Kia has introduced two new electrified versions of its Optima sedan at the Chicago Auto Show, both of which are slated for production as 2017 model year vehicles. The first is the 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid, which is claimed to improve fuel economy by 10 percent over the current Optima Hybrid, while an all-new Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid will be the first PHEV for the Korean automaker.

Both hybrids are based on the current fourth-generation Optima's design inside and out. The Optima Hybrid sees a replacement of the previous-generation's 2.4-liter engine with a new 2.0-liter gasoline direct injection (GDI) four-cylinder that outputs about 154 hp (115 kW). A hybrid starter-generator and six-speed automatic transmission complete the powertrain. The motor replaces the traditional torque converter in the transmission, providing 38 kW (51 hp) of power, making for a total combined powertrain output of 193 hp (144 kW) at 6,000 rpm.

To further improve efficiency, the Optima Hybrid's engine has been fitted with electric oil and water pumps. These are traditionally run from mechanical engine power and moving to electric saves mechanical horsepower, improving overall fuel efficiency and power output.

Additionally, the battery pack for the new hybrid is more compact and lightweight. This lithium-polymer battery pack provides power for the electric motor and is charged through regenerative braking and the engine's excess power output. It's rated at 1.62 kWh, a 13 percent increase in capacity over the outgoing battery in the previous-generation Optima Hybrid. The battery also means that the Optima Hybrid can now feature a 60/40 split-fold rear seat.

In comparison, the 2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid is all-new for the brand. Debuting in Chicago, the PHEV is physically identical to the gasoline and hybrid versions of the Optima with a few exceptions in detail, including the instrument cluster and exterior badging. It will be available in one trim level and will be built in South Korea. It should be in showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The Optima PHEV's drivetrain utilizes the same 2.0L GDI found in the hybrid model as well as the same six-speed automatic transmission and electric pumps. A transmission-mounted 67 hp (50 kW) motor provides additional propulsion as well as EV-only propulsion for the car. This overall powertrain should improve fuel efficiency over the previous-generation Optima Hybrid by about 20 percent.

The battery is a 9.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer pack that provides up to 27 miles (43.5 km) of driving in all-electric mode. The pack is located under the rear seat and in the wheel well in order to preserve cargo space in the trunk and can be fully charged in about three hours via a 240V Level 2 charger or in under nine hours from a standard US household plug (120V).

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