A blue 2021 Kia K5 from a Kia dealer is parked in an empty lot.

Big Shoes To Fill: All-New 2021 Kia K5

Are you looking for a high-quality vehicle from your local Kia dealer? If so, you should consider the all-new 2021 Kia K5. To the trained eye, the Kia K5 is quite familiar, and this is because it’s essentially the Kia Optima under a new moniker. The name “K5” was derived from Optima’s name in other countries and has since been adopted by the US market. In addition to this, the entire lineup has been refreshed, leaving not too much resemblance between this new take on the classic lineup and its predecessors. Kia has foregone the Optima, and after spending time with the newly released K5, it’s easy to understand why.

Available Trims

The new arrangement of trims begins with the LX, which has a starting MSRP of $23,590. While the LX is the base trim, its assortment of included features doesn’t suggest this and certainly will impress aspiring shoppers. In addition to 16-inch wheels and Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control for heat or A/C, more advanced amenities such as various safety features and an intuitive infotainment center are featured prominently.

The LXS is the next available trim for the K5. This trim adds a few extras, namely the addition of safety features such as Blind-Spot Collision Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist. With both of these safety features, your K5 will not only warn you if your blindspot is blocked but will alert you to any vehicles passing by when reversing out of a parking space.

If you’re looking for more of a sporty flair with your 2021 K5, then opting for the GT-Line trim is the best way to do so. This trim stands out amongst the crowd with a vicious exterior that borders between style and luxury, along with LED lights on the front and back. For a stronger emphasis on luxury, however, the EX is the trim for you. This trim wraps your steering wheel in leather and includes an immensely comfortable power-adjustable driver’s seat along with lumbar support. Additionally, you’ll receive 18-inch wheels and a sunroof with this trim, which will allow for more natural light in your cabin and better airflow on a breezy day.

Lastly, the GT is at the top of the list and is the best K5 that you can currently purchase. This trim replaces the stock engine found in every preceding trim with a better 2.5L turbo I-4, which vastly increases its power output. The wheels on your K5 will be upgraded once again, this time to 19-inch wheels. Like the GT-Line, this trim is more sports-oriented. Unlike the GT-Line, however, this trim includes paddle shifters and a sport-tuned suspension amongst a plethora of additional sport-oriented features. Aside from these enhancements, the interior is treated to a trove of new features such as wireless charging pads and an even more robust infotainment center.

A grey 2021 Kia K5 is driving on a city street.

How Does the New K5 Perform?

There are two powertrain configurations for the K5. As previously mentioned, the stock engine comes with every trim, aside from the GT. This engine is a turbocharged 1.6L I-4 that produces 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. While driving, you’ll notice exceptionally smooth gear shifting as a result of its pairing to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Because this engine is turbocharged, it’s able to provide excellent fuel-efficiency with EPA-estimated ratings of 29 MPG city and 38 MPG highway with front-wheel drive.

With the GT trim comes an upgraded turbocharged engine, this time in the form of a 2.5L I-4. This engine is capable of producing an impressive 290 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque, which is approximately 61% more horsepower and 59% greater torque output than the base engine. Unlike the base engine, this more powerful offering is paired to a dual-clutch automatic transmission, which is also 8-speed. With this increase in power, fuel efficiency is slightly altered. However, you’ll still achieve a noteworthy 24 MPG city and 32 MPG highway.

Inside the K5

One glance inside of the all-new K5’s interior, and you’ll be impressed, to say the least. Like most sedans, it has a maximum seating capacity of five passengers. Both you and your passengers will be pleased with the vast amount of space in the interior and will avoid feeling cramped. The overall headroom your cabin will offer is dependent on whether you’ve opted for the sunroof or not.

With the sunroof equipped, you’ll have 38.4-inches of headroom in the front and 37.4-inches in the back. Without this sunroof, your cabin will have 40.2-inches of headroom up front and 37.8-inches for the rear-row. Legroom space is also ample, with 46.1-inches for front-row passengers and 35.2-inches behind. Like most sedans, its available cargo space is limited to 16.0 cu.ft. but still provides plenty of space for everyday cargo.

Connectivity features are fully implemented on the Kia K5. Coming standard is a user-friendly infotainment center, displayed on an 8-inch screen. While Bluetooth is also included for wireless audio playback via your smartphone, it’s the available upgraded infotainment center that impresses. This updated infotainment center will be implemented depending on the trim and configuration you’ve opted for. What sticks out the most, however, is it’s aptly sized 10.25-inch screen. With this infotainment center, the K5 feels far more futuristic than its base level counterparts.

The addition of wireless phone charging through an integrated charging pad is complemented by the inclusion of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Typically, these two software suites are accessible through a USB connection. While the K5 still features USB ports alongside its infotainment centers, wireless connectivity allows you to keep your phone in your pocket but still access the incredible features of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Once you’ve connected your smartphone, you’ll have full access to the most important functions of your device. These features include sending text messages, making phone calls, or changing the currently playing song. However, to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, you can perform these functions with your voice with the help of built-in virtual assistants such as Siri, for example. Should you prefer even more functionality on your infotainment center, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto feature app stores that allow you to customize your experience further.

The wheel and screen inside a 2021 Kia K5 are shown.

What’s Next for the K5?

Kia has presented itself with a unique opportunity with the K5. For every resemblance that it has with its Optima roots, there’s a difference as well. The K5 looks to achieve the popularity that the Optima didn’t reach in its final days on the market, and so far, it seems to be paying off for Kia. Fans and critics alike have expressed interest in the K5, lending comparisons to the outgoing lineup and standing tall amongst the competition. Like the Optima before it, the K5 is nestled in the middle of Kia’s catalog of sedans. This means the K5 won’t break the bank but will still offer you an exceptional experience through and through.

As the lineup has been fully refreshed, the K5 has some ways to go before it becomes commonplace in the market. Within the next couple of years, we suspect Kia will continue to add to the already excellent foundation it has developed with the K5. In addition to this, the K5 is too new of a lineup to appear on any pre-owned listings just yet, but we imagine it’ll slowly find dominance in the used market. Combined with Kia’s knack for quality, the future looks very bright for this beloved manufacturer, especially with new lineups such as the 2021 K5 under its belt.