2017 Kia Optima Hybrid offers new powertrain with 10% better fuel economy

Article by Andrew Christian, on February 15, 2016

The enhanced 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), which comes with a new hybrid powertrain that aims to surpass the fuel economy of its predecessor by 10%, was launched at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show as one of Kia Motors America’s (KMA) EcoDynamics offerings.

2017 Optima Hybrid is equipped with the new driver assistance system, Eco-DAS, highlighting the car maker’s first use of Coasting Guide.

The purpose of the feature is to maximize fuel economy by instructing the driver about when to coast and brake through the instrument panel. The system has an icon that blinks for four seconds and gives off a one-time audible alert.

The body is made out of a number of high-tensile strength steel alloys, which provide more durable and stiffer chassis with over 50% Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) construction.

Furthermore, the engineers also used extensive hot-stamped components and structural adhesive to enhance NVH and structural rigidity. The new body structure of the HEV offers heightened ride safety and improves driving dynamics.

To deliver a mass of comprehensive driving assistance systems and convenience, the engineers incorporated an intelligent use of technology. The 2017 Optima Hybrid provides Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), which brings the car to a full stop to prevent a collision or reduce damage under certain conditions.

Other high-tech systems include the Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC), Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Front Collision Warning System (FCWS), and Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS). The new Optima Hybrid also offers optimized driving convenience with the hands-free trunk open feature, a wireless phone charger, smart key, and Surround View Monitoring System (SVM).

The state-of-the-art connectivity system with smartphone-projected navigation, UVO3, features UVO telematics. The technology also supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which allows the driver to access vehicle functions from a smartphone.

Optima Hybrid was also employed with an upgraded AVN 4.0 navigation system backed by the Harman/Kardon QuantumLogic Premium Surround Sound Audio System, which comprises the Clari-Fi technology (a patented music restoration system rebuilding audio signals lost in digital compression), 10 speakers, and a 630-watt digital amplifier.

Exterior Design

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid has aggressive styling that’s similar to that of the 2016 Optima Hybrid but it has distinctive styling elements that separate it from the latter. It also has the lowest coefficient drag in the segment of 0.24 Cd.

The grille automatically opens and closes at low and high speeds, improving the HEV’s aerodynamics while improving engine bay cooling. Other key modifications include a rear diffuser made to streamline airflow by covering the exhaust tip, a model-specific front air curtain, an aerodynamic alloy-wheel design, and a beveled rear bumper.

These features are completed with a special ‘EcoHybrid’ badge, modern LED lighting, and satin finish accent trim.

Interior Design

The new HEV comes with a larger and more comfortable cabin complemented by cutting-edge, functional features. Inspired by KMA’s exceptional saloons, the 2017 Optima Hybrid is built with its own model-specific instrument panel gauges. More soft-touch materials were used throughout the interior, accented with genuine stitching along the doors and dash.

The engineers designed a simplified driver-oriented HEV cabin with more harmonious and cleaner styling than the outgoing model. The 2017 Optima Hybrid’s wider center console and stronger horizontal plane offer more cabin space. With reduced functional buttons, the brand’s already-premium ergonomics is further enhanced.

The designers also focused on improving seat comfort. The 2017 Optima Hybrid was made with stiffer seat frame for lesser vibration, denser and more supportive foam in thigh-support sections, and more soft foam in the headrest and upper back.

In addition, the heated and ventilated front seats come with power adjustable features. The front passenger seat also has a height adjustable feature, which is only usually found in first-class models.

Powertrain

The new HEV boasts the same redesign as the conventional gas-powered model with a contemporary touch and improved efficiency and power. The engineers used a compact 2.0-liter GDI four-cylinder engine— estimated at 154 hp, replacing the predecessor’s 2.4-liter engine.

The core is complemented with a hybrid starter generator and a smooth-shifting six-speed transmission. For better and stronger off-the-line acceleration and power assistance, the traditional torque converter was replaced with a 38-kW electric motor and clutch. Moreover, the new HEV offers faster seamless energy flow between the EV and hybrid modes.

The vehicle’s total combined output is projected at 193 hp at 6,000 rpm. A new electric oil pump and a new electric water pump were also added under the hood to enhance the overall fuel economy.

The compact, lightweight, high-density lithium-polymer battery pack with a 13% capacity increase to 1.62 kWh that’s used to perfect the Optima Hybrid’s performance represents a more potent energy source.

The battery was placed underneath the trunk floor, saving cargo space. The new battery configuration offers a larger practical load area that permits a split-folding rear seat of 60-40.

Press Release

ALL-NEW KIA OPTIMA HYBRID UNVEILED AT 2016 CHICAGO AUTO SHOW

Kia Motors America (KMA) today unveiled the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid (HEV) at the Chicago Auto Show. The Optima HEV enjoys the same full redesign – inside and out – as the conventional gas-powered model, the all-new fourth-generation Optima sedan, bringing with it a new hybrid powertrain that targets a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy over the outgoing model. The enhanced HEV blends modern styling and a premium driving experience with an even more intense focus on efficiency and is being introduced under the Kia Motors EcoDynamics environmentally friendly sub-brand.

“Kia is pursuing a bold initiative to increase fuel efficiency by 25 percent across our entire model line-up by 2020, and new models like the Optima HEV and PHEV will be critical to realizing that vision,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, KMA. “The brand’s commitment to sustainability, coupled with our history of delivering premium amenities and value, has never been more evident than in these all-new hybrid vehicles, which are world-class examples of green engineering, advanced technology and design.”

Enhanced Hybrid Performance

Targeting a 10 percent increase in fuel economy, the Optima Hybrid replaces the previous generation’s 2.4-liter engine with an efficient and compact 2.0-liter GDI four cylinder – estimated at 154 horsepower – coupled with a hybrid starter generator and tied to an upgraded, smooth-shifting six-speed transmission. A 38 kW electric motor and clutch replaces the traditional torque converter to provide strong off-the-line acceleration and power assistance to the engine when necessary. Energy flow is fast and seamless between EV mode and hybrid mode. Total combined output for the Optima Hybrid is estimated at a robust 193 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. Also adding to the equation is a new electric water pump and a new electric oil pump, which help improve overall fuel economy.

Giving life to the electric motor is a more compact, lightweight, high-density lithium-polymer battery pack with a 13-percent increase in capacity to 1.62 kWh. With improved packaging, this more potent energy source now fits neatly underneath the trunk floor without encroaching into cargo space. The revised battery configuration results in a larger, more practical load area and allows the integration of 60/40 split-folding rear seats.

All-new Eco-DAS[1] (Driver Assistance System) features Kia’s first application of Coasting Guide. This feature aims at maximizing fuel economy by essentially coaching the driver on when to coast and brake via an icon in the Instrument Panel that blinks for four-seconds and sounds a one-time audible alert.

The Optima Hybrid features a uniquely engineered body that combines various high-tensile strength steel alloys, creating a stiffer, more durable chassis with more than 50 percent Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) construction. In addition, a significant increase in hot-stamped components and greater use of structural adhesive improves NVH and contributes to structural rigidity. This new body structure helps provide crash protection and better driving dynamics and is the foundation for a quieter ride.

Aerodynamic Form and Function

Although the new Hybrid boasts the same bold styling as the redesigned 2016 Optima, it offers distinctive design features and exterior elements that differentiate it from the gas-powered models in the Optima range, while also achieving a coefficient of drag that is among the lowest in the segment at 0.24 Cd. Featuring an active grille, which automatically opens and closes at high and low speeds, the Hybrid is able to improve aerodynamics while optimizing engine bay cooling. Numerous other styling differences include a model-specific front air curtain, a beveled rear bumper, a rear diffuser designed to streamline airflow by shrouding the exhaust tip, and an aerodynamic alloy-wheel design. These are complemented by modern LED lighting, satin finish accent trim and special ‘EcoHybrid’ badging.

Intelligent Technology

The new Optima Hybrid makes intelligent use of technology to deliver a host of comprehensive driver assistance systems and convenience features. The HEV now offers Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)[2],which, under appropriate conditions, will bring the vehicle to a complete stop to potentially avoid a collision or reduce damage. Other key driver assistance systems include Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC), Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) and Front Collision Warning System (FCWS)2.

To make life on the road easier and more enjoyable, the Optima Hybrid brings convenience offerings such as the Hands-free Trunk Open feature with Smart Key, a Wireless Phone Charger and Surround View Monitoring (SVM) to aid parking maneuvers.

Kia’s cutting-edge connectivity system with smartphone-projected navigation, UVO3[3], comes standard with UVO telematics, and is enhanced with Android[4] Auto™ and Apple[5] CarPlay®, which allow drivers to access a suite of core functions from their smartphones. There’s also an upgraded AVN 4.0 Navigation system combined withthe Harman/Kardon QuantumLogic™ Premium Surround Sound Audio System[6], which includes 10 speakers, Clari-Fi™[7] technology and a 630-watt digital amplifier. Clari-Fi is a patented music restoration technology that rebuilds audio signals that are lost in the digital compression process.

Refined Cabin

The Optima Hybrid’s passenger compartment is larger and more comfortable with an innovative and functional cabin that is well-appointed with class-up touches. Drawing inspiration from Kia’s premium sedans, the Optima Hybrid features its own model-specific instrument panel gauges and utilizes more soft-touch materials throughout. Obsessively crafted with an impressive attention to detail, the interior features real stitching along the dash and doors.

Overall, the driver-oriented cabin has been simplified with a cleaner, more unified design than the previous generation. A stronger horizontal plane and a wider center console help create a greater sense of space. By grouping and reducing the number of functional keys and buttons, Kia’s already-superior ergonomics are markedly improved.

The interior design team also paid particular attention to seat comfort with a stiffer seat frame that reduces vibration, as well as greater use of soft foam in the headrest and upper back, and denser, more supportive foam in thigh-support areas. For extra convenience, heated and ventilated front seats are available with power adjustable driver and front passenger seats. The 2017 Optima Hybrid also offers a height-adjustable front passenger seat, a feature normally found only in premium vehicles.

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