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2021 Kia K5 Review

The all-new 2021 Kia K5 is a 2021 Kia Optima by any other name. The K5 replaces that highly successful midsize sedan, which spearheaded Kia’s U.S. success for nearly a decade and was also available as a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid.

While we at Autorader like the Optima name, we can understand why Kia gave its mainstream midsize sedan a new name. With its fastback roofline, its added length and its lower and wider stance, the K5 represents a very different type of midsize sedan, one that’s loaded with standard safety equipment and goes on sale this summer.

For the record, the Kia K5 is two inches longer than the Optima, and its wheelbase is up by 1.8 inches. It’s also an inch wider, while having a roof that’s nearly an inch lower.

Two engines are available. The first, a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, puts out 290 horsepower and a substantial 311 lb-ft of torque. It teams with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The second, a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, makes 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. It bolts to a new 8-speed conventional automatic transmission.

An all-wheel-drive K5 arrives late this year. Its electro-hydraulic coupling distributes torque fore and aft as needed.

Four trim levels will be available initially: KX, LXS, GT-Line, and EX. A sporty K5 GT arrives later this fall.

K5 competitors include the Chevrolet Malibu, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy and Volkswagen Passat.

What’s New for 2021?

The 2021 Kia K5 is an all-new vehicle based on the company’s third-generation N3 platform. It’s longer, lower and wider than the current Optima, and has been tuned for sportier driving dynamics. The turbocharged 2.5-liter engine also is new, along with the two respective automatic transmissions. See the 2021 Kia K5 models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Dramatic fastback styling
  • Roomier interior
  • Optional AWD
  • Turbo engines
  • Wireless Apple CarPay

What We Don’t

  • No hybrid or PHEV yet
  • AWD model arrives in late 2020
  • Wireless Apple Carplay not available with larger infotainment screen

How Much?

est $25,000-$35,000

Fuel Economy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn’t tested a 2021 Kia K5 yet.

Standard Features & Options

The 2021 Kia K5 will be available with a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine or a turbo 2.5-liter engine, plus wireless Apple CarPlay and a large selection of standard safety equipment. This includes automatic emergency braking (with pedestrian and cyclist protection), a driver-attention warning, and lane-keep assist. A blind-spot system and rear-cross-traffic alert aren’t standard on this new midsize Kia sedan, but we think they should be.

Besides all-wheel drive, the 2021 Kia K5 can be ordered with various parking aids and Highway Driving Assistant, which automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed to the posted limits. It’s also available with smart cruise control that uses map data to learn the road and slow the K5 before curves if necessary. The K5 also can be ordered with a system that will apply the brakes automatically if it senses oncoming traffic when you are turning across oncoming traffic.


In addition to automatic emergency braking (with pedestrian and cyclist protection), a driver-attention warning, and lane-keep assist, the 2021 Kia K5 is available with Highway Driving Assist, which uses information from the navigation system to adjust the K5’s speed based on posted limits.

Behind the Wheel

Autotrader hasn’t had a chance to drive the 2021 Kia K5 yet. That should happen soon. Check back.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Honda Accord Fun to drive and ever so practical, the Accord makes a compelling argument for the value of a good midsize sedan.

2020 Toyota CamryThe Camry went the lower and wider route long before Kia did with its Optima and K5. Still the benchmark in dependability. There’s an AWD version, too.

2020 Mazda 6 Don’t want to see yourself coming and going, but like a midsize sedan with sporty manners? The 6 is for you.

2020 Hyundai Sonata The K5’s corporate cousin is an impressive machine in just about every way. Also available as a hybrid. Not as attractive as the new Kia K5.

Used BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe If you’re smitten by swoopy rooflines on a sedan body, consider one that’s especially rewarding to drive – a used BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. Go through BMW’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program.

Questions You May Ask

Is the new Kia K5 larger than the Optima?

It is. The K5 is two inches longer than the Optima, and its wheelbase is up by 1.8 inches. Also, the K5 is an inch wider than the Optima, with a roof height that has been lowered by 0.8 inches.

Where does Kia build the new K5 sedan?

The brand-new Kia K5 sedan is made in West Point, Georgia, alongside the Telluride SUV.

When does the 2022 Kia K5 go on sale?

The new midsize Kia K5 sedan goes on sale this summer as a 2022 model.

Does the Kia K5 have a smaller engine than the turbocharged 2.5-liter four with 290 horsepower?

It does. The 2022 Kia K5 also is available with a direct-injected 1.6-liter inline-4 with 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. It mates to an 8-speed automatic.

Autotrader’s Advice

We’re happy to see that Kia still believes in the sedan market, and while we’re still partial to the Optima name, the all-new K5 looks like an impressive effort. Will it draw people out of SUVs and back into sedans? The new Kia K5 makes a persuasive argument. Find a Kia K5 for sale

Where You Can Buy

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