Future Kia Optima Optimized in New Korean-Market Fastback Sedan

kia k5 oem exterior front grey jpg Kia K5 (Korean model shown) | Manufacturer image

The Kia Optima sedan is known as the K5 in its native South Korean market, and Kia has just revealed the next-generation K5 featuring radical styling updates in line with what the related 2020 Hyundai Sonata received with its redesign. While Kia has not yet confirmed that this is the 2021 Optima, it’s extremely likely that what you see here will be available in the U.S. sometime in the 2020 calendar year.

Related: 2019 Kia Optima: A Value Player, Not an Athlete

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2020 Kia Optima LX
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2020 Kia Optima LX
73,741 mi.

One of the most prominent features of the new Optima is its “fastback sedan” silhouette, extremely similar to that of the Sonata and executed nearly as well as Audi’s sportback models. In front, the K5 wears what Kia is calling the “Tiger Nose Evolution,” eschewing the Sonata’s singular gaping maw for a bisected one, with a shorter grille opening above the dividing piece plus a taller but narrower air intake below. Large vents sit ahead of the front wheels and directly below the headlights; the functionality of any of these openings is unclear at this time. New front headlights feature a “heartbeat” daytime running light “signature.”

Along the side, a chrome strip runs from the base of the A-pillars along the roofline and down to the extremely short decklid. The Sonata features a similar arc, but its chrome strips begin at the headlights. At the rear, a continuous horizontal taillight stretches across the vertical portion of the trunk lid, a trait again shared with the Hyundai. Above the horizontal taillight is what Kia is calling a “subtle rear wing” formed where the horizontal and vertical portions of the decklid meet.

As far as measurements go, the K5 is almost 2 inches longer, nearly an inch wider and about eight-tenths of an inch lower than its predecessor. Kia also says the K5 will have 16-, 17-, 18- and 19-inch wheels. The K5 goes on sale in South Korea in December, with U.S. sales as the Optima likely to begin sometime next year.

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Road Test Editor Brian Normile joined the automotive industry and in 2013, and he became part of the Editorial staff in 2014. Brian spent his childhood devouring every car magazine he got his hands on — not literally, eventually — and now reviews and tests vehicles to help consumers make informed choices. Someday, Brian hopes to learn what to do with his hands when he’s reviewing a car on camera. He would daily-drive an Alfa Romeo 4C if he could. Email Brian Normile

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