Kia has just unveiled a plug-in-hybrid version of its attractive Optima Sportswagon, and all we see is another opportunity to campaign for this handsome station wagon to come to the United States. After all, the Optima sedan is already sold here in plug-in-hybrid form, and this new wagon version only increases its practicality and visual appeal. Who doesn’t want a 40-plus-mpg station wagon?
As you’d expect, the Sportswagon’s gasoline-electric drivetrain is identical to the sedan’s, combining a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor that sources power from a 11.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. In the U.S., the plug-in-hybrid sedan version is rated to go 29 miles on electric power alone before the gas engine kicks in. Where the wagon version differs, of course, is aft of the C-pillar, where its large cargo area holds a whole lot more stuff than the sedan and its restricted 10-cubic-foot trunk. Kia said it has packaged the battery under the cargo floor to minimize intrusion into the cargo area, and the rear seats fold flat just as in the standard Optima wagon.
We realize it’s probably a flight of fancy to think that Kia would ever bring this electrified station wagon to our shores, given the state of both the wagon and plug-in-hybrid markets on our shores. But we still hold out some hope that Kia will listen to our pleas: Help save the wagons with attractive Euro-market longroofs like this one.