2021 Kia Optima: Look Over Here, Please

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
2021 kia optima look over here please

A decade — isn’t that hard to believe? — after the debut of the radically styled third-generation Kia Optima, the automaker has another salvo waiting to launch against midsize boredom. Trailing its equally daring 2020 Hyundai Sonata sibling by a model year, the revamped 2021 Optima ditches the downgraded clothes that appeared in its closet for 2016.

Like Hyundai, Kia feels that style is its best bet to capture attention — and buyers — as the midsize sedan market contracts.

The model seen here dons the name K5, which is what Kia calls the Optima in its Korean home market. Same car, same changes. Retaining the brand’s signature tiger-nose grille, albeit now an integrated design (Kia claims the grille mesh is modelled after a shark’s skin), the new Optima aims for a flat hoodline and a coupe-like profile. Like the Sonata, LED running lights extend quite far aft of the headlamps, in two diverging directions.

Out back, you’d be surprised to learn this is a sedan and not a liftback. The Optima’s abbreviated trunk lid gives the Lincoln MKZ a run for its money in the short-deck championships. A strip of chrome trim begins at the base of the A-pillar and continues all the way to the base of the rear glass, framing the roof with tinsel. Taillights span the width of the car, no doubt causing Corey to employ the horrid term “heckblende,” while a sporty rear bumper valance and slim (possibly faux) exhaust ports amp up the sports sedan appearance designers were clearly going for.

Bolstering these visual changes is a narrow waist created by bulking up the car’s fenders. Length is up 2 inches, with a corresponding increase in wheelbase. Roof height sinks eight-tenths of an inch, while width increases by about an inch.

Kia makes note of the car’s boosted visual muscularity compared to the outgoing model, which this writer last drove after leaving a rental lot. Kia would likely prefer that the new Optima take precedence over Camry and Accord in the minds of new car intenders, rather than simply tempt them at the rental counter. As for real muscle, there’s no word on engine availability just yet.

In the U.S., Optima sales peaked in 2015, with the model’s volume shrinking 36 percent between that date and 2018. Through October, Optima volume is down 5 percent for the year.

[Images: Kia Motors]

Join the conversation
2 of 42 comments
  • Jeff Weimer Jeff Weimer on Nov 13, 2019

    If you're going to have a back glass with an angle like that, put a wiper on it. I know it can be done on a sedan, I'm not sure why it isn't. I assume some kind of safety regulation.

  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Nov 13, 2019

    Looks pretty good. I'm sure it will imitate the new Sonata's engine offerings with base 2.5 and 191 HP or the 180 HP 1.6T. With Ford, GM and FCA killing off most of there sedans this might work in favor of what is left in the 25-35K bracket.

  • Bullnuke It may be awhile before these show up on US shores. The MV Fremantle Highway has just started demo/reconstruction in Rotterdam after the large fire when transporting its last shipment of electric Porsche products.
  • Fie on Fiasler Big, fast and thirsty does not equal good. True luxury is not cobbled together by the UAW.
  • Inside Looking Out I see it as gladiator races - only one survives in virtual world.
  • Crown They need to put the EcoDiesel back in the Grand Cherokee. I have a 2018 and it has been the most reliable vehicle I ever owned. 69,000 miles and only needed tires, and regular oil and fuel filter changes.
  • El scotto Y'all are overthinking this. Find some young hard-charging DA seeking the TV limelight to lock this kid up. Heck, have John Boehner come up from Cincy to help the young DA get his political career going. Better yet, have the young DA spin this as hard as he or she can; I'm the candidate for Law and Order, I defied our go-easy office and leadership to get this identified criminal locked up. Oh this could be spun more than a hyper active kid's top.Now I'd do some consulting work for Little Kings Original Cream Ale and Skyline Chili.