How Long Do Kia Optima Hybrids Last? (12 Important Facts)

The Kia Optima was launched in the US in 2001, and the first Optima Hybrid was released in 2011 as part of the third generation rollout.

It was renamed the Kia K5 for its fifth generation and the hybrid option was also dropped.

A Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) variant of the Kia K5 has already been released in Korea, so we might see Kia K5 Hybrids landing on our shores soon. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Kia Optima Hybrid’s average lifespan.

Here is the short answer to how long the Kia Optima Hybrid lasts:

The Kia Optima Hybrid has proven to be fairly reliable over its past two generations. Based on the reviews and data we’ve gathered, we estimate that Kia Optima Hybrids have an average lifespan of 200,000 – 300,000 miles or 13 – 20 years if you drive an average of 15,000 miles per year.

How Many Miles Can You Expect from a Kia Optima Hybrid?

The oldest Kia Optima Hybrids on the road today are just a bit over 10 years old now. 

On used car websites like Car Gurus and AutoTrader, you can find some models with odometer readings of 200,000 miles and still going strong, and the car should have no trouble passing the 100k mark.

Most Kia Optima Hybrids will be able to last 200,000 – 300,000 miles before repair costs get too expensive and outweigh the value of the vehicle.

The Hybrid battery should be able to last up to 200,000 miles, possibly longer, and a replacement shouldn’t cost more than a few thousand dollars.

Gas-driven Optimas have proven they can even hit 300,000 miles and due to the Hybrid powertrain taking the strain off the internal combustion engine, there is every reason to believe the Hybrid models will be equally durable.

Keep in mind, how long your Optima lasts will ultimately depend on how well it’s looked after, failure to carry out routine maintenance will significantly shorten the lifespan of the car, as will aggressive driving habits.

Brand new Kias come with the following warranties as standard:

  • 5-year/60,000-mile Basic Warranty
  • 10-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Warranty
  • 10-year/100,000-mile Hybrid Powertrain Warranty
  • 5-year/100,000-mile Anti-perforation Warranty

However, if you’re buying a used Kia Optima Hybrid, it will only come with a much shorter 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Only the original owner can take advantage of the 10-year/100,000-mile warranty. The hybrid powertrain warranty stays the same though.

Common Problems of the Kia Optima Hybrid

We’ve checked out a couple of different databases and Kia forums to find common issues and weak spots for the Kia Optima Hybrid.

Engine Problems

The third-generation Kia Optima used the infamous Hyundai-Kia Theta II engine, which was also used in the first generation of the Optima Hybrid, 

It’s not uncommon for these Theta II engines to completely seize up when they reach around 70,000 to 120,000 miles.

Engine failures are more common with non-hybrid models and Kia has offered lifetime warranties for affected vehicles. 

Unfortunately, similar failures with the hybrid variants are not unheard of, and these hybrid models are not included in the recall campaigns or extended warranty.

Engine failures are still covered by the powertrain warranty, but if you’re not the original owner of the vehicle, then you’re probably already way past the warranty period if you’re driving an older model.

The good news is that the fourth-generation Kia Optima, or the second generation of the Optima Hybrid, has moved away from the original Theta II design and uses the ‘Nu’ series of engines.

Hybrid System Failure

Many Kia Optima Hybrid owners have reported experiencing issues with the car going into ‘limp mode’ and the dash showing a ‘Hybrid System Warning’

The most common fix for this is to replace the hybrid battery safety fuse, which was originally rated for 125 amps, with a 150 amp fuse.

If you haven’t experienced this issue yet, then it’s a good precaution to swap the fuse yourself to avoid any further issues.

What is High Mileage for a Kia Optima Hybrid?

A Kia Optima Hybrid with 100,000 miles is considered a high mileage vehicle. When it comes to the first generation Kia Optima Hybrid, we would even lower it down to the 60,000-mile mark due to the widely reported engine issues.

The second generation Kia Optima Hybrid, which was sold from 2015 to 2020, is a much safer buy since it doesn’t use the Theta II engine which is plagued with reports of engine failures across the various models that it was used in.

Nonetheless, at 100,000 miles, any car will suffer from regular wear and tear and will require more maintenance sooner. Issues with the suspension, A/C system, seals, gaskets, hoses and belts are more likely to show up at higher mileages.

In most states, the 100,000 mile hybrid powertrain warranty will also be close to expiring — unless you live in a CARB state that offers a 150,000-mile warranty for hybrids and EVs.

But Kias, in general, can be had for really great deals when bought used.

Before purchasing an Optima Hybrid, make sure the car has been properly maintained and the owner can provide evidence of this and have a mechanic who is familiar with hybrids to take a look at it first.

2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

How Long Does the Kia Optima Hybrid Last Compared to its Rivals?

In this section, we’ll compare the Optima Hybrid to its competitors.

Kia Optima Hybrid vs. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The Kia Optima Hybrid and the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid are basically the same car underneath. 

They both use the same engines, transmissions and hybrid powertrains, but differ in exterior and interior styling, as well as standard features.

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid can last 200,000 – 300,000 mile or 13 – 20 years just like the Kia Optima Hybrid.

  • RepairPal gave the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata the same reliability rating of 4/5 stars.
  • Both vehicles cost roughly the same in yearly maintenance with the Hyundai Sonata costing $458 per year compared to the Kia Optima’s $471 per year.
  • Kelley Blue Book’s consumer rating index gave the Sonata Hybrid a rating of 3.8/5 for reliability while the Kia Optima got a fairly similar 4/5 stars.
  • Edmunds consumer reviews gave the 2020 Sonata Hybrid an overall score of 4.6/5 while the 2020 Optima Hybrid only got a 4/5.
  • JD Power gave the Hyundai Sonata an 80/100 for Quality and Reliability while the Kia Optima got a slightly higher rating of 83/100.

When it comes to value and affordability, you can’t go wrong with either vehicle.

The Kia Optima Hybrid usually comes in at a slightly lower price point whether you’re looking at used or brand new examples.

The Optima also tends to have better standard features compared to its Hyundai-branded cousin. 

But as far as reliability is concerned, both vehicles are pretty much the same.

Kia Optima Hybrid vs. Toyota Camry Hybrid

The Toyota Camry has built a reputation for being one of the most reliable vehicles ever made.

The Camry Hybrid also has the same reputation for reliability and has been sold for much longer than the Optima Hybrid.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid is capable of lasting 300,000 – 500,000 miles or 20+ years with only basic maintenance, which is much longer than what the Optima Hybrid can muster.

  • RepairPal gave the Toyota Camry a 4/5 for reliability which is the same as Kia Optima’s rating.
  • The Toyota Camry is much cheaper to maintain overall and costs only $388 per year on average compared to the Kia Optima’s average of $471.
  • Kelley Blue Book’s consumer rating index gave the 2020 Camry Hybrid and the 2020 Optima Hybrid similar ratings for reliability with both getting 4/5 stars. The Camry is more popular with over 200 reviews while the Optima only has 6.
  • Edmunds consumer reviews gave the 2020 Camry Hybrid an overall rating of 4.4/5 while the 2020 Optima Hybrid got a slightly lower 4/5.
  • JD Power gave the Toyota Camry and Kia Optima similar ratings for Quality and Reliability with the Camry getting 82/100 while the Optima got 83/100.

Toyota is the leader in hybrid technology and sales so the Camry definitely has the upper hand over the Optima Hybrid.

This comes at a price though and the Optima Hybrid definitely presents a much better value, especially since both vehicles have very similar reliability ratings 

The Camry Hybrid does have a much better reputation overall and you’re likely to experience fewer problems with it as both vehicles approach the 10-year mark.

You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Toyota Camry Hybrids Last?

Kia Optima Hybrid vs. Honda Accord Hybrid

The Honda Accord Hybrid is another tough competitor for the Kia Optima Hybrid.

Honda has been making a hybrid version of the Accord since 2005. On top of that, Honda and the Accord are known for their legendary reliability.

The Accord Hybrid can easily last 250,000 – 350,000 miles or 15 – 17 years which is a bit higher than the Optima Hybrid’s expected lifespan.

  • RepairPal gave the Honda Accord a slightly higher 4.5/5 rating for reliability compared to the Kia Optima’s 4/5.
  • The Honda Accord has slightly lower upkeep at $400 per year compared to the Optima’s $471.
  • According to Kelley Blue Book’s consumer rating index, the 2020 Accord Hybrid received 4.5/5 for reliability while the 2020 Optima Hybrid got a slightly lower 4/5.
  • Edmunds gave the 2020 Accord Hybrid a higher overall rating of 4.3/5 compared to the 2020 Optima Hybrid’s rating of 4/5.
  • JD Power gave both vehicles similar scores for Quality and Reliability with the Honda Accord getting 82/100 while the Kia Optima got 83/100.

Looking at the reliability ratings, the Accord Hybrid only has a slight edge over the Optima Hybrid.

But we predict that the Honda Accord Hybrid is going to hold up much better compared to a similarly aged Optima Hybrid — simply because of Honda’s stellar build quality. 

But as far as price is concerned, the Kia Optima is going to be much cheaper to buy compared to a similarly specced Accord.

Comparison Chart

Optima HybridSonata HybridCamry HybridAccord Hybrid
RepairPal Reliability Rating*4/54/54/54.5/5
RepairPal Annual Repair Average*$471$458$388$400
KBB Reliability Rating4/53.8/54/54.5/5
Edmunds4/54.6/54.4/54.3/5
JD Power*83/10080/10082/10082/100
Expected Lifespan (miles)200k – 300k200k – 300k300k – 500k250k – 350k
Expected Lifespan (years)13+13+17+15+

* Ratings for entire model range (not specific to hybrid models)

Is the Kia Optima Hybrid Reliable?

The Kia Optima Hybrid is a fairly reliable vehicle especially if you exclude the first generation models that were affected by engine failures.

Most owners have few complaints with their first generation Optima Hybrids as long as their engines are replaced within warranty.

But since Kia is basically putting in the same engine in these warrantied vehicles, they’re bound to have similar problems in the future.

The second generation Kia Optima Hybrid has much better reliability overall because it uses the newer ‘Nu’ family of engines. 

Here is more proof of the Optima Hybrid’s reliability:

  • Despite the Optima’s Theta II engine issues, RepairPal still gave it a 4/5 reliability rating and ranks it 8th out of 24 midsize cars for reliability. 
  • Owners on Kelley Blue Book seem to be quite happy with their later generation Kia Optima Hybrids and have given their vehicle a very respectable reliability rating of 4/5.
  • JD Power gave the 2020 Kia Optima Hybrid an 83/100 for Quality and Reliability which is on par with its counterparts from Toyota and Honda.

Reliability Compared to Other Midsize Cars

ModelReliability 
Honda Accord4.5 / 5.0
Mitsubishi Galant4.5 / 5.0
Toyota Camry4.0 / 5.0
Toyota Prius V4.0 / 5.0
Hyundai Sonata4.0 / 5.0
Mazda64.0 / 5.0
Chevrolet Malibu Limited4.0 / 5.0
Kia Optima4.0 / 5.0
Chevrolet Malibu4.0 / 5.0
Toyota Prius4.0 / 5.0
Nissan Altima4.0 / 5.0
Chrysler 2004.0 / 5.0
Buick Regal4.0 / 5.0
Honda Crosstour4.0 / 5.0
Buick LaCrosse4.0 / 5.0
Subaru Legacy4.0 / 5.0
Volkswagen Passat4.0 / 5.0
Ford Fusion4.0 / 5.0
Dodge Challenger3.5 / 5.0
Ford Mustang3.5 / 5.0
Chevrolet Camaro3.5 / 5.0
Honda Accord Crosstour3.5 / 5.0
Chevrolet Corvette3.0 / 5.0
Volkswagen CC2.5 / 5.0
Avg. Midsize Car4.0

The Best and Worst Years for the Kia Optima Hybrid

In this section, we’ll take a look at which model years to stay away from and which ones are really safe choices.

Worst Model Year

According to the CarComplaints website, the 2013 Kia Optima has had the most complaints so far. Despite this, the 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid is considered the worst model year due to the larger number of complaints for engine problems.

This is not surprising since the first-generation Optima Hybrid uses the same Theta II engine design that was subjected to a widespread recall.

Complaints seem to taper off quite significantly starting with the 2014 model year, and especially for 2016 and newer Optima Hybrids.

Best Model Year

The 2020 Kia Optima Hybrid, which is also its last model year, is the best model year so far.

The 2020 model, as well as the 2019 model, has not logged any issues so far on CarComplaints.

2020 is also the year that the Kia Optima Hybrid and the PHEV variant started featuring various driver assists, LED fog lights, custom interior ambient lighting, and wireless phone charging as standard features.

Related: 15 Best & Worst Kia Optima Years (With Pictures)

Model Year and Number of Complaints

Here is the total number of complaints for every model year of the Optima Hybrid as reported on the CarComplaints website.

Model YearNo. of Complaints
20200
20190
20182
20172
20160
20157
20145
201326
201215
20117

What About Recalls for the Optima Hybrid?

The Kia Optima Hybrid has had a total of 9 recalls so far.

This is a pretty small number considering it’s been sold for exactly 10 years. 

But the Kia Optima Hybrid isn’t included in the recall campaign for the Theta II engines used in the non-hybrid models — although some Optima Hybrids have suffered from the same engine failures as the non-hybrid Optimas.

You can always check if your Kia Optima Hybrid has been subjected to a recall campaign by entering your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the Kia recall site or the NHTSA recall database.

It is also important to note that recalls are manufacturing faults repaired at no charge to the consumer.

  • 2020 Kia Optima Hybrid: 0
  • 2019 Kia Optima Hybrid: 1
  • 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid: 2
  • 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid: 1
  • 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid: 0
  • 2015 Kia Optima Hybrid: 0
  • 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid: 0
  • 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid: 1
  • 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid: 2
  • 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid: 2

Kia Optima Hybrid Model Year List

Event though the Kia Optima has been produced since the beginning of the 21st century, a hybrid version was only released ten years later and after two generations in 2011. 

The Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) variant of the Kia Optima was added in 2017 as part of the fourth generation lineup.

First Generation (2011 – 2015):

  • 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid
  • 2012 Kia Optima Hybrid
  • 2013 Kia Optima Hybrid
  • 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid
  • 2015 Kia Optima Hybrid

Second Generation (2016 – 2020):

  • 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid
  • 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid
  • 2018 Kia Optima Hybrid
  • 2019 Kia Optima Hybrid
  • 2020 Kia Optima Hybrid
2017 Kia Optima Hybrid

Is the Kia Optima Hybrid Expensive to Maintain?

The Kia Optima has been a fairly reliable vehicle overall throughout its production run and shouldn’t cost too much to keep on the road. According to RepairPal, the Kia Optima is fairly cheap to own and only costs an average of $471 per year in maintenance and repairs.

However, it’s important to keep in mind the possibility of engine failures in the first generation Optima Hybrid which will cost several thousand dollars to fix out of warranty.

If you’d rather not worry about a potential engine replacement, then the second generation Optima Hybrid is a much smarter buy.

Parts and repair costs for the Optima Hybrid should be similar to Japanese brands like Toyota and Honda.

ModelAvg. Annual 
Repair Cost
Frequency of
Unscheduled Repairs
(per year)
Probability of
Severe Repairs
Honda Accord$4000.39%
Mitsubishi Galant$4480.110%
Toyota Camry$3880.311%
Toyota Prius V$4370.59%
Hyundai Sonata$4580.311%
Mazda6$4810.49%
Chevrolet Malibu Limited$4480.212%
Kia Optima$4710.212%
Chevrolet Malibu$5320.311%
Toyota Prius$4080.511%
Nissan Altima$4830.312%
Chrysler 200$5490.312%
Buick Regal$5630.212%
Honda Crosstour$5200.79%
Buick LaCrosse$5690.312%
Subaru Legacy$5630.312%
Volkswagen Passat$6390.59%
Ford Fusion$5810.312%
Dodge Challenger$6500.214%
Ford Mustang$7090.214%
Chevrolet Camaro$5850.217%
Honda Accord Crosstour$4930.813%
Chevrolet Corvette$7370.322%
Volkswagen CC$8801.412%
Avg. Midsize Car$5260.312%

How Long Do the Brakes Last?

The Kia Optima Hybrid’s brake pads can last over 100,000 miles per set before they’ll need to be replaced.

The Optima Hybrid uses regenerative braking which extends the lifespan of the brakes quite significantly. 

Regenerative braking charges the battery and slows down the vehicle at the same time whenever you take your foot off the accelerator so you don’t need to use the brakes as much.

  • The front pads tend to wear down faster so you’ll probably have to replace them sooner than the rears. 
  • The brake rotors could also get rusted out relatively quickly especially if you live in rust-prone areas. Some cars might need replacement brake rotors well before 100,000 miles.

How Long Do the Tires Last?

The Optima Hybrid’s tires should be able to last around 40,000 to 50,000 miles or roughly 3 to 5 years with normal use.

The Optima Hybrid is a bit lighter than a lot of compact SUVs which results in less tread wear.

Here are a couple of tips that will help you preserve the life of your tires:

  • Rotate tires every 5,000 miles to ensure even wear.
  • If you drive on rough roads or regularly launch the car and slam on the brakes, your tires will take more of a beating.
  • Check your tire pressure every few weeks to make sure they’re at the correct tire pressure.
  • Check your wheel alignment every 6 months.

How Long Do the Transmissions Last?

The Kia Optima Hybrid uses a traditional 6-speed automatic which should last well over 200,000 miles.

Traditional automatics are considered more reliable and are much less finicky than newer CVTs or dual-clutch transmissions.

Transmission issues are not very common with the Optima Hybrid, although we’ve seen a couple of owners reporting that they’ve had to replace their transmission during the warranty period and way before their car had 100,000 miles.

How Long Will the Optima Hybrid’s Electric Motors Last?

The Optima Hybrid’s electric motors and powertrain should last at least 300,000 – 500,000 miles. 

Electric motors need less maintenance and are generally more reliable than internal combustion engines. You’re more likely to need a major engine or transmission repair before the motors start acting up due to age.

How Long Do the Spark Plugs Last?

The Kia Optima Hybrid needs new spark plugs every 105,000 miles or every 7 years, whichever comes first.

You may also need new spark plugs sooner if they look too worn out or fouled up during the car’s regular inspection 

How Long Do Kia Optima Hybrid Batteries Last?

The Optima Hybrid’s batteries should be able to last up to 200,000 miles. 

We haven’t seen very many reports of people needing to replace their Kia Optima’s hybrid batteries, which leads us to believe that it’s been fairly reliable so far.

The Optima Hybrid’s high-voltage battery comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile warranty in case of any premature failures.

Batteries degrade with age as well as from extended use, so any hybrid battery that’s 10 years or more won’t perform anywhere close to its original design specifications.

If you do have to replace the hybrid battery out of pocket, you’ll likely be able to get aftermarket replacements that cost much less than what a dealership charges very easily.

What About Insurance Costs?

According to Insuraviz’s estimates, the Kia Optima costs an average of $1,528 per year or roughly $127 per month to insure. 

Insurance costs can vary from person to person, so be sure to shop around to find the best possible deal for your Optima Hybrid.

Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Kia Optima Hybrid

  • Practice smooth and safe driving habits.
  • Keep up to date with factory-recommended maintenance.
  • Use quality parts and fluids.
  • Keep on top of repairs to prevent them from developing into larger problems.
  • Regularly wash your Optima Hybrid to remove dirt and grime, as well as to protect the paint and undercarriage from rust.
  • Keep your Optima stored in a garage to help protect it from extreme heat and cold.
  • Read the owner’s manual to learn the location of important components, what your SUV needs and in what quantities, and to understand the symbols and dashboard warning lights.

Sources

https://www.caranddriver.com/kia/optima

https://repairpal.com/reliability/kia/optima

https://www.kbb.com/kia/optima-hybrid/

https://www.edmunds.com/kia/optima-hybrid/2020/review/

https://www.jdpower.com/cars/2020/kia/optima

https://www.carcomplaints.com/Kia/Optima_Hybrid/

https://insuraviz.com/vehicles/kia/kia-optima-insurance/

Author:

  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...

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