A lot more mileage, for starters.
My recent week in the all-new, 2017 Kia Optima PHEV offered up a sublime blend of sound automotive basics and top-level plug-in hybrid technology.
Kia’s Optima PHEV stretches the wallet-saving numbers to the limit. A 2-liter, four-cylinder gas engine and a strong 9.8 kilowatt-hour, lithium-ion polymer battery pack combine to give you the equivalent of 103 miles per gallon. Gasoline alone nets you 40 mpg.
Electronic conversions are tricky, but rest assured that the power package delivers around 200 horsepower at its max. And you can motor 29 miles in all-electric mode, given sane driving habits.
Total driving range: Around 600 miles or thereabouts.
Needless to say, the gas-electric pairing is seamless, and from your cockpit seat, you can monitor a host of hybrid functions.
Please be advised that the starting price for all this is $35,210, and my ride was ornately dressed up to push the sticker’s bottom line to a hefty $41,750.
My options were pleasing – a panoramic sunroof, a blind spot-detection system and extensive LED lighting inside and out were among them – but the standard package is pretty nice as well.
The automatic offerings include a good navigation system with an eight-inch touchscreen, a primo Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system and a heated leather steering wheel. It's downright luxurious on some levels.
The exterior looks smooth and sporty, with my ride looking particularly handsome on 17-inch alloy wheels.
For all its gas-electric technology, response was instant and robust, when asked. Steering was spot-on perfect, with just the right amount of firmness coming to my hands on the steering wheel.
As in all Optimas, you get a wide range of high-tech safety features. Traction control, electronic stability control and vehicle stability management systems were among the oh-so-secure perks built into the tester.
All in all, this Optima is a most formidable product. Its mix of technology, generous comfort/convenience features and old-school driving charms is a delight.