Perhaps Thankfully, Kia's Upcoming Optima Won't Go the Sonata Route
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By on May 24, 2019
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.
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