Thanks to the technologically advanced gasoline direct-injection (GDI) engine in the Optima, along with rather tall gear ratios with either transmission, fuel economy is great. EPA ratings are right up at the top of the class—at 24 mpg city, 34 highway with the automatic. The manual transmission does 35 mpg highway, while the turbocharged engine will get a surprisingly good 22/34.
With the base engine and automatic, on a 160-mile Southern California driving route that included mostly high-speed freeways and mountainous two-laners, we saw our trip-computer average approach 25 mpg. An Eco mode, plus mindful driving, dials up softer throttle response and earlier shifts, among other things, and can improve fuel economy by up to seven percent, Kia says.
The 2011-2013 Optima Hybrid is one of a set of vehicles found to have overstated fuel-economy numbers. Kia initially submitted figures of 35/40 mpg and 37 mpg combined to the EPA, which allows automakers to self-certify fuel economy. On a confirmation check of several vehicles, the EPA found the Optima Hybrid's actual tested fuel economy to be 34/39 mpg or 36 mpg combined. Owners can register with Kia to receive reimbursement for the gas consumed above and beyond expected levels; more details are found at KiaMPGInfo.com.