Perhaps Thankfully, Kia's Upcoming Optima Won't Go the Sonata Route

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
perhaps thankfully kias upcoming optima wont go the sonata route

You have to give Hyundai Motor Group credit — it’s certainly not shy when it comes to design. It hasn’t been for a while, and the 2011 Sonata can attest to that. After Hyundai toned things down for the follow-up generation, the brand realized its mistake: to get noticed alongside Camry and Accord, you needed to go way out and wild.

Perhaps too wild, some who’ve viewed the 2020 Sonata might say. However, if Hyundai’s midsizer is too much for your stomach to handle, Kia’s sister car may be the remedy you’re looking for. You know, if you’re still into sedans and all that.

Speaking to Autocar, HMG design head Luc Donckerwolke said the company plans to further differentiate its brands in terms of style, in some cases adopting regional styling changes. There will still be “unifying themes” seen by buyers on all continents, he claims.

Part of the automaker’s strategy called for the new Sonata to serve as design showcase for the group. “Hyundai is good on value for money, but we need to add emotion,” Donckerwolke said.

Kia’s replacement for the current-gen Optima will head in a different direction.

The brand’s design head, Byungchul Juh, told the publication, “The next Optima is … not extreme but progressive, with a strong brand identity. There will be even greater separation between Kia and Hyundai. Kia is more innovative, young, challenging, iconic and cool. There will be unexpected details, and influences from general product design, cars, architecture and fine art.”

The tiger nose grille will remain a Kia design staple, though the front fascia of new models won’t appear as closely matched as before, he added. Spy photos of the next-gen Optima suggest the model’s front-end cues will please anyone who’s a fan of the Forte, which donned an upscale, more mature form for 2019. The same could be said for Stinger fans, and, going by the camouflaged model’s flanks, those who hanker for an Accord. Expect the model to appear next year as a 2021 model.

Next on HMG’s plate is a redesigned Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, the former of which Hyundai brand design boss SangYup Lee recently said will cause people to “ freak out.”

“The next Sportage is even bolder than the new Tucson,” Donckerwolke said. Both of those two compact crossovers will reveal themselves within the coming year.

Like most other long-running sedans, the Kia Optima’s post-recession sales peaked in 2014-2015, declining every year since. The model saw its U.S. volume fall 5.5 percent in 2018, though the first four months of 2019 shows an 11.5 percent increase.

[Image: Kia]

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4 of 31 comments
  • MKizzy MKizzy on May 24, 2019

    The next Optima MUST have styling that differentiates it from the Sonata, given the risks Hyundai is taking with it. I quietly hope Kia offers a sportback version of the Optima like the Stinger. Such a move could introduce and mainstream that more practical body style to a whole new consumer base. It might even become the preferred body style of the next generation of young drivers who might decide they rather walk than be caught owning a CUV.

    • See 1 previous
    • Speedlaw Speedlaw on May 28, 2019

      Sportback ? Hatch ? My OG 900 Turbo is calling from the grave.

  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on May 28, 2019

    At least the Koreans are still selling sedans in the U.S. marketplace. And they are doing so with extremely attractive styling. That is the opposite of the Japanese brands that like to do ugly and stodgy styling!

  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.
  • Arthur Dailey Love the Abe Rothstein tribute suits. Too bad about the car. Seems to have been well loved for most of its life.
  • K. R. Worth noting that the climate control is shared with (donated to) the Audi 5000 of the mid-late 1980s.
  • Sloomis Looks like 108,000 miles to me, not 80,000. Not much better though...
  • Johnds If I’m not mistaken, the odo appears to say 8016, not 80016.