The regenerative brakes feel unpredictable, catching high on one stop, low on another, and issuing some disconcerting pulsation most of the time. The Kia’s performance under full acceleration is also less than optimal. When you floor the accelerator, you experience a delay of more than a second before the combined torque of the electric motor and gas engine cut in with such a rush that the rock hard Kumho Solus KH25s tires (215/55/R17) chirp in protest. This bit of hesitation followed by exhibitionism is the last thing you need when pulling out to pass.
The Optima Hybrid is close to being a tremendous value. If the powertrain engineering team manages to tame the crudity of the drivetrain in transitioning from gas to electric modes, then this Kia would instantly become a best in class value. As it stands now, however, its unnerving foibles would make me opt for the same car with the straight 2.4 liter gas engine, enhanced by turbocharging to produce a healthy 274hp.
2011 KIA OPTIMA HYBRID:
- ENGINE: 2.4 liter, 4 cylinder hybrid engine with permanent magnet synchronous electric motor
- HORSEPOWER: 166hp @ 6000 rpm
- TORQUE: 154 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm
- ELECTRIC MOTOR: Interior-permanent magnet synchronous motor, max 270 Volts DC
- HORSEPOWER: 40hp @ 1400 – 6000 rpm
- TORQUE: 151 lb-ft @ – 1400 rpm
- SYSTEM PERFORMANCE COMBINED: 206hp @ 6000 rpm, 195 lb-ft
- TRANSMISSION: 6-speed electronic automatic without torque converter
- FUEL CONSUMPTION: 35 MPG City/40 MPG Highway
- PRICE AS TESTED: $32,250
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