Kia Optima May Be Due for a Name Change

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Kia recently revealed the best bundle of teaser images we’ve ever seen, as those pics left nothing to the imagination. And while we now know what the 2021 K5/Optima will look like, as it turns out, we don’t know what it will be called. Piqued by the brand filing patents for a new logo in Korea, everyone started digging to see what other changes Kia might be making behind the scenes… and it would appear that the Optima may adopt the Korean market’s K5 moniker for use overseas.

While that should help minimize international confusion, ditching the Optima name comes with a few risks. The sedan is among the brand’s best selling models in the United States. It also has a real name, like most Kia products, instead of an alphanumeric jumble that’s supposed to be indicative of its place in the lineup.

Kia’s only car without a Christian name here in North America, the K900, is among the region’s worst selling vehicles. The manufacturer only managed to move 354 last year (no, that isn’t a typo) and 2019 doesn’t look promising for a stronger showing. One could blame that on it being beyond what people would expect from the brand in terms of luxury or perhaps unable to stack up with Genesis’ fancier G90 — which has a better sales record. But the name has to have something to do with it, right?

Americans will tolerate alphanumeric names on premium vehicles in part to show off its (presumably German, maybe Japanese) badge. But that’s not something that carries over to mainstream product. Heck, people complained when Lincoln and Cadillac tried it. Yet that’s what Kia intends to do with the Optima, according to reports from both the Korean Car Blog and Motor1.

There aren’t a lot of details, just the assertion that Kia has already decided to make the change. A Kia spokesperson has stated that the company has made no official announcements regarding the new Optima and cannot comment on product at this time. They told Motor1 that too, adding “Regardless of the badge, Optima remains an important component of Kia’s award-winning lineup of vehicles.”

Sounds like we may have to get used to writing “K5” instead of Optima.

[Images: Kia Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Dec 16, 2019

    So what we have now Kia K5? Very like Pontiac G5 and thats why: both are profanation of "sport" sedan and in naming scheme respective companies imply them being luxury cars. Another BMW killer for sure. Where Cadillac and Infiniti failed Kia will succeed - they only need to change the name.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Dec 17, 2019

    I second the question about GM's trademark. However, given what was said about the K900, I wonder if a plan is in the works to call it the K5 Optima and affix the Optima name in some way to the K900.

  • El scotto I can get the speedometer from dad's 72 Ford truck back. I can't get dad back.
  • El scotto BAH! No dividers in the trunk for bags of onions or hooks for hanging sardines! Hard Pass.
  • El scotto Hyundai/Kia's true masters are finally revealed.
  • El scotto Stirring up some more. The GSA is required to buy vehicles from the Big 3. This shows the Federal Government tacitly supports the UAW. Yeah I've seen some Hyundai or Kia hybrids. I didn't pay much attention the EV/American parts percentage tax credits. It looks like a lot of skullduggery. The UAW coming to SEC-land may be the beginning of the end of SEC-land being the US's internal third world country.The US is bringing more manufacturing back from China. Our demographics are shrinking. Unskilled labor will cost more, a union job might not pay enough.
  • El scotto I look forward to watching MTG and Tommy Tuberville when the UAW comes to their states.