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2021 Kia K5 Review
- User Reviews
- Carfax Info
- Original MSRP$23,490 - $30,490
- Price Range$21,900 - $28,498
- Average Selling Price$24,960
- Fuel Economy (MPG)27/37 City/Hwy
- Body StylesSedan
What Is It and Who Is It For?
The K5 is a midsize sedan that seats up to five people. It’s meant for drivers who might otherwise choose a rival such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat, Hyundai Sonata, and Mazda6.
What Makes it Unique?
If a picture speaks a thousand words, we’ll let the shape of the Kia K5 do lots of talking. The K5 might look like a hatchback, especially when viewed from the side, but the slippery silhouette is draped over a traditional four-door body with a conventional trunk opening.
The front end is aggressive; the grille and headlights give the K5 a forward-thrusting scowl. Like the Hyundai Sonata, with which the K5 shares a platform, this is a sedan that’s been bred to have more style and attitude than other mainstream cars and SUVs.
K5 vs. Other Kia Models
Despite the ongoing sales rush to all things SUV, Kia has six sedans in its current lineup. These range from budget-friendly choices, like the Rio and Forte, to the sporty Stinger and luxurious Cadenza and K900.
In terms of size and price, the K5 sits between the compact Forte and Stinger sports sedan. Of the two, the K5 has more of the Stinger’s styling swagger, though not its potent 365-horsepower twin-turbo V-6.
Kia has not announced pricing for the K5 ahead of its arrival this summer, but expect the five trims to range from $25,000 to $35,000.
Kia K5 vs. Competition
Despite being far from the newest midsize sedan on the block, the outgoing Optima more than held its own against a wide range of strong rivals. The new model adds a dash of exterior bravado with its bold new look. This helps to not only set the K5 apart from other sedans; it gives the four-door Kia an edge against more pedestrian-looking SUVs:
Honda Accord: Agile, with a roomy backseat and ample cargo room
Toyota Camry: Long list of standard safety features and strong optional V6
Hyundai Sonata: Attention-grabbing design and excellent warranty
Mazda6: Superb handling; elegant interior design and trim
Subaru Legacy: Standard all-wheel drive and smooth ride
Is the 2021 Model Year Right for You?
Changes for 2021
- Completely new
- Replaces the Optima in Kia’s lineup
- Available all-wheel drive on LXS and GT-Line trims
- Available 10.25-inch high-resolution touchscreen
- 2021 Kia K5 vs. Older Kia Optimas
The K5 adds to the solid foundation of the Optima by offering all-wheel drive (AWD), added tech features such as wireless smartphone charging, and a more powerful turbo 4-cylinder in the new GT trim level.
What the K5 keeps is Kia’s outstanding warranty, a long list of standard safety and comfort features, plus an interior that provides ample space for those seated in the front or rear. In fact, because the K5 is slightly longer and wider than the Optima, Kia has managed to carve out a little added interior room, too.
Which 2021 Kia K5 Trim Is the Best Value?
Kia will reveal exact pricing for the 2021 K5 closer to its official on-sale date this summer. The GT model arrives later this year:
- LX: entry-level trim; expected to start around $25,000
- LXS: available with 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and choice of front-wheel drive (FWD) or AWD
- GT-Line: comes with 1.6-liter turbo-4 and choice of FWD or AWD
- EX: comes with 1.6-liter turbo-4 and FWD
- GT: comes with 290-hp turbo-4 and FWD
The Optima was known for offering a healthy dose of standard safety and comfort features, and the 2021 Kia K5 is not going to stray from that script. While Kia has not announced any official pricing details at the time of writing, the K5 should stay relatively close to the price range of the Optima. This would mean an entry-level LX would start around $25,000, while the range-topping GT trim will hover somewhere around $33,000-$35,000.
The most tempting trims seem to be right in the middle of the K5 range. Both the LXS and sport-themed GT-Line come with the standard 180-horsepower turbo-four, plus a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Having this added all-season grip could help convince car shoppers to skip the SUV and give Kia’s bold new sedan a test drive.
2021 Kia K5 Performance
The 2021 Kia K5 has two powertrain choices:
180-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder with an 8-speed automatic transmission and FWD or AWD
290-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with a dual-clutch 8-speed automatic transmission and FWD
Good for the class? The base engine in the K5 isn’t as powerful as what you’ll find in the Accord or Camry, but the optional 2.5-liter turbo more than holds its own, at least where horsepower is concerned.
- 6-liter FWD: 32 EPA-estimated combined mpg*
- 6-liter AWD: 31 mpg
- 5-liter FWD: TBD
*EPA-estimated fuel economy in combined city and highway driving
Good for the class? The 2021 Kia K5 posts strong economy numbers for a midsize sedan. It’s especially noteworthy that adding optional all-wheel drive to the turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder bumps the K5’s combined fuel economy down only 1 mpg.
2021 Kia K5: Carfax Expert Review
- Trim Tested: K5 EX
- Price as Tested: $32,355 (including destination charge)
- Likes: Well laid-out interior; clearly marked buttons; large, intuitive touchscreen; cool place to park your smartphone; comfortable seats
- Dislikes: Transmission twitchy at low speeds
Kia has killed the Optima – long live the K5! Despite the name change, and the sleek new look, the K5 retains many of the Optima’s best qualities, including roominess and ride comfort. Only a jerky transmission detracts from the experience. We drove one for a week, and these are our impressions.
How It Drives
I own a 2015 Kia Optima, and I love driving it, even given its age. It’s very quick off the line, has a firm but comfortable ride, and is very roomy for a larger guy like myself.
The new K5 gets a transmission that I think is meant to be more “refined,” meaning that it eases into its acceleration, especially from a stop. However, when driving at low speeds, that means it has to hunt for the right gear. At one point, the car “slammed” into second gear, giving us quite a jolt. It could be because it’s in its first model year, but it’s definitely less enjoyable than the older model.
The K5’s handling is at least as good as the old Optima’s was, and that was average among midsize sedans. The steering is only fairly responsive, but there’s virtually no body lean, which gives drivers confidence when taking sweeping freeway ramps.
Interior Interior Comfort & Quality
This is where the Optima shone. The K5 continues that tradition, and improves upon it. The front seats are very comfortable, even on long road trips, and the rear seats have plenty of legroom and headroom for taller adults. The finishes throughout the cockpit are very nice, bordering on premium.
The K5 has a refined ride; it’s firm enough that drivers know what type of road they’re traversing, but it absorbs bumps and dings without too much of that energy permeating the cabin.
Not much wind and engine noise get into the cabin, but the tires sometimes do radiate noise, especially on concrete roads.
Technology & Usability
The K5 has impressively updated technology, with a slew of standard advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS), including adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, automatic emergency braking, and blind spot warning. In fact, there are quite a few of these systems for a car that starts at around $24,000; some luxury cars don’t have these features as standard, and some don’t even offer them as options.
The coolest feature to me is the slot reserved for your smartphone, just in front of the center storage bin. It has a trap door that hides the phone, so it’s close but out of the way. Wireless charging is built into that slot, so the phone can recharge while it’s in there. Pretty nifty!
The K5 has a 10.25-inch-wide touchscreen, but unfortunately, it doesn’t give over the entire screen to Apple CarPlay if you use it. It maintains a second screen for another data point. It would be better if you could see more of the CarPlay navigation map.
Carfax vehicle overviews let shoppers compare a vehicle’s specs against its competitors. However, some aspects of a vehicle – performance, comfort, usability – can only be evaluated through actual driving. That’s why we evaluate as many vehicles as we can, so you’ll know what to expect.
2021 Kia K5 Safety Ratings & Features
The previous generation Optima sedan scored the coveted Top Safety Pick+ award from IIHS, with scores of Good (the highest possible score) in all crash tests.
NHTSA gave the outgoing Optima a perfect five-star overall ranking in its own series of crash tests.
Key Standard Features
- Forward collision warning: Warns drivers of a potential front-end collision.
- Automatic emergency braking: Helps vehicles avoid a collision or reduce the severity of a crash if the driver doesn’t respond in time.
- Pedestrian detection: System warns drivers to apply the brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian in the vehicle’s path; some can detect bicyclists and/or animals.
- Driver attention monitor: Monitors the driver and emits a visible and audible warning if the system detects a lack of attention.
Key Optional Features
- Rear cross-traffic alert: Warns drivers if the system detects a vehicle, pedestrian, or object in the way, or approaching from either side. Some systems will auto-brake.
- Blind spot warning: Alerts drivers when a vehicle is located next to them on either side, just out of view. Some systems also auto-steer away from nearby vehicles.
- Highway driving assist: Automatically adjusts speed to match posted speed limits.
- Rear car-approach warning: Keeps rear doors locked when the system senses a vehicle approaching from behind on either side.
2021 Kia K5 Interior
- Standard 8-inch touchscreen
- Optional 10.25-inch high-resolution touchscreen
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility
- Wireless smartphone charging
- Available 12-speaker Bose audio system
- Optional navigation with real-time traffic info
- Available natural voice recognition commands
- Cabin storage areas: Glovebox, center console bin under the armrest, door pockets front and back, sunglasses holder
Good for the class? The Kia K5 offers an impressive level of standard and available comfort and tech features.
- The Kia K5 offers 16 cubic feet of cargo space.
Good for the class? This is average for a midsize sedan.
Good for the class? There is room for 5 people aboard the 2021 Kia K5 sedan. The previous Optima was notable for offering plenty of legroom for front and rear occupants. With its slightly longer length and wheelbase, Kia has been able to slightly increase front legroom in the K5. Rear legroom remains nearly identical to the outgoing Optima.
2021 Kia K5 Warranty
- 5 years / 60,000 miles bumper-to-bumper. Covers many parts and systems, but does not include consumables such as brakes, tires, wiper blades, shocks or struts.
- 10 years / 100,000 miles powertrain protection.
- All warranties are measured from the date the first owner purchases the car. They are transferable to used car buyers.
Good for the class? Kia’s warranties are excellent among the midsize sedan segment.
Specs & Features
- Everlasting Silver
- Passion Red
- Ebony Black
- Glacial White Pearl
Wheel and tire type
- Wheel Diameter: 16.0 X 6.5 Inches
- Tire Type: P205/65R16 95H
Available exterior features
- Door Handle Color: Body-color
- Exhaust: Dual Tip, Integrated
- Exhaust Tip Color: Chrome
- Front Bumper Color: Body-color
- Grille Color: Silver
- Mirror Color: Body-color
- Rear Bumper Color: Body-color
- Window Trim: Black
- Front Track Width: 64.3 Inches
- Ground Clearance: 5.3 Inches
- Height: 56.9 Inches
- Length: 193.1 Inches
- Rear Track Width: 64.6 Inches
- Wheelbase: 112.2 Inches
- Width: 73.2 Inches
- Curb Weight: 3,115 Pounds
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 4,354 Pounds
- Side Mirror Adjustments: Power
- Side Mirrors: Heated
- Center Console Trim: Metallic
- Dash Trim: Metallic, Wood
- Door Sill Trim: Scuff Plate
- Floor Material: Carpet
- Interior Accents: Metallic-tone
- Shift Knob Trim: Urethane
- Steering Wheel Trim: Urethane
- Air Filtration
- Front Air Conditioning: Automatic Climate Control
- Front Air Conditioning Zones: Dual
- Power Locks: Anti-lockout
- Power Locks: Auto-locking
- Cargo Volume: 16 Cubic Feet
- Passenger Volume: 105.3 Cubic Feet
- Front Headroom: 40.2 Inches
- Rear Headroom: 37.8 Inches
- Front Hip Room: 56.6 Inches
- Rear Hip Room: 56.6 Inches
- Front Legroom: 46.1 Inches
- Rear Legroom: 35.2 Inches
- Max Seating: 5
- Seating Rows: 2
- Front Shoulder Room: 58 Inches
- Rear Shoulder Room: 56.1 Inches
- Standard Seating: 5
- Antenna Type: Mast
- Auxiliary Audio Input: Bluetooth, USB, IPod/iPhone
- Radio: AM/FM, HD Radio, Touch Screen Display
- Radio Data System
- Speed Sensitive Volume Control
- Total Speakers: 6
- Connected In-car Apps: Google POIs, Google Search
- Infotainment Screen Size: 8 In.
- Smartphone Integration: Wireless Android Auto, Wireless Apple CarPlay
- Electronic Messaging Assistance: Voice Operated, With Read Function
- Phone: Hands Free
- Wireless Data Link: Bluetooth
- 6-Way Manual Driver Seat Adjustments
- Bucket Front Seats
- 6-Way Manual Passenger Seat Adjustments
- Rear Seat
- Upholstery: Cloth
- Digital Odometer
- Driver Information System
- External Temperature Display
- Fuel Economy Display: MPG, Range
- Gauge: Tachometer
- Instrument Cluster Screen Size: 4.2 In.
- Trip Computer
- Trip Odometer
- Warnings And Reminders: Low Fuel Level, Low Washer Fluid, Tire Fill Alert
- Engine Type: 4 Cylinders
- Displacement: 1.6 Liters
- Horsepower: 180
- Torque: 195
- Front Shock Type: Gas
- Front Spring Type: Coil
- Front Stabilizer Bar
- Front Struts: MacPherson
- Front Suspension Classification: Independent
- Front Suspension Type: Lower Control Arms
- Rear Shock Type: Gas
- Rear Spring Type: Coil
- Rear Stabilizer Bar
- Rear Suspension Classification: Independent
- Rear Suspension Type: Multi-link
- Transmission Type: 8-Speed Shiftable Automatic
- Type: A
- Gears: 8
- Fuel Type: Gasoline
- City (MPG): 27
- Highway (MPG): 37
- Combined (MPG): 31
- Axle Ratio: 3.37
- Drive Mode Selector
- Aerodynamic Drag: 0.27
- New Car Basic Warranty: 60 Months/60,000 Miles
- Battery Warranty: 36 Months/36,000 Miles
- Non-Transferable Powertrain: Drivetrain/Powertrain: 120 Months/100,000 Miles
- Corrosion: Rust: 60 Months/100,000 Miles
- Child Safety Door Locks
- Lane Keeping Assist
- Electronic Stability Control: Standard
- Energy Absorbing Steering Column
- Rearview Monitor: in Dash
- Side Impact Airbags: Standard
- Automatic Emergency Braking: Front/front Pedestrian
- Lane Deviation Sensors
- Child Seat Anchors: LATCH System
- Check Rear Seat Reminder
- Crumple Zones: Front/rear
- Camera System: Rearview
- Pre-collision Warning System: Audible Warning/pedestrian Detection/visual Warning
- Driver Attention Alert System
- Body Side Reinforcements: Side Impact Door Beams
- Anti-lock Brakes Four Wheel: Standard
- Front Driver Airbags: Standard
- Impact Sensor: Door Unlock
- Daytime Running Lights: Standard
- Front Passenger Airbags: Standard
- Emergency Interior Trunk Release
- Brake Assist: Standard
- Side Curtain Airbags: Standard
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