2021 Kia K5: Name change may be sub-Optima, but AWD and bold styling are great

2021 Kia K5: Name change may be sub-Optima, but AWD and bold styling are great

2021 Kia K5

This is the new face of the Kia mid-size sedan. Get to know the K5.


The 2021 Kia K5 is a complete iteration for the medium-sized sedan, the new platform and everything from the Korean automaker. Although we have known what the K5 looks like since last December – and even drove the limousine – Kia announced on Tuesday exactly what the car should expect when it arrives in the US this summer.

First of all, yes Optima name is outand the sedan takes the same name that it bears in South Korea: K5. With the new name, many more new things come in five equipment variants: LX, LXS, GT-Line, GT and EX. The 2021 K5 sits on Kia’s latest N3 platform, has optional all-wheel drive and a fairly powerful powertrain with top performance.

That would be a new 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine with 290 hp and 311 pound-feet of torque for the K5 GT. If the displacement looks familiar, it is because the luxury-oriented cousin Genesis also rocks the engine. An AWD system with front-wheel drive is standard here, and Kia has installed a new eight-speed wet dual clutch transmission, which is supposed to trigger gear changes with authority. The brand is proud that no other sedan in its segment offers such a transmission.

Every second K5 fairing works with a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that produces 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. A new eight-speed transmission is standard here, but it’s just a normal automatic transmission. The 1.6 liter engine also features a new technology called CVVD (Continuously Variable Valve Duration). By giving each of the valves in the engine its independence, so to speak, Kia improves performance and efficiency. And for those who want AWD without the extra power of the GT, it’s optional with every fairing, except for the base LX. The EX also received AWD as standard.

In the entire K5 series, the sedan has become longer and wider, but shorter. The new N3 platform helped cement the slimmer look that mimics the shape of the stinger minus the actual hatchback model at the rear. The new “tiger face” of the sedan, not just the radiator grille, is thinner, but now spans the front clip more, and thin LED running lights bend and then hit the front side panel. The C-pillar does a great job and makes it look like there’s a liftback, but the K5 still contains a standard trunk. At the rear is a new LED taillight design with dashboard elements that really make the car stand out from any other sedan – including the new one Hyundai Sonata.

Where Kia really seems to have thrown it out of the park is the cockpit, which contains a mixture of sporty and high-quality materials. Here you can see the GT-Line and GT steering wheel with flat bottom and the 10.25-inch infotainment display. An 8-inch screen is standard, and frankly, the smaller screen could be the one you get.

2021 Kia K5


Why? Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It works seamlessly with the 8-inch touchscreen, but not with the optional 10.25-inch device. It’s funny, but that’s how it works here. Additional amenities and optional technologies include a Bose premium sound system, mobile phone charging, natural speech recognition to control various functions and smart key functions.

And of course there is a shipload of active safety equipment, either standard or optional. Every K5 is equipped with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and a warning system for the driver’s attention. The optional equipment is breathtaking and offers everything from the excellent Highway Drive Assist to avoiding collisions with blind spots to the cross traffic alarm at the rear.

The first 2021 K5 sedans will arrive in the coming months, but for those looking for a hotter K5, the K5 GT won’t be ready until this fall.

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