2017 Kia Optima Hybrid
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.
- 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 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Bringing Supercar Performance To The Street…American Style
What happens when you let enthusiasts and engineers worry less about tradition and allow them to do what they do best? You get cars like this Chevrolet Corvette Z06. What happens when GM let’s us borrow one for a few days? That’s what we’re about to find out!
While the Z06 package first became an option for the Chevrolet Corvette back in 1963, it wasn’t until the C5 that it describe the ultimate track-focused ‘Vette. And while since then every Z06 has gotten more extreme, if we were plotting things out on a graph, this is where the line of performance progression goes from a steady incline to almost vertical. Yes, the latest C8 Z06 is all that.
It starts with a brand new LT6 5.5-liter DOHC V8 that outputs 670-horsepower and delivers 460 lb-ft. of torque. It sounds great too, the very aggressive nature of its flat-plane crank design has it sounding, and feeling like it’s trying to shake its way out of the engine bay unless you unleash some of its furry.
This dual-cammer featured a dry-sump design from the get-go and is more racing engine than souped-up small block, being developed originally for the C8.R race car.
It made short work of Roebling Road Raceway’s long front straight, able to reach 160 by the end of it. With Hellcats no longer rolling off the assembly line, this is easily our new favorite V8.
But, as you can imagine, Chevy has done much more than just plop a bigger motor into its rear-midship engine bay, which was easier to do since they didn’t have to worry about anyone seeing over it. They’ve addressed just about every part of the car to ensure it puts that power to best use for coming out of corners like few other cars on the street.
That includes upgrades for the short/long arm double wishbone suspension setup that can be further enhanced with an available Z07 Performance Package that adds more aggressive tuning for Magnetic Ride Control, and Michelin Sport Cup 2R tires. Which can be mounted on 20 and 21-inch carbon fiber wheels with carbon ceramic brakes nestled behind.
It all translated into more grip than a semi’s worth of industrial strength Velcro through Roebling’s 9-turns.
With Hellcats no longer rolling off the assembly line, this is easily our new favorite V8.
Like most Corvettes, the Z06 can be as wild or mild of an experience as you care to make it but will most likely be the fastest car to show up at most track days. Yet, the same magnetic dampers that void all body roll on the track, provide an almost plush ride quality for the drive home, though not quite as plush as the standard Corvette.
We’re struggling to find something non-fan boy to say; sure the 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox doesn’t deliver shifts with the brutality of some exotics, but really, they’re just as fast, and the shifts are much smoother.
Believe it or not, almost all the body is unique. So, rather than just tacking on some fender flares, Chevy made the entire car wider to cover the 345 rear tires, yet keep the same uniform look in place.
The optional Carbon Fiber Aero Package adds a front splitter, rocker extensions, front dive planes, and a huge rear wing. We’re not sure if the multi-level nature of that rear wing was done for functional or aesthetic reasons, but it doesn’t block your rearview, and that is much appreciated.
We always talk about torque being more important than horsepower when it comes to acceleration, and the Z06 works with almost 200 fewer lb-ft. of torque than horsepower, but you sure wouldn’t know it when you mash the throttle.
Easy to use programmable launch control allows you to dial in your preferred RPM for launching; we found 4,500 was just about perfect for Roebling’s front straight, allowing for just a tiny bit of slip before rocketing us to 60 on a 40 degree day in just 2.6-seconds.
Power continues to pour on hard as the engine quickly hits its 8,600 RPM redline, and gear changes happen often. The sound inside the cabin in intense, and when the ¼-mile came to an end in 10.7-seconds at 130 miles-per-hour, it felt like it was just getting started.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are a low 12-City, 19-Highway, and 14-Combined.
For the Z06 there are 3 LZ pricing points to land on, starting at $114,395; but you can go with the top-of-the-line Z06, add 50-grand worth of options, and still come out half the price of anything you can compare it to.
Call us home teamers all you want, but America’s only exotic does it yet again, not only is it the best Corvette ever, but it is also easily one of the greatest American cars of all time, arriving at a particularly poignant time culturally as we mourn the potential loss of internal combustion engines altogether. So, come for the spectacular engine and stay for the complete performance package, and experience, that is the Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
- Engine: 5.5-liter V8
- Horsepower: 670
- 0-60 mph: 2.6 seconds
- EPA: 12 City | 19 Highway | 14 Combined
- Transmission: 8-speed dual clutch auto
- Torque: 460 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 10.7-seconds at 130 mph