Car names can give a sense of context to history, like that time the best-selling car in America was an Oldsmobile and we’re all left wondering why that was OK now. But there’s one current car with a real name that’s about to be history: the Kia Optima.
The Optima is Kia’s mid-size sedan, like the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. It’s gone by quite a number of different names around the globe since its introduction back in 2000, including the Kia Magentis, Kia Lotze, and in South Korea and China the model is sold as the K5. But it’s always been Optima in the U.S., but not anymore.
Motor Trend reports new fuel economy figures published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are published for the Kia “K5,” not the Kia Optima like on older EPA reports.
Motor Trend points out that the EPA could have released these figures for an as-of-yet unannounced 2021 Kia model that isn’t some version of the Optima, but there are no other records yet if you search the EPA’s site for “2021 Kia Optima,” while other 2021 Kia models, like the Seltos, already have their figures posted.
So basically it seems very likely the Optima will become the K5 for the 2021 model year, and that should all be confirmed very soon. We’ve heard this before, and we didn’t like it back then, either.
I kind of like the Optima name, but I understand why Kia may be moving away from it. But it is a little too familiar with Nissan’s Altima and Maxima naming structure (you have to wonder why!).
It’s a very soft, optimistic-sounding car name, which is perfect, but it no longer really fits with the brand’s image nor the rest of its more modern nomenclature for the rest of the lineup.
Its new cars are called cool, hard names like Stinger, and Seltos, as the brand has slowly moved away from ending names with the softer, lifting “a,” at the end, like Sedona or Cadenza, to stuff like Niro and Telluride. It signals the brand position Kia is likely trying to position itself in.
The Optima never made a huge dent on the Camry, so all of those years chasing the soft, comfortable image of that car didn’t do a lot for the Optima. Perhaps a change is good. But a change to something cooler, like the “Kia Omega” or “Kia Calypso,” could be cool.
Or make it sound more important—call it the Kia Special. And give us the wagon!