Nearly 400,000 hybrid electric vehicles were sold in the US in 2015, and more than 4 million hybrids between 1999 and April 2016. Hybrids are popular vehicles and its why Kia decided to turn one of their strongest sellers into an eco-efficient hybrid electric vehicle (HEV).

The 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid EX shares aerodynamic aesthetics with the new Optima, with a wide front grille. At higher speeds, the grille opens and closes to increase aerodynamics.

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On the inside the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid EX has been fitted with a Stone Beige interior, soft-touch materials and metallic accents. Comfortable leather seats feature 12-way power-adjustability for the driver including lumbar support. Passengers have standard 6-way adjustability with an option for 10-way.

The tester model came with a Harman Kardon QuantumLogic surround sound system with 10 speakers and Clari-Fi, a music restoration technology. Streaming audio via Bluetooth sounded clear and crisp, great for casual listening or blaring it until ones ears popped. UVO eServices, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and 3 months of Sirius XM radio are standard, as well. Even out in the passes, as cell service and data faded, Sirius XM still played true.

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The Optima had the Hybrid EX Technology Package, a $5,000 option, including many of the items that people desire in new vehicles; making it a no-brainer to add.

The Technology Package upgrades headlights to LED and have high-beam assist, adds a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, heated rear seats and sunshades, and more. Autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, automatic cruise control, rear cross traffic and parking assist systems, along with lane keeping assists are also parts of the Hybrid EX Technology Package.

While it has EcoHybrid badging all around to remind you how environmentally friendly it is, Kia has ensured that the Optima Hybrid not sluggish. Put your foot down and it zips off to the horizon with a good clip, creating a Snow White Pearl blur with 17-inch alloy wheels.

Both trims of Optima Hybrid have the same powertrain. The 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid EX’s push-start ignition engages the 154 hp, 2.0L 4-cylinder GDI engine featuring dual overhead cams and continuously variable valve timing. Connected to the engine is an electric motor capable of 50 horseower, bringing the total output up to 192 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque.

It has an all-EV mode limited to 62 miles per hour, allowing for full-EV operation on the highway. However, it’s more fun to put your foot down and unleash all the fuel and electronically created power.

Gripping the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knobs, a driver has two options: fun for a few hundred miles or eco-friendly road tripping for over 600 miles. Life is full of tough decisions.

Connected to the powerhouse is an automatic transmission and front-wheel drive layout. No decisions there.

A base Optima Hybrid Premium starts at an MSRP of $25,995, while the EX model driven here starts at an MSRP of $30,995. Including the Technology package and special Snow White Pearl paint ($395), the tester model came out to an MSRP of $37,995.

The 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid EX is a no-nonsense hybrid offering technology, comfort and range for a competitive price. To learn more about this fun sedan, please visit www.Kia.com.

 

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Deanna Isaacs is a syndicated automotive columnist who graduated from the University of Washington's Communication department. She enjoys sports cars, two-seaters and long drives where she can annoy the husband.

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