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Kia Optima May Be Due for a Name Change

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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]

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