Kia Motors America announced today that its first hybrid, the 2011 Optima Hybrid, will be priced at $26,500. The Optima Hybrid, with an expected rating of 35 miles per gallon in the city and 40 on the highway, goes on sale in June.
The gas-electric Optima shares its hybrid system with the Hyundai Sonata, which surprisingly carries a lower based MSRP of $25,800. The full range of Optima trim levels are priced between $18,995 and $25,995, while the Sonata trims vary—at a slightly higher price—between $19,395 and $27,245. Yet, Kia priced the hybrid Optima $700 higher than the Sonata Hybrid.
The higher price tag could be explained by the Optima Hybrid’s list of standard equipment, which includes a rear-mounted backup camera, rear spoiler, auto-down front windows, a cooled glovebox, compass and Kia’s infotainment system. All Optima Hybrids also offer a unique front grille design, 16-inch alloy wheel design, fog lamps, heated outside mirrors, front and rear lower bumpers and side sills and LED tail lamp design.
Nonetheless, the Optima Hybrid beats the price of Ford Fusion—which offers similar fuel economy at 41/36—by about two grand. It matches the base MSRP of the Toyota Camry Hybrid, which is notably less efficient at 33 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway.
The Optima and Sonata Hybrids are among the new wave of so-called “P2” hybrids that use a parallel two-clutch approach to could provide 95 percent of the fuel efficiency benefits of an expensive two-motor system (used by Toyota and Ford), but at cost reductions of one-third or more. Hyundai says the Sonata Hybrid can travel up to 75 mph purely on electricity. It also means better efficiency on the highway, rather than the city. Hyundai and Kia also believe that matching the hybrid system to a six-speed automatic transmission provides a more engaging driving experience than hybrids using continuously variably transmissions.
“With a starting price under $27,000, the Optima Hybrid provides fuel-conscious shoppers with an outstanding value proposition by being priced below nearly all midsize hybrid competitors and delivering class-leading fuel economy along with head-turning style and advanced technologies,” said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO, KMA and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.