Kia may be planning to ditch car names for alphanumerics in the US

The Korean brand has a history of actually naming its cars, but that could change.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read
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This car could soon be known as the K5 and we're not down with that.


There was a time when giving cars alphanumeric names made sense. In the 1980s and '90s, for example, German car brands -- and Mercedes in particular -- were the masters of alphanumeric naming because their designations were logical. A 528i was a 5 Series with a 2.8-liter engine that was fuel-injected. A Mercedes S500 was an S-Class with a 5.0-liter V8.

These days, though, things have really gone off the proverbial rails, with everyone deciding somehow that actual names are lame and that a meaningless collection of numbers and letters is edgy and chic. Among the holdouts from this trend were the Korean sister brands of and , and if a report published Tuesday by MotorAuthority is to be believed, even that last bastion of sanity may be eroding.

Specifically, Kia has been on a roll with filing paperwork for new car models names -- K4, K5, K6, K7 and K9 (I know, I know, but maybe that doesn't translate well). In a recent announcement for the K5, the brand alluded to a GT version that would feature a higher-performance drivetrain aimed at US buyers. Nowhere in this announcement did Kia call it the K5, just K5.

"Such a name change for the US still being considered by Global Branding Committee," said a Kia representative, in a statement. "As you can imagine, Optima has strong and positive equity as transformative car for Kia in US."

To be totally fair, Kia often sells cars that we get in the US under different names in other parts of the world. The that we get here is the K9 in Korea, for example, and as MotorAuthority's Aaron Cole points out, Kia has a track record of snagging rights to model names and then never using them.

So Kia, please, from the bottom of our tiny, jaded automotive journalist hearts, don't go down this road. Your cars are good and deserve real names. Even Cadillac is ditching alphanumerics, and it's got a history of not bailing on something until the trend is well and truly dead (see: the "Personal Luxury Car" and tail fins). Stop this madness.

2021 Kia Optima pics revealed in Korean-market K5 guise

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Watch this: 2019 Kia K900: Understated, underrated

Update, 6:23 p.m.: Added comment from Kia