The Optima is critical to the success of Kia in the United States. Its competition includes the 2015 Chevrolet Malibu, Chrysler 200, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat.
Car shoppers should look for the 2016 Optima at Kia dealerships later this year.
The Optima has been Kia's No. 1 selling vehicle here, largely due to its German-inspired, premium exterior and interior appearance and attractive base price. The base 2015 Optima LX carries a $22,515 price tag, including an $825 destination charge.
"All of the sheet metal will be new (for the 2016 model), but the overall appearance will be familiar, evolutionary," an industry source told Edmunds. They are not about "to mess with success and create an Optima that is shocking."
The new Optima is expected to adopt front-end styling cues from the Kia Sportspace concept, such as a new interpretation of the tiger-nose grille. The concept will debut in early March at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.
Last year Kia sold about 159,000 Optima models, accounting for 27 percent of Kia's combined U.S. sales volume. Kia's No. 2 seller was the Kia Soul wagon with about 145,300 sales, followed by the Kia Sorento SUV. The Optima and Sorento are assembled in the United States. Kia has a production plant in West Point, Georgia.
Edmunds says: The evolutionary design direction for the new 2016 Kia Optima should please current owners as well as Kia shoppers.