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.
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?
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.