It seems like an odd choice, but ok.
Towards the end of last year, rumors emerged that Kia might be changing the name of its mid-size sedan, the Optima. Now, we have further proof after an undisguised, US-spec version of the Kia Optima was recently spotted near the carmaker's headquarters in Irvine, California by Korean Car Blog, sporting an interesting set of badges on the trunk.
Instead of having an Optima badge, this prototype wore the name K5 on the back. We know this was a US-spec prototype and not just a South Korean model as the example spotted in California also worse an EX badge, signifying Kia's middle trim level in the US. South Korean K5 models use different trim level names, which is yet more evidence that the Optima is getting a name change.
We aren't sure why Kia would want to switch to the K5 name, especially considering that the Optima nameplate now has more than two decades of marketing and brand equity behind it. This also makes us wonder if Kia's other car models will also be changed in the US. In other markets, Kia builds vehicles from the K1 up to the K9 (the K900 in the US), so it seems possible that a nomenclature change could be incoming.
The next-generation Kia Optima is expected to arrive in the US sporting the same engines found in its sister car, the Hyundai Sonata. This would mean a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 191 horsepower or an optional 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 180 hp but more torque than the non-turbo mill. All-wheel-drive is expected as an option for the first time ever and the sedan will also spawn a sporty GT variant with a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine producing at least 290 hp.
However, don't be surprised if it arrives with a new name.