2021 Kia K5 Review | New look, new name, still a value leader

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The 2021 Kia K5 replaces the long-standing Kia Optima as the brand's medium-sized family sedan and brings a bold, aggressive exterior design and an extremely comfortable driving experience. In addition, it is a good value compared to the competition. And although it sacrifices a bit of sportiness for its comfort, Kia will be rolling out a high-performance GT model by the end of the year designed to address the lack of driving pleasure. There are some sedans on the market that offer a slightly better mix of sportiness and comfort, like one of our favorites the Honda Accord, as well as the elegantly aging Mazda6, but the Kia's strengths are enough to make it a must-have for medium sized car buyers.
What's new for 2020
The Kia K5 is a new model introduced this year, but it could certainly be seen as a next generation Optima with a name change.
2021 K5 GT-Line AWD
What does the interior and vehicle technology of the K5 look like?
While the exterior of the K5 is bold and aggressive, the interior is less noticeable. But that doesn't mean it isn't still stylish. The dashboard has a unique design with separate layers that creates visual interest. Most models get an aluminum-look trim on the dashboard and doors, but the EX has a pretty compelling matte synthetic wood trim. The plastics are all of high quality with a welcome number of soft-touch finishes and interesting, attractive patterns.
The instruments and infotainment screen occupy a large monolith in front of the driver and in the center of the dashboard. The displays are analogous to a display embedded between them. The standard infotainment touchscreen is an 8-inch unit flanked by physical keyboard shortcuts and buttons. It's the same system that Kia has been using for several years. It's easy to use, but a little dated. A 10.25-inch screen is optionally available for the GT-Line and EX. It's bigger and has updated graphics that are easier to look at, but it works in a similar way. That's not a bad thing. Instead of normal keyboard shortcuts, this system also records touch-sensitive keyboard shortcuts instead of physical buttons. Quite simply, they don't work that well and we are glad that the climate control is equipped with conventional buttons and buttons, regardless of the infotainment system.
It's also worth noting that the seating is quite comfortable. The front seats in particular are thickly padded with soft cushions. The seats are very adjustable, making it easy to find a comfortable position. The back seats are not that nice, but anything but offensive. The space is reasonable too, and we'll discuss this in more detail in the next section.
2021 K5 EX 1.6T FWD
How big is the K5?
The K5 is 193.1 inches long, 73.2 inches wide and 56.9 inches tall. It also has a wheelbase of 112.2 inches long. Compared to the Optima it replaces, it's about 2 inches longer in both overall length and wheelbase. It's about the same width and about an inch shorter than the Optima. In addition to segment benchmarks like the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry, the K5 is just an inch away from both sedans in either direction.
In the interior, the K5 offers plenty of leg and shoulder room for the front and rear passengers. Headroom is a little tight in both rows, though, although specs show the K5 offers more headroom than the Optima, Accord, and Camry. On paper, shoulder space is almost identical to that of Honda and Toyota. Legroom specifications vary significantly between these cars. However, after sitting in the back, there is plenty of legroom in the back of the K5 so adults can be comfortable for long periods of time.
The cargo space for the Kia K5 is 16 cubic feet. That is between the agreement and Camry. The Accord has 0.7 cubic feet more space and the Camry has 0.9 cubic feet less. It's roughly similar to the Hyundai Sonata.

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What is the performance and fuel economy of the K5?
Every Kia K5 with the exception of the GT gets the same 1.6-liter four-cylinder and eight-speed turbo-charged automatic transmission. It makes 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. LX, LXS, GT-Line and EX fairings come standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is an option on the LXS and GT-Line. Fuel economy with front-wheel drive is 27 mpg in the city, 37 on the highway and 31 combined. The base LX fairing is the only fairing to receive an automatic start-stop, and its fuel economy is slightly higher with an output of 29/38/32 mpg. The all-wheel drive K5s see a drop in fuel economy to 26/34/29 mpg.
The GT trim level is the only one to get a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder developing 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. It only comes with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. No fuel consumption figures were available at the time of this writing.
How does the K5 drive?
Where the Kia K5 excels is comfort. The chassis is softly tuned but with excellent body control so you have a smooth, luscious ride. The cabin is very quiet, as is the engine and transmission. If you employ supportive seats and seating positions, the K5 is sure to be one of the most comfortable family sedans.
But if you want to drive with some power, the K5 falls too short. The steering is weighted well with some feedback, but not quite as good as that of the Honda Accord or Mazda6. The soft suspension shows a fair bit of body roll in the corners. The chassis also doesn't react quickly to inputs and there is very little grip. In addition, the transmission shifts slowly, making it difficult to get the most out of the 1.6 liter engine.
We expect the Kia K5 GT to resolve some of our dynamic disappointments with the regular K5. It has a sporty chassis that should theoretically improve handling. It'll have a lot more horsepower too, and its dual-clutch automatic should be a snappy shifter. While we hadn't driven it at the time of this writing, we've driven a prototype of the closely related Hyundai Sonata N Line and it looked promising.
What else can I read about the Kia K5?
2021 Kia K5 first drive | Comfortable, cool, but not exactly king
In our first drive with the K5, we give detailed driving impressions and how the K5 fares against the competitive mid-range sedan segment.
What features are available and what is the price of the K5?
The base Kia K5 LX starts at $ 24,455, including the target fee of $ 965. This base model has 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, heated mirrors, fabric seats with manual six-way adjustment on the driver and front passenger seats, two-zone automatic climate control, an 8-inch infotainment screen and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The safety features include the alarm for the rear occupants, the forward collision warning and emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and automatic high beam. More notable features, available as an option or standard with higher trim, include synthetic leather upholstery, heated seats, heated steering wheel, navigation, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, and cell phone charging.
All prices listed below include the target fee of $ 965. Further information on the individual functions of the following equipment variants as well as the technical data and local prices can be found here at Autoblog.
LX: $ 24,455
LXS: $ 25,455
GT-Line: USD 26,355
EX: $ 28,955
LXS AWD: $ 27,555
GT-Line AWD: USD 30,055
GT 2.5T: $ 31,455
What are K5's safety equipment and crash ratings?
The basic K5 has a standard forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, a lane departure warning system and a warning system for the rear occupants. In the LXS, GT-Line, EX and GT equipment variants, warning systems for blind spots and cross traffic have been added at the rear. EX also adds rear parking sensors as standard. GT-Line and EX have several safety functions that are not available with the LX and LXS. GT-Line options include adaptive cruise control with or without a navigation-based cornering speed assistant and a motorway steering assistant. The EX optionally only has a navigation-based adaptive cruise control and optionally an emergency braking at the rear. The GT has the same option list, but rear parking sensors are also an option.
At the time of this writing, the K5 has not yet been crash tested by a third party.
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