Kia Prices Optima Hybrid at $26,500

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.

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  • indigo

    The Kia Optima is no match for my $17,588 Insight -II that usually delivers 50 MPG.

  • Nelson Lu

    Indigo, that would be something to brag about if the Insight had the passenger capacity of the Optima, the comfort, or the power. It fails on all three of those levels.

  • Anonymous

    totally unimpressed by the 35/40

  • Anonymous

    only if resale value of kia was anything near tolerable, i would choose either optima or sonata hybrid over toyota prius any day. In terms of design and power, cant really beat the price.

  • simon@syd

    I really have doubts about their line about city / country driving mileage. I think the greatest advantage of hybrids is the very fact that they are so good in city conditions. I think they’re whistling in the wind there.

  • indigo

    With gas going up a nickel a day, 35 MPG isn’t all that good. Truth be told, I wish I was getting 100 MPG instead of 50 MPG.

  • Mr. Fusion

    Nice looking body and wheel design!

    And it’s not light blue!

  • Anonymous

    This is how it compares to the non-hybrid model: city +38%, highway +18%.

    If it’s all about highest mpg of course you can wait for the Toyota iQ hybrid… But really all different cars.

    Unfortunately one downside that Kia didn’t improve upon the competition is that the rear seats still don’t fold (pass through only).

  • Eric

    Those wheels look like they were designed in the 1980s

  • usbseawolf2000

    “P2” describes Infiniti hybrid with one motor and two clutches.

    Both Kia and Hyundai hybrids have two motors and one clutch. “P1” is more appropriate.

  • wrightmercy

    you are right.

  • Mr. Fusion

    Eric: Some of the best wheel designs came from the 80’s!

    Wheels are like shoes, they must go with the outfit to work.
    You wouldn’t want to put on a pair of track shoes with your suit, or dress shoes with your gym shorts.

    Wheels should reflect the lines of the car and be the right size and finish. The Kia’s contrasting shapes mimic the grill and body accents. I think they work well.

    I can’t stand old muscle cars wearing 20 inch wheels with 35 series tires. Might as well wear high heels to the gym.

    Favorite wheel designs:

    Mid 80’s Trans Am (Slots)
    Mid 90’s M3 (Soccer Ball)

  • Mr. Fusion

    Ooh, forgot the 80’s Toyota MR2 wheels…the squarish boxy looking ones. Perfect fit for that car…because it was boxy itself.

  • priusbob

    the more hybrids out there the better… Kia is looking like a good option especially when they come in competitively priced.

    50’s not bad, That’s about what I get average on my 2010 prius… current mpg readeing is 60, but that’s probably a true 57mpg…

    Warm weather is the biggest help….

  • Anonymous

    i expect hybrid cars will produce at least 40/45 mpg. Lest than that, they can call “HYBRID”.

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm, does it come with at least a space saver spare tire?

    According to – ‘Hyundai Elantra leaves me flat’:
    “… I’ve had many flat tires before. In years past, I’ve had several in a day when driving for photography. They were always a 10-minute fix, with a little dirt, sweat, and satisfaction along the way. Not this time. Today, it was a four-hour project. The Elantra has a cost- and weight-saving repair kit in lieu of a spare tire.

    [It eventually made the author to have the car towed to a dealer and costed a total of four hours.]
    The dealership staff reasoned that it was omitted to enable the car to hit the magical 40 mpg highway figure. The replacement tire cost $131 and the repair kit fluid was a painful $94. (Mind you, a can of Fix-A-Flat is just $6.) …”

  • Mia

    Really? This mileage passes for Hybrid? Our 1992 Paseo must be a super hybrid cause it kicks this car’s butt.

  • Anonymous

    The Paseo is a small car close to Corolla/Civic size. This is larger midsize sedan similar to Camry.
    Second these numbers are EPA and in real-world you certainly can beat them (although I doubt you can beat city mpg). These numbers do beat the Camry Hybrid so I don’t see why these are bad numbers.

  • mikechga

    Hybrid means it’s not all electric, and it’s not all gas. You dweebs saying hybrid means a particular mpg need to excuse yourselves from the conversation.
    I, personally, don’t want to drive a Prius because I don’t want people thinking I am a “Prius Driver”. “My mpg has decreased from 34.45 to 34.33 can somebody take a look at that?”
    I want to drive a Hybrid that has some style and some room and still is smart and efficient. The numbers will get better as the engineering catches up, but for now I think Kia/Hyundai have put together a pretty strong package.