What does Kia K5 mean?

By Product Expert | Posted in Kia Optima, Manufacturer Information, New Kia Models on Monday, July 20th, 2020 at 8:03 pm
Red 2021 Kia K5 side/front exterior view

Meaning of the 2021 Kia K5

You may have heard about a new vehicle from Kia called the 2021 Kia K5. This is certainly a unique name from an automaker that typically uses full words rather than alpha-numeric labels for their models. What exactly is Kia K5, and what does it mean?


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Head-on view of a blue 2021 Kia K5

The Kia K5 name likely does not have any particular meaning; it is simply an alpha-numeric label. In South Korea, many Kia models go by labels like this; vehicles that are sold in the United States with full word names such as the Rio and Telluride are sold in South Korea with labels such as K2, K3 and K9.

It’s not clear if this labelling pattern is a one-off or if Kia is going to continue this trend with the names of its models in the United States. Indeed, it’s likely that Kia themselves are unsure, and are waiting to see how the new nomenclature goes over.

What is the Kia K5?

The 2021 Kia K5 is actually a renamed (and redesigned) Kia Optima. The result is an all-new midsize sedan that Kia states is slated to “disrupt and inspire.” In South Korea and other parts of the world, the Kia Optima has been sold as the Kia K5 since it entered its second generation.

You may also be intrigued by the 2021 Kia Sedona.

History of the Kia Optima/K5 Name

The Kia Optima has been manufactured by Kia Motors since 2000. In that first generation, the vehicles were mostly known by name Optima. When sales began in Europe and Canada in 2002, however, the model there went by the name Kia Magentis.

Once the second generation of the Optima came around, Kia began selling it as the Kia Lotze and Kia K5 in the South Korean market, and switched to using the Magentis name globally. The Optima name remained only in the United States, Canada, and Malaysia. This pattern lasted until the 2021 model year.

Interestingly, the Optima name will now be used in all markets except for China, Saudi Arabia, and the United States; these three countries will now also receive the South Korean market name of K5. What a strange and convoluted history of name-flopping!