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2016 Kia Optima Hybrid: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader July 2016

In years past, getting a hybrid car meant making a compromise somewhere else: You'd likely have to settle for unusual styling, small sizing or a high price tag. That's changed quite a bit in recent years, and nowhere is it more evident than in the 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid.

Why do we say that? Because the Optima Hybrid combines the attractive shape and excellent driving characteristics of the standard Kia Optima with the strong fuel economy of a traditional hybrid car. As an added benefit, you still get traditional family-sedan interior room and cargo space, and you don't pay a huge premium for the ability to own a hybrid. Essentially, it's the best of all worlds.

Maybe the only drawback to the 2016 Optima Hybrid is that it's about to be redesigned. Kia will soon come out with a totally new 2017 model based on the newly redesigned Optima, which will render this one immediately outdated. But that also means shoppers interested in the current Optima Hybrid will likely get a great deal, with dealers looking to clear out their lots before the all-new model arrives.

What's New for 2016?

The Optima Hybrid is unchanged for 2016, pending a redesign next year.

What We Like

Handsome styling; good gas mileage; reasonable pricing; good interior room

What We Don't

Fuel economy isn't quite as high as some rivals; redesign coming next year

How Much?

$27,000-$33,000

Fuel Economy

The front-wheel-drive Optima Hybrid comes with one engine: a 2.4-liter hybrid 4-cylinder that's mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Optima Hybrid makes 199 horsepower and 235 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy stands at 36 miles per gallon in the city and 40 mpg on the highway in the base model, while EX version see a slight decline to 35 mpg city/39 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid is offered in two trim levels: the base-level Optima Hybrid and an upscale EX version.

The Optima Hybrid ($27,000) comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless access with push-button starting, dual-zone automatic climate control, a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack for music, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6-speaker sound system and a power driver's seat.

Step up to the EX ($33,000), and you'll get an impressive array of equipment that includes additional sound-deadening equipment, LED running lights, a backup camera, Kia's UVO infotainment system with an 8-in touchscreen, 17-in alloy wheels, xenon headlights, leather upholstery, a power passenger's seat, heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, driver memory settings and an upgraded 8-speaker Infinity sound system.

Several of the EX's standard features are optional on the base model, while options on the EX include a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and a White Interior package with white leather upholstery.

Safety

The 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid comes standard with anti-lock brakes, traction control and side-curtain airbags. Safety options include a backup camera, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors.

In crash testing carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Optima Hybrid earned a perfect 5-star overall rating. The sedan also earned the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick rating, falling just short of Top Safety Pick+ due to the lack of a forward-collision warning or prevention system -- features that will arrive with next year's redesign.

Behind the Wheel

On the road, the Optima Hybrid offers a more precise, sportier driving experience than virtually all hybrid midsize-sedan rivals, but it's still no sports car. Handling is sharp, but not impressively immediate or direct, while acceleration is strong and linear but not exactly sports-car fast. Still, if you're looking to combine performance, practicality and hybrid technology, the Optima Hybrid is about as good as it gets.

As for road noise and ride comfort, the Optima Hybrid is near the middle of the midsize-sedan pack. It certainly isn't loud or uncomfortable, but we don't find it uniquely comfortable, either. Interior room is generous, and while the Optima Hybrid's trunk is slightly compromised by its hybrid battery, the sedan still offers a lot of cargo space.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Honda Accord Hybrid -- The Accord Hybrid boasts truly impressive gas mileage, along with a great driving experience and a roomy cabin. It might be our favorite midsize sedan.

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid -- The Optima Hybrid's Hyundai mechanical twin offers different styling and a driving experience that's tailored more toward luxury than performance.

2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid -- The Camry Hybrid is one of our favorite models in the segment, as it boasts recently sharpened styling, lots of technology and excellent gas mileage.

Used Lexus ES 300h -- If you're looking for a little more luxury with your hybrid sedan, you might want to consider the Lexus ES 300h. Prices are high, though, so check out a used or certified pre-owned model.

Autotrader's Advice

To us, the best value in the 2016 Kia Optima range is a base model equipped with the optional Convenience package, which adds a backup camera and Kia's UVO infotainment system. It's a great deal among hybrid midsize sedans, and probably an even greater deal this year as the newly redesigned 2017 Optima Hybrid gets closer to launching.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Kia Optima Hybrid: New Car Review - Autotrader