Kia's midsize sedan has ditched the Optima name in favor of its Korean domestic market moniker, the K5. The latest generation of Kia's popular sedan sports the brand's latest styling direction complete with cool patterns and a grille that now stretches below part of the headlights. Under that sleek profile is the new N3 platform that also underpins the new-for-2020 Hyundai Sonata. Unlike its Hyundai sibling, however, the 2021 Kia K5 will offer AWD in addition to standard FWD. Like the outgoing Optima, the 2021 Kia K5 will be built in Georgia alongside the Telluride.
The 2021 Kia K5 marks a massive step forward for the brand's midsize sedan. When we drove an early prototype, we found that the base powertrain alone is a step up from the outgoing Optima. Kia's new 1.6-liter turbo-four provides drama-free acceleration regardless of the drive mode you choose. Complementing the engine is a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. Driving production models for Car of the Year, we appreciated the 290-hp K5 GT, too, although its sport suspension delivered a stiff ride on the street.
Jumping inside the 2021 Kia K5, you're greeted with a well-built interior featuring good materials and great sound insulation. Feature-per-dollar value is a strong point here. Little road noise entered the cabin in the prototypes we drove, even at high speeds. In a comparison against the Honda Accord, though, we liked the K5's style and value but the Accord's superior engineering shone through. That said, the K5's strengths earned a second-place finish in our seven-car Big Test of every vehicle in the midsize sedan segment.
The 2021 Kia K5 will offer two turbocharged engines. The LX, LXS, GT-Line, and EX models are powered by a 1.6-liter turbo I-4 with 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission offered and 0-60 takes 7.4-7.8 seconds, depending on whether you opt for FWD or AWD. EPA fuel economy ratings for the base 1.6-liter are 29/38 mpg city/highway for FWD models with engine stop-start and 27/37 mpg without that tech. Combining AWD with the 1.6-liter returns 26/34 mpg.
Should you want more power than the 180-hp standard engine, the performance-oriented 2021 Kia K5 GT features a 2.5-liter turbo-four with 290 hp and 311 lb-ft that helps it sprint to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. Fuel economy numbers read 24/32 mpg. The K5 GT mates that turbo-four to a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Based on its strong performance in IIHS safety testing, the K5 is a 2021 Top Safety Pick+. However, that moniker only applies to examples built after November 2020, as models built prior to then had inadequate headlights. The K5 also earns a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA.
All 2021 Kia K5 models have driver attention warning, forward collision warning, front automatic emergency braking, and lane keeping assist with centering function standard. Higher trims expand the list of driver assistance features with pedestrian detection, cyclist detection, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and highway driving assist, which improves lane keeping assist's centering function when in adaptive cruise control.
All 2021 K5 models get Kia's latest infotainment system with the latest artificial intelligence, allowing it to recognize natural speech. Lower trims feature an 8.0-inch touchscreen while higher-end trims get a larger 10.3-inch unit. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android are standard only on lower-end models with the smaller touchscreen. Other available tech features include wireless charging a 12-speaker Bose audio system, and built-in navigation.
|$0||1.9% Financing for a maximum term of 72 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models.||07-06-2021|
|$0||2.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 75, 84 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models.||07-06-2021|
|$400||Kia announces a Bonus Cash on select models for eligible military personnel.||06-30-2021|
|$0||0% Financing available for varying term lengths : 36, 48, 60 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models.||07-06-2021|
|$0||0.9% Financing for a maximum term of 66 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models.||07-06-2021|
|$750||Kia announces a Trade-In Assistance program on select models.||07-06-2021|