2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

Episode 3714
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

The euro-styled kia optima mid-size sedan has been quite a hit for the brand, and a favorite of ours here at Motorweek as well. But what most people may not realize is that the optima lineup includes a gasoline-electric hybrid. And for 2017, it gets a full redesign, encompassing all of the benefits of the optima’s new 4th generation chassis.

Kia has actually had a high mileage hybrid in the Optima lineup since 2011. And with the 4th generation of Kia’s midsizer kicking off last year, 2017 sees an all-new powertrain for this gasoline-electric. The new hybrid system consists of 2.0-liter I4, downsized from the previous gen’s 2.4-liter. But, there’s a bigger electric motor in place to aid it, 38-kW compared to last year’s 30-kW motor. Combined, horsepower is actually down from 206 to 192; but torque is much torquier, climbing from 195 lb-ft. to 271.  

Battery size increases from 1.4 to 1.6-kWh; and as before, it’s placed under the rear trunk floor, robbing a bit of storage space, though keeping the split/folding seatbacks in play. Capacity is 13.4 cubic-ft., compared to the base sedan’s 15.9. Thankfully, the transmission is still a 6-speed auto; and there’s been no change to a CVT. Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 39-City, 46-Highway, and 42-Combined; so our average of 41.7 miles-per-gallon on Regular was just about spot on. That makes for a very good Energy Impact Score, with use of just 7.8-barrels of oil per year while emitting just 3.5-tons of CO2. 

That’s a significant improvement over last gen for sure, but still short of many other hybrids out there. For those looking for more, a plug-in version with a larger battery and up to 27 miles of EV-only driving is on the way. As for daily use, the Optima hybrid makes some noises you wouldn’t hear in a typical petrol Optima, but otherwise operates with the same smooth, Euro-like demeanor. After an hour or two behind the wheel, it’s easy to forget you’re even in a hybrid. If you wish to be reminded, a new Eco-Driver Assistance System will coach you on how to get the most efficiency as possible, with prompts in the IP, as well as with audible alerts. With very good steering feel, this gen’s stiffer chassis, and the aforementioned transmission; this is one hybrid we truly enjoyed driving.

There’s good comfort in all seating positions and plenty of nice soft touch materials. EX trim comes with heated leather seats, heated steering wheel, surround sound, and navigation. Adding the Technology package will get you a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a host of safety systems including Autonomous Emergency Braking. The exterior differs little from base Optima. That’s a good thing as far as we’re concerned, as we feel the Optima is one of the best looking rides in the family sedan segment.

But, nothing is for free, as there’s always a price to pay. Here, it starts at $26,890 in Premium trim, or about a grand less than the stingier Toyota Camry Hybrid. Optima Hybrid in EX trim, at $31,885, is about 5-grand over a standard non-hybrid Optima. 

The 2017 Kia Optima may come up short when it comes to absolute fuel economy. But, much like the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, it offers handsome styling, and a traditional sedan feel, that many other modestly priced hybrids can’t match, plus, it adds a unique driving experience that’s clearly European in flavor. So, don’t look at the Optima Hybrid as the ultimate hyper-miler’s choice, but a more efficient option for those looking for a roomy, great looking, fine driving car.  

Specifications

  • Engine: 2.0-liter I4
  • Horsepower: 192
  • Torque: 271 lb-ft.
  • EPA: 39 mpg city / 46 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 7.8 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 3.5 tons/yr
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front

2024 Subaru Solterra

The Solterra Gets Subaru Into The EV Game

Episode 4339
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

You could say that Subaru is one of the more conservative brands out there. So, it’s no surprise it took them a little longer than most to venture into pure EV territory. But now that they’ve staked a claim with this Solterra, it’s time for us to see if Subaru buyers should plug in.

The Subaru Solterra is indeed the brand’s first full battery-electric vehicle; and while it took partnering with Toyota to make it happen, as we’ve seen with the BRZ and GR86 sport coupes, that partnership can lead to some great things.

So, we’ll start there; the Solterra’s counterpart is the Toyota bZ4X, and they do share most powertrain elements, specs, and features; but Subaru has done a few things to establish some unique vibes for their brand. That starts with the drivetrain, as all-wheel drive is standard here as in most Subarus, and in similar tradition, power won’t overwhelm you, it’s more safe and familiar feeling than overpowering as some EVs can be. Called StarDrive, this Subaru’s dual-motor setup rates 215 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque. Subaru loves to tout that their drivers are second only to Jeep owners when it comes to venturing off pavement, so capability is a must.

2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Front
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front
2024 Subaru Solterra Headlight
2024 Subaru Solterra Front Emblem
2024 Subaru Solterra Wheel
2024 Subaru Solterra Profile
2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Rear
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Rear
2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Detail
2024 Subaru Solterra Badge
2024 Subaru Solterra Charge Port
2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Front2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front2024 Subaru Solterra Headlight2024 Subaru Solterra Front Emblem2024 Subaru Solterra Wheel2024 Subaru Solterra Profile2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Rear2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Rear2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Detail2024 Subaru Solterra Badge2024 Subaru Solterra Charge Port

We did find Solterra as competent as every other Subaru. Their X-Mode has been programmed to work seamlessly with the electric motors, and its 8.3 inches of ground clearance is higher than the bZ4X; plus, you can use Grip Control to moderate speeds and maximize traction.

While most new EVs seem to be hovering around 300 miles of range, max here in the Solterra from its 72.8-kWh battery pack is 227 miles, 222 here in Touring trim. Our results were much less than that, on pace for just 172 miles in our driving loop. But that may be a fluke since we managed 210+ in our bZ4X test.

Only 100-kW max for DC fast charging. But even though it has only been on the market for a year, they’ve already cut down charging times for ‘24 models. An upgraded battery conditioning system, needs 35 minutes for an 80% charge. Subaru always seems to come out on the right side of being cool while remaining authentic, and the Solterra’s styling works, as does its beefier roof rack for ’24 which now holds up to 700 lbs. for tents and the like. Touring trim comes with some great looking 20-inch alloy wheels and there’s lots of body protection, but they did go a little overboard with all of the EV badges everywhere.

We found ride quality to be quite good, and handling spunkier than expected.

In addition to being a good-looking small SUV, it’s a highly functional one too with plenty of room for 5, durable materials, and a bridge-type center console with lots of storage space underneath, though there is no traditional glove box. Subaru also claims it was designed to be dog-friendly, so that’s a plus too. It does have the roomy feel of an Outback, and rear cargo capacity is pretty close, too, at 29.0 cubic-feet.

We found ride quality to be quite good, and handling spunkier than expected. It really shined in the handling course at our Mason-Dixon test track; the EV low center of gravity giving it a very planted feel through the cones. There was minimal body roll and great all-wheel-drive grip; though when it came to us getting a grip on the steering wheel. Well, it’s an oddly shaped steering wheel that took some getting used to. It’s another thing that separates it from the bZ4X, though it seems a little bit like just being different for the sake of being different.

2024 Subaru Solterra Dashboard
2024 Subaru Solterra Instrument Cluster
2024 Subaru Solterra Central Display
2024 Subaru Solterra Shifter
2024 Subaru Solterra Front Seat
2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Seat
2024 Subaru Solterra Trunk
2024 Subaru Solterra Dashboard2024 Subaru Solterra Instrument Cluster2024 Subaru Solterra Central Display2024 Subaru Solterra Shifter2024 Subaru Solterra Front Seat2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Seat2024 Subaru Solterra Trunk

On the other hand, while not insanely fast like some EVs, there was good punch off the line; enough to get us to 60 in 6.2 seconds. And rather than rolling back the power, the Solterra kept it consistent the whole way down the track. We finished the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 93 mph. There wasn’t much feel coming through the brake pedal, but panic braking stops were fade-free with an average amount of nose dive; our stops from 60 averaged 120 feet.

Using 33-kWh of electricity per 100-miles, the Solterra earns a good efficiency rating. Pricing starts at $46,340 for the base Premium, and tops out with Touring at $53,340, with Limited in between.

Being the rugged and lovable outdoor types, Subaru owners have proven to be willing to sacrifice certain things for the good of the environment they spend so much time enjoying. Whether that will translate to them going all-in on the 2024 Solterra remains to be seen. It’s no surprise Subaru has finally gone all-electric, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise they’ve entered the EV game conservatively. Something tells us Subaru owners wouldn’t have it any other way.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Motor Setup: Dual Motor
  • Battery Size: 72.8-kWh
  • Horsepower: 215
  • Torque: 249 lb-ft
  • EPA Range: 222 miles
  • 0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.8 seconds at 93 mph
  • 60-0 Braking: 120 feet (avg)
  • MW Test Loop: 172 miles