2017 KIA OPTIMA HYBRID & PLUG IN HYBRID: Kia chose the 2016 Chicago Auto Show to unveiled two new hybrid editions to the fourth generation Optima lineup for model year 2017. Both the Optima Hybrid and Plug In Hybrid blend cutting-edge technologies with advanced design. The Hybrid features a compact 154-horsepower 2.0-liter GDI four cylinder engine that’s 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-hp. 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. The all-new 2017 Optima Plug In Hybrid utilizes Kia’s highly efficient 154-hp 2.0-liter “Nu” four-cylinder gasoline direct injection engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Electric power is produced by a transmission-mounted 50 kW motor, which is 42 percent more powerful than in the previous Optima Hybrid, Overall engine efficiency is due to the high voltage electric oil pump that replaces the mechanical oil pump and low voltage electric pump found in the outgoing Optima Hybrid. Another upgrade is that the transmission cooling changes from natural air to water. Kia expects the Optima Plug In Hybrid to achieve an estimated 27-miles in full EV mode, and up to 800 miles of total driving range. A new driver assistance system features Kia’s Coasting Guide that essentially coaches 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 revised battery configuration results in a larger, more practical load area and allows the integration of 60/40 split-folding rear seats.