Following reports that the Hyundai Sonata may not be long for this world, there have been rumbling that the fate of the Kia Stinger and K5 sedan may also be in jeopardy.
The reasoning is obvious. After years of crossovers seeing an increased share of the global market, automakers have been dumping sedans so they can sell products that come with higher margins. A sizable percentage of the population has also been sold on the theory that higher-riding vehicles are automatically safer than their road-hugging counterparts. While that is endlessly debatable between models, there are aspects of crossovers that make real sense for the modern era. Storage capacity is typically better than what you’d find on a similarly sized sedan and the lengthened suspension travel can help the vehicle absorb the impact of pothole-laden streets that seem to be cropping up everywhere.
While hammering away at his keyboard in preparation for publishing this post, it dawned upon your author that The Right Spec for any new vehicle these days is – thanks to the chip shortage and a myriad of other supply problems – whatever resides on the lot. Or at least doesn’t have an exorbitant markup placed on its sticker.
Why are we profiling a family sedan this week? Because there are still swaths of Americans, believe it or not, who’d rather have this type of machine in their driveway than yet another SUV to add to the line of vehicles in the school pick-up line. And as for why the K5, in particular, was selected – well, let’s just say we hope to start an argument in the comments.
I am not, in general, one to fret too much when an automaker messes with car nomenclature. Even if, in the case of the formerly named Kia Optima, the brand switches to an alphanumeric structure.
That’s not to say I never get upset – I was pretty harsh on Infiniti when it switched to its current naming convention, because I found and still find it confusing. And sometimes, yeah, I get annoyed when a cool name is dropped for alphabet soup.
The Optima moniker wasn’t quite great, but it was good enough, and at least people, especially folks who know little about cars, knew, or at least vaguely knew, that it referred to a mid-size Kia sedan.
The name Americans have come to associate with Kia’s midsize family sedan is dead, but you probably knew that already. Hopefully you’ve recovered.
On Tuesday, Kia pulled the wraps off the U.S.-market K5, the automaker’s replacement for the long-running Optima (which carried the Magentis name in Canada until 2010). Riding atop a third-generation N3 platform, the midsizer grows in length, wheelbase, and width, while slouching closer to the road.
For the coming model year, Kia also saw fit to equip the newly renamed model with a more potent uplevel engine and all-wheel drive, but the liftback you might think exists behind the backseat is all in your head.
A rumor that began spreading last year seems to be borne out. Those whispers, which grew in volume after company executives failed to downplay the suggestion, hinted that Kia’s midsize Optima could see a name change for the 2021 model year.
Following its Hyundai Sonata sibling by a year, the radically redesigned midsizer could be the automaker’s last attempt to woo the American public and solidify its standing in the shrinking segment. At this point in the game, will a name change help at all? Maybe the better question is: would it hurt?
1991 GMC Jimmy SLE
The 1991 GMC Jimmy was a throwback to a better time. The design, originally introduced in the 1973 model year, was all truck and its square, upright design spoke volumes about American strength and power. Over the years, the design gradually evolved and towards the end of its product run even gained small touches of luxury. Don’t be misled by the soft velour seats and carpeted floors, though, under the skin the truck was still all business. It was a serious rig for serious men and it required a seriously big wallet to fill its seriously big fuel tank. I didn’t know it then, but I was in serious trouble the minute it hit the driveway.
The Korean word for ‘five’ sounds like “oh,” as in, “Oh, Snap!” or “OMG.” So in Korea, that makes Kia’s new K5 a “K.O.,” at least in name. But does Kia’s new Camccord fighter actually land a knockout on the all-important D-Segment, or is it a mere win by decision?