2021 Kia K5 is built on the automaker’s new N3 platform.
All-wheel drive and a turbocharged engine are available.
Kia says buyers still want sedans despite the popularity of SUVs.
The automotive realm is shifting as I speak. Needless to say, we knew Kia was renaming the Optima to the K5, but we weren’t expecting it to be a stunner. Dare I say it looks better and more well-sorted than the new Hyundai Sonata? I’m beginning to notice a pattern here.
Parent company Hyundai was first to release the Kona with its alien-like intergalactic façade. And yet, Kia managed to create the Seltos compact SUV – which rides on the same underpinnings as the Kona – with its marriage of bold design and delicate details (Kia’s words, not mine).
Next came a duo of class-leading midsize SUVs: the Hyundai Palisade and Kia Telluride. The former inherited the out-of-this-world fascia of the Kona, while the latter is currently the winningest SUV in Kia’s history. Last year, the Hyundai Sonata made quite an impression with its elegant design and funky lighting signature. And now, we have the 2021 Kia K5.
Also based on the Sonata’s underpinnings, the new K5 is a refreshing sight, but it unsurprisingly resembles the Kia Stinger from many angles. And if you’re Kia, and you’re conceptualizing a new midsize sedan, infusing some Stinger DNA is a good start.
2021 Kia K5: Kia’s Most Powerful Midsize Sedan
Having gobs of power is a beautiful thing in any vehicle, most especially if said vehicle is sporting a fastback silhouette. According to Kia, the 2021 K5 is available in four trim levels, namely LX, LXS, GT-Line, and EX. All make do with a gutsy 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder with direct injection and Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology. It produces 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque, sending power to the front wheels courtesy of an eight-speed automatic.
But if you’re willing to wait a bit longer, Kia is introducing the K5 GT later in the fall. The GT receives a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-banger with 290 horsepower and 311 lb-ft. of torque. Paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic with wet clutches, it storms to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, which effectively crowns the K5 GT as Kia’s most potent midsize sedan.
The new K5 is also available with a front-biased electro-hydraulic all-wheel drivetrain. While front-wheel drive variants will go on sale initially, the first batches of K5 all-wheel drive sedans will arrive later in 2020.
My, How You’ve Grown
I’m not saying the previous-generation Kia Optima is a bad-looking car, but the new K5 is hard to ignore with its breakthrough design. I admit it’s not too different from the Hyundai Sonata when viewed from the side. But compared to the outgoing Optima, the K5 is as fresh as morning dew.
It’s also more substantial than every Optima before it. The K5 is two-inches longer, one-inch wider, and has a 1.8-inch longer wheelbase than the Optima. Even though it sits an inch lower (0.8-inches to exact), it only adds to the sporting mystique of the K5’s breakthrough design.
In the front, you get an angular face along with a modern interpretation of Kia’s ‘tiger-nose’ grille, which is now longer, wider, and more pronounced. It also gets an excellent set of headlights with funky Z-shaped daytime running lamps, a new set of 16-inch to 19-inch alloy wheels, and LED ‘dashes’ spanning the entire width of the decklid.
Technology at Its Core
The 2021 Kia K5 has a plethora of new in-cabin and safety technology. Flanking the dashboard is an eight-inch touchscreen display while a larger 10.25-inch infotainment screen is standard in upper trims. You also have Bluetooth with multi-connection capabilities (to connect up to two smartphones instantaneously) and a premium Bose audio system.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with the smaller eight-inch screen while Kia’s UVO telematics system with natural voice recognition is built-in, as well.
Other niceties include wireless charging, remote engine start, and a server-based navigation system. On the safety front, the 2021 Kia K5 is comprehensively equipped with advanced driving aids, including forward collision warning, collision avoidance assist, driver attention warning, and lane following assist.
Kia Drive Wise features include forward collision avoidance, blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert, navigation-based cruise control, and advanced highway driving assist, among others.
2021 Kia K5: Pricing & Availability
Pricing for the 2021 Kia K5 is forthcoming, although we’re guessing base prices to start at around $25,000. The all-new K5 arrives at Kia dealerships later this summer, while the K5 GT enters the fray this fall.
Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.