The Kia K5, formerly named Optima, is entirely new for 2021 and comes with a bold new exterior, luxurious interior, an efficient engine, and smoother transmission. While many American-based automakers have cut back on producing sedans in favor of SUVs, Asian-based manufacturers are going all out for the younger customer, who prefer sporty cars over their parents’ vehicles.
Although Kia K5 has a long way to catch up with the number of vehicles sold by Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, it is rapidly expanding market share due to its lower price and improved quality. The K5 is also racking up top awards and was recently ranked by Kelly Blue Book as the #3 sedan for “Best Midsize Cars for 2021”, following Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
Both Kia and Hyundai are building award-winning vehicles. Hyundai, which owns 34% of Kia Motors, share the same platforms, powertrains, and other components but have unique engineering and design.
Last year, the North American Car, Utility, and Truck of the Year Awards named The Kia Telluride the 2020 “Utility Truck of the Year,” while the Hyundai Elantra, which shares the same platform with the Kia Forte, won the “2021 North American Car of the Year”.
The 2021 Kia K5 has five trim levels: The base LX starts around $23,590, the LXS is $24,590, and the EX is $28,090 MSRP. They are powered by a 1.6-liter I-4 that gets 180 horsepower with an eight-speed automatic transmission. There are two performance models: The GT-Line, which starts at $25,490, and the sporty GT, which starts at $30,590 and generates 290 horsepower from a 2.5-liter I-4 engine.
The Kia K5, which I test drove for a week, shares a platform with the Hyundai Sonata, upgraded in 2019. The K5 operates in Normal, Smart, Sport, or Custom modes. The engine, transmission, and steering adapt to meet your driving desires. The new GT has a Sport Plus mode, while the all-wheel-drive option has a Snow mode.
Although the K5 EX doesn’t pack a lot of power, the ride is smooth, and it accelerates effortlessly. It feels like a premium luxury sedan at a discount price. The EX comes loaded with standard equipment, including a panoramic sunroof, 18-inch wheels, leatherette seats, wireless phone charging, power driver seats, parking distance warning, and more.
Other safety features include the Kia Driver-Assist Technology package with forward-collision warning/avoidance for pedestrians and vehicles, blind-spot detection, lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, high-beam assist, and electronic stability control.
The 2021 Kia K5 EX included additional options for $3,400, including navigation with a 10.5 touchscreen, Bose premium audio, a power front passenger seat with lumbar support, a heated steering wheel, smart cruise control, highway driving assist, and memory mirrors.
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