2014 Kia Optima Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid was new.


Performance: 7.5

Automotive critics say that, though it accelerates adequately, the 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid doesn’t handle with as much composure or transition as smoothly between gas and electric power as its hybrid rivals. It also gets lower fuel economy than most of its hybrid rivals.

  • "… Optima is reasonably engaging to drive, though its handling is not as polished as the best in this class." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "So it has some guts if you need them and when driven in wide-open spaces away from the cut-and-thrust driving conditions of the city, many of its irritations simply dissolve away. Still, there's clearly room for improvement before the Optima Hybrid exhibits the level of powertrain refinement found in the Fusion, Altima or Camry hybrids." -- Edmunds (2011)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that produce a combined 199 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. The base 2014 Optima Hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 36/40 mpg city/highway, which is good for a midsize car but lower than most hybrid competitors’ ratings.

Reviewers write that the Optima Hybrid has reasonable power for daily driving. However, they complain that the transition between electric and gas power isn’t very smooth, especially in situations where the switch happens frequently, such as city driving. Critics are also disappointed with the Optima Hybrid’s lackluster fuel economy.

  • "For all of its advantages, the Optima Hybrid falls short in terms of overall fuel economy. Competitors like the Ford Fusion Hybrid carry significantly more impressive EPA mileage ratings." -- Left Lane News
  • "The standard 2.4-liter engine feels peppy in most driving situations. After a modest delay from a stop, the turbocharged engine accelerates much like a V6. Hybrids fall somewhere in between, though closer to the standard engine that the turbo." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "Electric-only operation is possible, just be incredibly gentle with the throttle. The engine and electric motor interplay does lead to some unpleasant surging, but the fuel-economy benefit may outweigh such gripes." -- Car and Driver (2012)
  • "The … Kia Optima Hybrid's power delivery and transmission also get tripped up by the kind of in-and-out throttle action that's common in urban driving." -- Edmunds (2011)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers report that the 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid has poised handling, with controlled body lean during cornering. Some critics say the Optima Hybrid’s steering is accurate, but others wish it felt more responsive. Automotive journalists write that the Optima Hybrid’s ride is comfortable for the most part, though they note that it doesn't ride quite as smoothly as the non-hybrid Optima.

  • "The Optima corners well; body roll and lean only become noticeable during the most demanding maneuvers. Aided by the nicely weighted steering and electronic stability control, we pushed the Optima to its limit without getting ourselves into too much trouble." -- AutoTrader
  • "Out on the road, the Optima is competent in the corners, but chassis is primarily tuned for ride comfort - as is the case with most of its competition - and the steering is numb and slightly imprecise." -- Left Lane News
  • "EX models are smooth and composed overall, with minor pattering over road imperfections. Hybrids ride similarly, though their heavier curb weight allows for larger bumps to be felt more." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The steering is quick, weighty, and precise, the ride taut but not brittle." -- Car and Driver (2011)

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