The Kia Optima suffers an "also-ran" status. It truly is a great sedan, but it gets totally eclipsed by the likes of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and the Hyundai Sonata with which it shares underpinnings. It does, however, outsell the Mazda6 sedan, which is a bit surprising to us considering the fact that the 6 is more attractive and fun to drive compared to just about all of the aforementioned vehicles. The Optima is due for a redesign in order to be more of a serious contender, and the teaser images you see here might just put it at the front of the pack.
Just take a look at the totally new shape and styling. The teaser images actually show quite a bit more, which means this might just be the production version. The first thing you notice is that curvaceous LED headlight signature up front. It starts in the front quarter panel, drops down to the lower edge of the headlight housing and seems to bisect it as it heads toward that fresh interpretation of Kia's tiger nose grille that spans most of the front fascia. And don't ignore than hood that has strong creases and sculpted edges.
The lower fascia shown in the teaser image seems to have a rather large grille opening and vents that should give the new Optima a more aggressive look than the current model (below). The very noticeable fastback-style greenhouse shows a long and sloping roofline, and the roof appears to be a contrasting black against the red/maroon coloring of the body.
The back of the Optima is almost more radical than the front end thanks to what looks like a full-width LED taillights strip that's capped off by a trunklid spoiler that's almost like a ducktail. The beautiful crease from the rear doors extend right into the outer edges of the spoiler, and the metallic strip extending from the front A-pillar, across the top of the window frame, and down to the base of the rear glass carries over from the current model but in a more fluid manner. We have to say Kia and Hyundai are really dialing up the style quotient in very original ways.
The interior is also a dramatic shift, though this image looks more like a rendering than a photo. The whole cabin gets revamped with what appears to be a big digital instrument cluster, a wide touchscreen, and a big center console. The stacked dash is a big change from the old, slab-faced version on the current car. The armrest compartment lid looks interesting with two angled surfaces instead of a single flat version.
In terms of in-car tech, we're not sure if the new Optima will get the awesome Blind-Spot View Monitor that displays each side of the car in the gauges when changing lanes, but we're hoping. The fact that the Hyundai Palisade SUV has it, but the Kia Telluride doesn't might be an indication. It looks like the redesigned Optima will get a rotary infotainment controller and possibly the same pushbutton transmission from the Sonata, but it's hard to tell from the rendering. Whatever the case, the new interior should look far more upscale than the current one. It still has to beat the artful interior of the Mazda6, which is the best in the family sedan segment right now.
The fact that the upcoming Optima resembles the sister vehicle, the new Hyundai Sonata, means it most likely will share powertrains: a 2.5-liter inline-four and a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four. And though we hear the Sonata will get a performance version in the form of an N-Line model, we're not sure if the Optima will get the same treatment. If so, it could get the same turbocharged 2.5-liter mill rumored to slot into the Sonata N-Line.
The new Optima will get fully revealed before the end of the year, and it's at that point we'll know a lot more about technology, suspension, interior trim, and planned configurations. Look for the totally redesigned Optima to go on sale in 2020 as a 2021 model. It looks like the Korean brands are making some serious design moves, and we like what we see.