Although it may be hard to tell from its design and styling, the Kia Optima mid-size sedan recently received a complete redesign.

And for the 2017 model year, the Optima Hybrid model gets the same upgrades as the gasoline versions launched for 2016.

Unveiled last month at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show, the 2016 Kia Optima Hybrid uses the new Optima body, as well as a similar powertrain to the latest generation of the related Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Kia Optima Hybrid - Preview and Drive Report

Like the Sonata, the Optima also gets a plug-in hybrid variant for the first time.

Both models will be important in meeting Kia's goal of increasing fuel economy across its lineup 25 percent by 2020.

Kia and parent Hyundai also hope to seize the number two slot in green cars by 2025.

2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid, 2016 Chicago Auto Show

2017 Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid, 2016 Chicago Auto Show

It should be off to a good start with the Optima Hybrid and its new chassis. We've found gasoline versions to be quieter and to have better handling than the previous-generation Optima.

Kia is also aiming for a 10-percent fuel-economy improvement over the 2016 Optima Hybrid, which is rated at 36 mpg city, 40 highway (38 mpg combined) by the EPA.

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To do that, the new Optima Hybrid employs the same powertrain that debuted on the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid for the 2016 model year.

It includes a 154-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission, working with a 38-kilowatt electric motor and 1.62-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

The Optima Plug-In Hybrid uses essentially the same powertrain, but with a 50-kW motor and 9.8-kWh battery pack.

That larger pack will allow for 27 miles of electric-only range, Kia says.

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The Optima Plug-In Hybrid will feature an "EV" mode for electric-only driving, while the Optima Hybrid gets both a "Hybrid Mode" to preserve the battery pack's state of charge and a "Charging Mode" that prioritizes recharging the pack.

Both models look very similar to non-hybrid Optimas, which in turn don't differ dramatically in appearance from previous-generation models.

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

2017 Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid

The Optima Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid do get active grille shutters and other aerodynamic enhancements, which lower drag coefficient to 0.24.

On the inside, the hybrids' are virtually identical to other Optima models, with a range of tech features including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity.

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The Optima Plug-In Hybrid will only be offered in EX trim, but we expect the Optima Hybrid to be offered in more than one trim level.

Both models will be built in South Korea, and go on sale this fall.


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