2018 Kia Optima Hybrid

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MSRP: $25,995 - 35,210

2018 Kia Optima Hybrid Review

The 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid sits near the bottom of our midsize sedan rankings. There's a lot to like about this Kia, but it falls short of class rivals when it comes to performance.




Critics' Rating: 8.2
Performance: 7.7
Interior: 8.7
Safety: 10.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • User-friendly tech features
  • Excellent safety ratings
  • Plug-in hybrid version is very fuel-efficient
  • So-so fuel economy for a hybrid
  • Below-average trunk space in plug-in hybrid

Is the Kia Optima Hybrid a Good Car?

Yes, the Kia Optima Hybrid is a good car that’s easy to drive and has a comfortable ride. It's very fuel-efficient compared to other midsize cars, especially if you opt for the plug-in hybrid version. However, some rival hybrids still manage better gas mileage numbers. Inside, the Optima Hybrid has a plain design, but it's well-built and functional. This Kia has ample seating space for adult passengers and several appealing options, like a user-friendly infotainment system.

Should I Buy the Kia Optima Hybrid?

The Optima is a worthwhile choice, especially if you're set on a midsize hybrid. Still, it could use some improvements, which is why you may want to check out rivals like the Ford Fusion Hybrid or the Honda Accord Hybrid. The Fusion is a little cheaper than the Optima, while the Accord is more expensive but gets awesome fuel economy. 

Compare the Optima Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, and Accord Hybrid »

Should I Buy a New or Used Kia Optima Hybrid?

After a full redesign for the 2017 model year, there were no major changes to the Optima Hybrid for 2018. If you're open to driving a used car, you may want to consider an almost identical used 2017 model. You could save thousands of dollars with a model from the previous generation. The 2014, 2015, and 2016 Optima Hybrid are all basically identical to each other.

You can do more research by reading our reviews of the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid or the prior-generation 2016 Optima Hybrid. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page for savings and incentives on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Ford Fusion »
We Did the Research for You: 21 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank. This 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2017 and 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Kia Optima Hybrid Cost?

The Kia Optima Hybrid’s starting price is about $26,000. That’s more than the base price of most other midsize cars, but it’s below average for a midsize hybrid. The highest Optima Hybrid trim (the Optima Hybrid EX) starts at around $31,000, which is also less expensive than the top trims of other hybrids. The MSRP for the Optima Plug-in Hybrid starts at $35,210. You may be able to lower this by $4,919 if you are eligible for the available federal tax credit.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives and special offers on our Kia deals page.

Kia Optima Hybrid Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Kia Optima Hybrid or Ford Fusion Hybrid?

The Ford Fusion Hybrid undercuts the Optima Hybrid's starting price by a couple hundred dollars. Both of these cars have nicer interiors than most of their competitors, but their infotainment features are not created equal. The Ford's standard infotainment system has voice control and offers a smaller screen than the Kia's system, though you can opt for a better touch-screen system in the Fusion Hybrid. In terms of performance, the Fusion Hybrid boasts deft handling without sacrificing fuel economy. The Optima Hybrid, conversely, is more focused on comfort. If you prioritize the Fusion's sporty performance and lower starting price, it's the better buy. But if user-friendly infotainment ranks high on your list and you don't plan to buy a model beyond the base trim, pick the Optima.

Which Is Better: Kia Optima Hybrid or Honda Accord Hybrid?

The Honda Accord Hybrid is redesigned for 2018, and it’s based on the redesigned nonhybrid Accord. Honda's midsize sedan features user-friendly technology and two rows of spacious, comfortable seats. It’s a better choice than its Kia rival, especially considering its similar price tag.

Compare the Optima Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, and Accord Hybrid »

Optima Hybrid Interior

How Many People Does the Optima Hybrid Seat?

The Optima Hybrid seats five. Both rows of seats have a good amount of room. The front seats are comfortable, but the rear seats could use more support on longer trips.

Optima Hybrid and Car Seats

There are two full sets of LATCH car-seat connectors. The system is fairly easy to use, but the lower anchors are set a little deep in the seat.

Optima Hybrid Interior Quality

The Optima Hybrid has a functional cabin that’s well-organized, but it isn’t flashy. Plastics are mixed with high-quality materials, but nothing about this Kia feels low rent.

Optima Hybrid Cargo Space

This car has more than 13 cubic feet of cargo space, which is on the low side for the class. However, that's still enough room for about nine shopping bags. The trunk of the Optima Plug-In Hybrid is even smaller, at 9.9 cubic feet.

Optima Hybrid Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Standard features in the Optima Hybrid include dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a USB port, a six-speaker audio system, and the UVO infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Available features include a Harman Kardon premium audio system, a panoramic moonroof, and an upgraded UVO system with an 8-inch touch screen and navigation.

The UVO infotainment system has a sharp touch screen and is generally easy to use. Some of the menus are tough to find, however, and the navigation system responds slowly at times. Standard features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are nice touches; they are optional or unavailable in some competitors.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

Optima Hybrid Performance

Optima Hybrid Engine: About What You Expect From a Hybrid

The Optima Hybrid and plug-in hybrid each feature a four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. The hybrid puts out 192 horsepower, while the plug-in hybrid makes 202. Their on-road performance feels similar, and both have adequate power for most driving situations. In an unusual move, the Optima Hybrid features a six-speed automatic transmission; most hybrids feature a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

The Optima plug-in can drive up to 29 miles on electricity alone. The battery recharges in less than nine hours with a standard household outlet and less than three hours with a 240-volt outlet.

Optima Hybrid Gas Mileage: Best With The Plug-In Powertrain

The Optima Hybrid gets terrific fuel economy ratings for a midsize car, but it falls short of some rival hybrids’ ratings. This Kia gets 39 mpg in the city and 46 mpg on the highway. The plug-in hybrid gets an estimated 40 mpg combined under gasoline power and 103 mpg-equivalent under electric power.

You’ll spend about the same on gas driving the Optima Hybrid or Ford Fusion Hybrid, but choosing the Optima Plug-In Hybrid can save you about $200 a year in fuel costs over comparable non-plugin hybrids.

Optima Hybrid Ride and Handling: A Competent Cruiser

The Optima Hybrid handles fairly well and remains composed on winding roads. Many midsize cars are more athletic though. The Optima Hybrid’s main strength in terms of on-road performance is its smooth ride.

Read more about performance »

Optima Hybrid Reliability

Is the Kia Optima Hybrid Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2018 Optima Hybrid a predicted reliability rating of four out of five, which is above average.  

Kia Optima Hybrid Warranty

Kia covers the Optima Hybrid with a five-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty. Hybrid components are covered with a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty. These are excellent warranty terms and better than you’ll get with many other midsize cars.

Read more about reliability »

Optima Hybrid Safety

Optima Hybrid Crash Test Results

The 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid earns a five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It also earns a rating of Good (the highest possible) in every crash test performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning an IIHS Top Safety Pick designation.

Optima Hybrid Safety Features

The Optima Hybrid comes standard with a rearview camera. Available driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Read more about safety »

Which Kia Optima Hybrid Model Is Right for Me?

The Optima Hybrid comes in two trims: EX and Premium. The EX trim costs about $5,000 more than the base Premium trim. That extra money buys you leather upholstery, an improved sound system, and navigation. Unless you want these extra features, the Premium trim should suit you  just fine.

The Kia Optima plug-in hybrid is only available in the top EX trim.

Kia Optima Hybrid Premium

The Optima Hybrid Premium ($25,995) includes cloth seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, the UVO eServices infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, dual-zone automatic temperature control with rear vents, Bluetooth, push-button start with smart key, a drive mode system with Normal, Eco, and Sport modes, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and a 7-inch touch-screen color display with Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, and satellite radio. Additionally, you’ll get auxiliary and USB audio input jacks, as well as power-folding heated outside mirrors with one-touch triple turn signal indicators.

Available active safety features in the Premium trim include rear park assist, blind spot detection with lane change assist, and rear cross traffic alert. Some active safety features are available as part of a $1,795 Hybrid Convenience package. Other available items include rear air conditioning vents, a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with four-way lumbar support, and sound-insulating acoustic front door glass.

Kia Optima Hybrid EX

The Optima Hybrid EX ($30,990) adds leather seats, a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat with four-way power lumbar support, a six-way adjustable front passenger seat with a height adjuster, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, heated front seats and steering wheel, a surround-sound audio system with 10 speakers (including a subwoofer), and a navigation system with an 8-inch touch-screen color display, Sirius traffic, and an integrated rearview camera. You’ll also get a USB charger (center console, two ports), a rear 12-volt charger, acoustic front door windows, and an automatic windshield defog system.

Available features in the EX trim are numerous. They include lane departure warning, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, advanced smart cruise control, a 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat with two-way power lumbar, cooled front seats, and heated rear seats. In the EX trim, all active safety technology becomes available with the Technology package for $5,000.

The EX is also available as a plug-in hybrid, which has a starting price of $35,210. This model is capable of all-electric driving, but the features are the same otherwise.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives and special offers on our Kia deals page.

See 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid is a good car overall, but there are some areas where it could be improved. In the highly competitive midsize car class, that’s enough to earn you a middle-of-the-pack ranking, which is where the Optima Hybrid sits. Still, it deserves a look from midsize hybrid shoppers.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The South Korean automaker has rewritten its history books, with recent chapters featuring a long list of accolades, particularly of the best-in-class variety. The 2017 Optima Hybrid, however, does not fit the bill. In fact, against likeminded model-year competitors, Kia's version lands in the middle of the pack when it comes to EPA estimated fuel economy." -- New York Daily News (2017)
  • While it starts at an attractive $26,845 …, that's for a relatively sparsely equipped model without items such as power seats or blind-spot warning. A loaded Optima EX hybrid like the one we drove crests $37,000, which is nearly $6000 more than an equivalently equipped Optima EX with a 2.4-liter engine. That's a tough pill to swallow, especially when gas is cheap—a headwind that all automakers selling electrified vehicles are fighting right now. Beyond the price premium, however, the Optima hybrid demands few compromises compared with the standard model—so few that it's easy to forget you're driving a hybrid. With an impressive blend of practicality, refinement, and style, the Optima is a solid contender among mid-size hybrid sedans, particularly for those who don't look solely at the EPA numbers." -- Car and Driver (2017)
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