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2021 Honda Accord vs. 2021 Kia K5: Which Is Better?

The 2021 Honda Accord is an established player in the midsize sedan segment, while the 2021 Kia K5 replaces last year’s Optima. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • Honda Accord: The Honda Accord is now ten generations old.
  • Kia K5: The Kia K5 is a brand new model that has adopted Kia’s global naming convention.

2021 Honda Accord

2021 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T in RedBase price: $25,965 / Read our 2021 Honda Accord Review

What we like: Great driving manners and comfortable interior; good reliability; available hybrid model.

What we would change: Go back to a gearshift lever rather than buttons; make AWD available.

Overview: Now in its 10th generation, the 2021 Honda Accord is still the standard-bearer for four-wheel excellence. The Accord features a responsive chassis and a lively and very engaging drive. The Accord’s base engine is a 192-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4 powerplant mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). A 252-hp 2.0-liter turbo inline 4-cylinder is available on the Honda Accord Sport, and standard on the Accord Touring model, with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The Accord Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter inline-4 and an electric motor-generator for a total of 212 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque.

Gas-powered Accords are available in LX, Sport, Sport SE, EX-L and Touring models, while the Hybrid is available in Hybrid, EX, EX-L and Touring trim levels.

The Accord’s gear selection is via a set of buttons and switches on the center console. The base engine is good for approximately 33 mpg while the 2.0-liter turbo returns 26 mpg. The Accord Hybrid can achieve up to 48 mpg depending on trim level.

The 2021 Accord features coupe-like styling that is currently all the rage. The view from the front seat is good, thanks to the narrow A-pillars. The rear seat legroom is expansive, though care must be taken when entering and exiting. Trunk space is best in class.

What’s new for 2021: The base LX gets the 8-inch touchscreen used by the other trim levels. A new Sport SE trim replaces the previous EX 1.5T. A Rear Seat Reminder system is added, and Touring trims get a low-speed auto-braking feature. Both turbo engines have improved throttle mapping, and the brakes have been recalibrated for smoother operation. Finally, Honda has discontinued the manual transmission from the Accord.

Features and technology: All Honda Accord trims now include an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wireless in the top three trims). These newer touchscreens are now upgraded with knobs for volume and tuning. Navigation is optional on the EX-L and standard on the Touring, which also gets a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot, wireless device charging, and a head-up display. The long list of standard active-safety features includes lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beams, and a driver attention monitor. Most trims include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

What does the future hold: AWD is now available on some of the Accord’s competitors including the Kia K5 and Toyota Camry. We could see the Accord adding that feature at some point. See 2021 Honda Accord models for sale near you

2021 Kia K5

2021 Kia K5 Front Right Side in SilverBase price: $24,455 / Read our 2021 Kia K5 review 

What we like: Stinger-inspired looks; sharp interior; choice of engines; optional all-wheel drive.

What we would change: Make blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert standard on all trim levels; include knobs on infotainment system; add a hybrid option.

Overview: The 2021 Kia K5 is a brand-new model replacing the Kia Optima after a job well done. The K5 incorporates Kia’s “tiger nose” grille and adds a fastback Stinger-inspired roofline but with plenty of headroom for passengers. There’s plenty of technology too and a choice of 1.6- or 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engines. Power goes to the front wheels, although all-wheel drive is available ($2,100) with both engines.

Trim levels start with base LX, which is powered by the smaller engine and includes cloth seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Next up is the LXS which includes much more, and adds additional driver-assist and safety features.

There’s a level of refinement in the K5 and while the smaller engine is a touch underpowered, its torque helps to move it along. A center console switch varies drive modes from Normal through Sport and tailors the engine, steering, and transmission response accordingly. Upscale GT-Line, and EX add even more features. Unlike the Optima, however, there is no hybrid available at present. As with all Kias, the 2021 K5 includes a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

What’s new for 2021: Everything. The 2021 Kia K5 is a brand-new model.

Features and technology: There are four trim levels of the 2021 Kia K5. The base LX model includes a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, a cloth interior, and a rear bench seat. Step up to the LXS, with a split-folding rear seat, UVO infotainment system, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic assist. The GT-Line 1.6 is mostly an appearance package, adding 18-inch black wheels, LED foglamps, sporty front and rear bumpers, a gloss-black rear spoiler, cloth and leatherette seat trim, and gloss-black outside mirrors.

The EX trim adds Qi wireless smartphone charging, heated front seats, an optional 12-speaker Bose sound system, panoramic sunroof, and SXM satellite radio. The topline GT 2.5T trim is the only one that gets the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT), paddle shifters, a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, quad-tip dual mufflers, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. All trim levels include wireless Apple CarPlay and automatic emergency braking, as well as a driver-attention warning and lane-keeping assist.

Available options include the Highway Driving Assistant, which uses information from the navigation system to adjust the speed to the posted speed limits. Look for a special edition AWD GT-Line trim in Wolf Gray with a red leatherette interior, LED projector headlights, and gloss black B-pillar trim.

What does the future hold: As the K5 is brand-new for 2021, expect just minor trim changes, and updated driver-assist and safety options. As its predecessor the Optima included a hybrid, we also expect a hybrid option at some point in the near future. Find a 2021 Kia K5 for sale near you

Accord vs. K5: Strengths Comparison

Honda Accord: Fuel-sipping base engine; roomy rear seat; hybrid available now; good reliability.

Kia K5: Upscale looks; great feature set; optional AWD; excellent powertrain warranty.

2021 Honda Accord vs. 2021 Kia K5:  Which is better?

The Honda Accord is the standard by which others have been measured for so long. Thanks to its practicality and reliability, you can’t go wrong with it. The Kia K5 is the new kid on the block offering a choice of engines, front- or all-wheel-drive and a great drivetrain warranty. We think it’s just a little bit better.

See 2021 Honda Accord models for sale or Find a 2021 Kia K5 for sale

2021 Honda Accord 2021 Kia K5
Popular Powertrains
Engine 1.5-liter turbo inline-4 1.6-liter turbo inline-4
Horsepower 192 hp @ 5,500 rpm 180 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque 192 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm 195 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm
Transmission CVT 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 33 mpg (30 city/38 hwy) 32 mpg (29 city/38 hwy)
Also Available 2.0-liter turbo, 10-speed auto, available hybrid, no AWD  2.5-liter turbo, AWD, DCT
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 10 years/100,000 miles
NHTSA Safety Rating 5-star 5-star
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 111.4 inches 112.2 inches
Overall Length 196.1 inches 193.1 inches
Width 73.3 inches 73.2 inches
Height 57.1inches 56.9 inches
Turning Diameter 38.2 feet 36.0 feet
Headroom, Front 39.5 inches 40.2 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.3 inches 37.8 inches
Legroom, Front 42.3 inches 46.1 inches
Legroom, Rear 40.4 inches 35.2 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 53.9 inches 58 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 56.5 inches 56.1 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 105.6 cubic feet 105.3 cubic feet
Cargo Volume 16.7 cubic feet 16 cubic feet

Mark Elias
Mark Elias is a writer and photographer specializing in automotive topics ranging from new and used cars to classics and motorsports. His first car was a Matchbox Jaguar D-Type. From there, things have only become larger. During his professional career, he has been a staff photographer for the Associated Press, a contract photographer for Bloomberg News, and a contributor to automotive outlets... Read More about Mark Elias

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