Alphanumerics strike back.
In December of 2019, Motor1.com joined a small group of US-based media in Seoul, South Korea, to get the first taste of the new Kia K5, known in North America as the Optima. You can read all about that adventure here. What we didn’t mention in that piece was that Kia issued a survey asking for feedback on the car. Opinions were mostly positive, aside from one point: to a person, every one of us said calling the US-market car “K5” would be a mistake. So naturally, it seems Kia ignored us.
According to an EPA listing, first reported by our friends at Motor Trend (who were also on the December drive), a 2021 Kia K5 will be available with all-wheel drive, a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, and an estimated 26 miles per gallon city, 34 highway, and 29 combined. We know the Optima will have a 1.6-liter engine, and we’ve reported all-wheel drive will be available. Even in our first drive, we estimated fuel economy figures near the official EPA ratings. Those figures certainly match what we expect of the 2021 Optima, lending credence to the theory that Kia will rechristen its midsizer.
While renaming the Optima strikes us as a mistake, it doesn’t change the fact that the Optima is an impressive sedan that should appeal to American consumers. Smart technology and a pleasant driving experience are solid positives, but the overall interior quality and handsome exterior will do just as much to help this sedan find success whatever Kia ends up calling it.
Korea’s line of alphanumeric badges is well established in Korea. In addition to the K5, there’s the K3, K7, and K9 (the Forte, Cadenza, and K900, respectively). If Kia renames the Optima, it seems possible the company could make similar changes for those products as well.
We’ve reached out to Kia for comment on the report, although a new name seems likely. We’ll be sure to update this post with any comment Kia provides.