2017 Kia Optima PHEV Review

Driven: Kia Optima PHEV Review

After a week-long test drive of the Kia Optima PHEV, here is what I thought about this efficient hybrid cruiser.

What is the Kia Optima all About?

Personally, I’m a big fan of the Optima. This has to be the most well-equipped and cost-effective car available to purchase on the roads today. Also adding in the plugin hybrid technology makes it one of the most efficient cars available.

The Optima we are testing is the PHEV and Kia only sells it in one trim level. However, it comes packed with features such as 17 inch alloy wheels, an 8 inch touchscreen sat nav and a Smart Key. There is also a Harman Kardon 10 speaker sound system, DAB radio, Blindspot Detection and even a wireless phone charger. The list just goes on.

Kia Optima PHEV

The external aesthetic improvements to the car look fantastic. In particular, the sheer length of the car gives it a great presence. The new active grille gives the face of the car some class and the 17 inch alloy wheels fill the wheel arches very nicely. You will notice the car does have a few eco touches. It lets people know we are being friendly to the planet, but not too much to be going over the top.

A 2.0 litre petrol engine and an electric motor power the Kia Optima. Together they create 202 bhp and 375 Nm of torque. The power to the front wheels comes from a 6-speed automatic gearbox. This means the car will get from 0 to 60 mph in 9.1 seconds and do a top speed of 119 mph. Most importantly, it is able to return a combined economy rating of 176 mpg. Using its 9.8 kWh battery alone the car can do 33 miles in all electric mode.

How Does it Drive?

I mentioned the car comes with a Smart Key, which allows you to enter the car with the key safely in your pocket. It’s a great bit of technology that is becoming very common on most premium cars. It is great to see it included on the Optima.

Kia Optima PHEV

Being a hybrid doesn’t make the car more complicated to drive. It is as simple as an automatic but provides a superior driving experience. The primary gains from being a hybrid car are that the car will return greater miles per gallon and lower CO2 on average. Yet other benefits include incredible levels of refinement. When the engine isn’t running there is of course no engine sound and no vibration coming from the car. This creates a spooky though utterly refined driving experience.

Kia Optima PHEV

Driving the Kia Optima for the first time you do notice the controls are all fairly lightweight to use, which makes the car quite refreshing and a lot easier to drive. The 6-speed automatic gearbox is matched well to the hybrid configuration; the car seems to have loads of usable power from even low down the rev range, because of the torque fill from the electric motor. The shifts from the gearbox are well timed and happen quickly and smoothly.

The power supplied by the car is perfect. Even when driving four people and a boot full of luggage around the car won’t feel sluggish. The hybrid system can be a lot more effective than you think. In city driving you spend a lot of time at a stand still, so you are waiting or moving only a couple of meters at a time. It just doesn’t make sense to run an engine the entire time. This is where the electric motor really comes into its own with saving fuel. This car has some especially great engineering behind it.

What is it Like Inside?

When I first got into the Kia Optima, it did take me some time to get an understanding of where everything was and how it all worked. But after a while I soon learnt what all the buttons and screens were for. After a week with the car I was happy with how to use everything and was quite comfortable with the layout. The build quality of the interior was pretty good and it’s certainly a nice place to be.

Of the many things I was impressed with about the Optima, the one that stood out most was the incredible amount of rear legroom available in the back this car. I’m shocked while saying it but it is almost Mercedes S class level of room in the back of his car. Or least it feels that way, which is a huge compliment.

Other things that also impressed me were the 8 inch touchscreen, which was just fantastic, and I couldn’t believe the car has an integrated wireless phone charger. Other features included are the Smart Park Assist System, which was incredible to watch in action, and lastly, the Harmon Kardon premium sound system. It has 10 speakers creating 590 w of power. This system sounds better than some I’ve heard that have cost thousands to tick on the options lists.

The Experience

The Kia Optima PHEV provides a perfect, efficient drive with lots more to boast about. The car has huge amounts of passenger space, lots of boot space and effortless economy.

Kia Optima PHEV

Finally, the hybrid efficiencies in the car are incredible and it really feels futuristic to drive this car around. There aren’t many cars that will give you this kind of experience, let alone any as practical, efficient and as well priced as this one.


During our review, the Kia Optima PHEV has proven to be super practical, super efficient, and a super driver-friendly car. This Optima is one of a few hybrid cars that have been well suited to provide a premium driving experience without compromises. So if you want an everyday saloon with a focus on high MPG, the Optima PHEV could be the one for you.

Video Highlights


2017 Kia Optima PHEV
  • Price: £31,495
  • Engine: 2.0-Litre Petrol
  • Power: 154 bhp
  • Torque: 205 Nm
  • Transmission: 6 Speed Auto
  • 0-62mph: 9.1 Seconds
  • Top speed: 119 mph
  • Weight: 1,780kg
  • Economy combined: 176 mpg
  • CO2: 0 g/km


Author: Paul Hadley