In January this year, reports surfaced on Kia ditching its old nameplates in favor of an alphanumeric nomenclature. At the time, however, it wasn’t confirmed which models in the lineup are adopting the new naming system.
That is until the Korean automaker announced the upcoming arrival of the K5 to the U.S. market.
The 2021 K5 is the new name for the company’s Optima, which made its debut in America in 2000. Motor Trend was the first to report the name change when EPA published a listing for a certain 2021 Kia K5 along with fuel economy estimates for the sedan.
Asked why it is suddenly changing the name of the well-loved model after two decades, Kia did not provide a response.
But it is assumed that the automaker is streamlining its naming system in the U.S. with that in Korea, although Kia has not confirmed if there will also be changes in the names of other models in Korea that follow an alphanumeric naming convention. These include the Forte (K3), the Cadenza (K7), and the K900 (K9).
For its U.S. edition, the new generation of the mid-size sedan will be powered by a 1.6-liter turbo-four engine paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It will also be available with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.
But the recent EPA listing shows numbers for the 1.6-liter engine with an all-wheel-drive layout. It delivers an estimated 26 mpg in city driving, 34 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined.
The AWD format for the new K5 is only optional. But this puts the model on the continuously expanding list of sedans that offer the layout with combined fuel economy estimates that are attractive to customers. Some of the other popular models in the list are the Subaru Legacy, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry.
The 2021 Kia K5 is expected to go on sale in the U.S. by the end of the year.