’s no drag on the vehicle. Then, the motor serves as a generator for recharging the hybrid battery. Since the conversion of kinetic energy into electrical energy – instead of into thermal energy via the friction brakes -- reduces the wear on the brake linings, they are now more durable. Moreover, regenerative braking makes the brakes become more effective during conditions that need emergency stopping or when driving on hills. Another technology employed by the Kia Optima Hybrid is an electronically controlled brake system that could determine the braking needs according to on the degree of pedal application, and convert it to a total brake torque requirement.

Then, the Optima’s hybrid system control measures the current power level of the battery, vehicle speed and other factors to determine the possible amount of regenerative braking under the current conditions. The brake control system then is provided with the optimal level of regenerative braking to manage the friction braking torque to ensure that the total net torque just matches the driver's needs. Of course, just like its 2011 Optima siblings, the Optima Hybrid features an Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) system could provide a needed instant boost during steering maneuvers. Lighter than an engine-driven hydraulic assist, the EPAS works independently from the engine. In fact, could provide assistance even when the engine is at work, like during when the hybrid is in electric drive mode or is on idle stop.

Press Release

KIA MOTORS AMERICA ANNOUNCES PRICING FOR FIRST-EVER KIA HYBRID VEHICLE IN THE U.S.

With a stunning design, roomy interior, class-leading fuel efficiency and a starting price of $26,500, the 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid - Kia Motors America's (KMA) first hybrid vehicle in the U.S. - will attract those looking for a stylish and well-appointed sedan that does not sacrifice style, comfort, performance or value for fuel efficiency. Set to hit showrooms in June5 , the Optima Hybrid employs a Kia-developed powertrain that includes several innovations, including advanced lithium polymer batteries from LG Chem, to deliver up to 35 miles per gallon in city driving and 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

Kia Motors America's first hybrid vehicle in the U.S. will begin arriving in showrooms in June with a starting price of $26,500.

"Since arriving in showrooms in late 2010, the all-new Optima's combination of stylish design, upscale features and remarkable safety have attracted new customers to the Kia brand, and with gas prices continuing to rise the arrival of our first hybrid model will continue our unprecedented growth and momentum," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO, KMA and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia. "With a starting price under $27,000, the Optima Hybrid provides fuel-conscious shoppers with an outstanding value proposition by being priced below nearly all midsize hybrid competitors and delivering class-leading fuel economy along with head-turning style and advanced technologies."

The 2011 Optima Hybrid uses a full parallel hybrid system and can be driven in zero emission, full-electric drive mode at speeds up to 62 miles per hour or in blended gas-electric mode at any speed. When the car comes to a stop and the electrical load is low, the engine shuts off to completely eliminate idle fuel consumption and emissions.

In addition to offering consumers class-leading fuel economy, the 2011 Optima Hybrid also delivers high levels of style, comfort and refinement. Available in two configurations, all Optima Hybrids offer several unique features, including front grille design, 16-inch alloy wheel design, headlamp design, fog lamps, heated outside mirrors, front and rear lower bumpers and side sills and LED tail lamp design.

Priced at $26,500, the Optima Hybrid adds to the extensive list of standard convenience features and stylish appointments found on the well-equipped Optima LX A/T trim with features such as: eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, dual zone automatic temperature control with rear vents, push-button start with smart key, SupervisionTM meter cluster with LCD display, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, one-touch automatic up/down on front windows, chrome interior door handles, glove box illumination, rear reading lamps, and fixed rear seats with ski pass-through. The Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS), standard on the Optima Hybrid, plays a pre-recorded engine sound during electric-only operation to help notify people outside the vehicle that it is approaching.

The Optima Hybrid is the first Kia vehicle to offer the company's proprietary UVO powered by Microsoft® hands-free, voice-activated infotainment and communications system which is paired with the AM/FM/CD/MP3/Sat audio system and features a rear-view camera, SIRIUS® Satellite Radio capabilities with three months complimentary service6, auxiliary and USB audio input jacks for connecting with MP3 players7 and Bluetooth®8 wireless technology connectivity with steering wheel-mounted controls. Based on Windows Embedded Auto Software, UVO is an easy-to-use hands-free solution that allows drivers and passengers to answer and place phone calls, receive and respond to SMS text messages, access music from a variety of media sources and create custom music experiences.

Consumers who select the Optima Hybrid with the available Hybrid Premium Technology Package, priced at $5,000, will enjoy additional comfort and convenience features, including: panoramic sunroof, unique 17-inch alloy wheel design, four-way power adjustable front passenger's seat, driver's seat memory, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and steering wheel, HID headlamps with automatic leveling, leatherette-wrapped center fascia, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with HomelinkTM and compass, a navigation system with back-up camera and SIRIUS TrafficTM9 , and an eight-speaker Infinity®10 audio system (these available features replace the UVO system).

Like all Kia vehicles, the 2011 Optima Hybrid is equipped with a high level of standard safety features, including six airbags11 (dual advanced front and front-seat mounted side as well as full-length side curtain), front active headrests, side-impact door beams, height-adjustable front seatbelts with pre-tensioners, three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Four-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a Traction Control System (TCS), a Brake Assist System (BAS) and Hill Assist Control (HAC) also are standard.

The 2011 Optima Hybrid is covered by KMA's warranty program, which offers unprecedented consumer protection. Included in this program are a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty and a five-year/100,000-mile anti-perforation warranty. A five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan also is part of the vehicle coverage.

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