We analyse the open boundary partially asymmetric exclusion process with smoothly varying internal hopping rates in the infinite-size, mean-field limit. The mean-field equations for particle densities are written in terms of Ricatti equations with the steady-state current J as a parameter. These equations are solved both analytically and numerically. Upon imposing the boundary conditions set by the injection and extraction rates, the currents J are found self-consistently. We find a number of cases where analytic solutions can be found exactly or approximated. Results for J from asymptotic analyses for slowly varying hopping rates agree extremely well with those from extensive Monte Carlo simulations, suggesting that mean-field currents asymptotically approach the exact currents in the hydrodynamic limit, as the hopping rates vary slowly over the lattice. If the forward hopping rate is greater than or less than the backward hopping rate throughout the entire chain, the three standard steady-state phases are preserved. Our analysis reveals the sensitivity of the current to the relative phase between the forward and backward hopping rate functions.