Looking Ahead: The Three Kia Models We Can’t Wait For

By Ben Levine | Posted in Kia in Miami on Monday, March 14th, 2016 at 10:24 am

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We spend a good amount of time discussing Kia’s current crop of vehicles, and for good reason. With 14 different models to choose from, it seems like there’s endless material to talk about!

However, we don’t always like staying in the present, and everybody gets a bit excited as we look towards the future. If you’re a fan of Kia’s vehicles, you’ll certainly understand this sentiment. The brand has several innovative vehicles hitting the market for the 2017 model year, each including the company’s notable hybrid engine. Of course, the engineers weren’t content with just releasing “another hybrid,” and their various style decisions should impact the segment for years to come.

Whether you’re pursuing a Kia in Miami or in Boston, the brand’s additions in 2017 will surely take the automotive world by storm. Let’s check out the three models that are coming down the pipeline…

2017 Niro

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Eco-friendly. Hybrid. Breathtaking design.

These are attributes you’d expect from a, say, 2030 Kia model. You certainly wouldn’t expect these to be characteristics of a car in 2017.

Incredibly, Kia has produced the “world’s first dedicated hybrid utility vehicle.” Car buyers won’t have to settle for another underwhelming hybrids, as the Kia Niro will feature a stylish exterior, unmatched drivability, and (of course) hybrid efficiency.

“The Niro hits the sweet spot by offering the best combination of outstanding mpg, an engaging driving experience, utility, and most importantly, a stunning design that doesn’t shout ‘hybrid,’” said Orth Hedrick, the vice president of product planning at KMA. “The subcompact CUV market continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments in the world, and the Niro offers a uniquely alluring yet practical package that consumers haven’t seen before.”

Utility vehicle owners have come to expect larger, more hulking rides. The Niro offers a unique design that’s sleek and fresh, and the brand didn’t compromise cargo room as they pursued a smaller body. This compacted body also influences how the vehicle operates, especially considering the assumed improvement to the aerodynamics.

With the inclusion of hybrid engineering, owners can expect unmatched fuel efficiency. The new 1.6-liter Kappa GDI engine is expected to deliver an incredible 50 mile per gallon fuel efficiency, and these extraordinary numbers can partly be attributed to the lightweight body and the Predictive-Energy Control and Coasting Guide. The 103 horsepower will be working alongside a smaller tractive motor, resulting in 146 horsepower and 195 pounds-feet of torque.

The unit is coupled with a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission that isn’t ordinarily featured in a hybrid, providing drivers with a one-of-a-kind driving experience.

2017 Optima Hybrid

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Available this summer, the 2017 Optima Hybrid is going to play a role in reestablishing the public’s perception of a high-efficiency sedan. In many hybrids, owners will find that the engineers clearly prioritized fuel economy… but they vicariously lacked on some of the vehicle’s other features.

The vehicle is expertly sculpted, resulting in a sporty (albeit still stunning) design. Considering the various styles choices on the new Optima, you may find that several admirers don’t even recognize that the car’s a hybrid! The refined interior only helps confirm this sentiment, as the cabin offers unexpected comfort and technology. The inclusion of a sporty grille in only icing on the cake!

Of course, even considering the brand’s apparent success with other aspects of the vehicle, we recognize that the engineers were still prioritizing fuel economy above all else. They certainly nailed it with their 2017 Optima Hybrid, as the two-liter GDI (gasoline direct-injection) engine is expected to offer a 10-percent improvement over the 2016 model.

“Kia is pursuing a bold initiative to increase fuel efficiency by 25 percent across our entire model line-up by 2020, and new models like the Optima HEV and PHEV will be critical to realizing that vision,” said Hedrick. “The brand’s commitment to sustainability, coupled with our history of delivering premium amenities and value, has never been more evident than in these all-new hybrid vehicles, which are world-class examples of green engineering, advanced technology and design.”

2017 Optima Plug-In Hybrid

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That’s right. Kia is not only going to be releasing a hybrid version of their Optima; drivers can also opt for the plug-in hybrid. Transitioning between EV and Hybrid technology, customers can expect an unmatched driving range from next year’s model.

The inclusion of the 9.8kWH battery will improve energy by more than 60 percent from previous models, and the unit will ultimately be able to deliver the equivalent of a 27 mile per gallon efficiency when operating solely on the EV capabilities. Kia’s website estimates that the engine will take about three hours to charge with a 240-volt charger and about nine hours with a 120-volt charger.

Similar to the other vehicles on this list, owners can also expect impressive styling and drivability. The features ordinarily found in the standard Optima will stick around, and despite the battery being positioned behind the rear seat and tire well, the trunk’s cargo room stays mostly intact.

Cross GT

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Now, we’re cheating a bit by including this vehicle on the list, as the Cross GT is solely a concept car for now. However, considering the brand’s commitment to producing luxurious hybrid rides, we wouldn’t be shocked if this vehicle eventually made its way to Kia dealerships.

The Cross GT features a unique “clamshell” design that’s unprecedented for the CUV segment. With LED lights included in the grille and a multi-paneled sky light, you could easily confuse the ride for a luxury vehicle.

The inside is even more remarkable, starting with the stunning almond-terra-colored leather-covered seats. American walnut wood makes up the instrument panel, and there’s 100-percent eco-friendly renewable wool found throughout the vehicle. The vehicle also offers an abundance of cargo room, including several storage compartments hidden throughout the cabin.

The crossover utility vehicle features a state-of-the-art 3.8-liter V6 engine, as well as an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive capabilities. When coupled with the electronic motor, drivers can expect the unit to pump out 400 horsepower (and an electric range of nearly 20 miles).

When the vehicle was initially unveiled in 2011, Kia president Peter Schreyer said that he expected the vehicle to revolutionize the segment.

“It beautifully illustrated to the world that the brand was ready to explore the possibility of perhaps one day offering a full-size rear-drive luxury saloon,” he explained. “The Cross GT, with its raised stance and large cargo area, allows us to envision the GT in the form of a full-size luxury crossover.”

 

As we stated, hybrid vehicles have a stigma of not being particularly powerful or attractive. Kia is trying to buck that generalization with their 2017 Niro, 2017 Optima Hybrid, and 2017 Optima Plug-In Hybrid. The trio offer incredible fuel economy, but they also deliver sufficient power and a number of comfort and entertainment features.

The brand’s dedication to evolving this segment is certainly clear, and we should continue to see more significant contributions in the coming years. Who knows, maybe that Cross GT will become a reality.