Morgan Pritchett
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What Are Kia Vehicles Called in Other Countries?

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Kia Badge Logo up close shot
Photo: Kia

Here in the U.S., you may be familiar with Kia models like the Forte, Optima, and Rio. Their names come from varying languages and regions, and often have insightful meanings. But in other countries, these three popular cars are known by many other names.


Kia Rio

The Kia Rio made its debut in 1999 and replaced the first generation Pride subcompact vehicle. In America, the first thing you may think of with the Rio name is the iconic Rio Grande. That’s exactly what Kia was going for — the image of a river (rio in Spanish) — as it had designed the small car with a fluid, flowing design in mind. Here’s what other countries have called the Rio over the years.

Kia Rio model names worldwide
Photo: Kia

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Kia Optima

Just one year after the Rio went on sale, Kia introduced the Optima in 2000. The name comes from the Latin word “optimus,” which means “best.” For its first generation, the mid-size sedan was known as the Optima in most regions. But as time passed, some countries adopted a few new names for this classic Kia.

Kia Optima model names worldwide
Photo: Kia

Kia Forte

The newest among this group of Kia vehicles, the Forte premiered at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show and was marketed in the U.S. as the replacement for the Kia Spectra. Forte is derived from the French word “fort,” which means “strong.” Before getting some exciting updates this year, the Kia Forte has gone by quite a few names worldwide.

Kia Forte model names worldwide
Photo: Kia

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Were you familiar with any of these names? Did I miss any for the Rio, Forte, and Optima? Let me know in the comments and tell me what you think is the coolest alternate name for a car we know here in America.