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2021 Toyota Camry vs. 2021 Kia K5: Which Is Better?

There are no more mainstream family sedans than when it comes to the 2021 Toyota Camry and the 2021 Kia K5. Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • Toyota continues to add options like the availability of all-wheel drive.
  • Kia K5 is an all-new model that replaces the Kia Optima.

2021 Toyota Camry

2021 Toyota Camry

Base Price: $25,000 (est.) / Read our 2021 Toyota Camry Review

What we like: Choice of powertrains including V6 and hybrid; available AWD; sporty TRD trim; Toyota reliability and resale

What we would change: Make the styling less fussy; add a PHEV variant

Overview: Toyota is one of the benchmarks in the segment for reliability and resale. Not content to rest on those laurels, it is upping its game considerably with the Camry. While the sedan’s styling may be a bit edgy, the chassis delivers solid handling, and Toyota remains the only competitor to offer V6 power in the category. It also offers a fuel-efficient hybrid option and added AWD to the portfolio. However, if you opt for the latter, you have to make do with the less powerful base 4-cylinder engine. We also like the fact that Camry has room in the lineup for a sporty TRD variant.

What’s new for 2021: Updated  7- and 9-inch infotainment touchscreens. Toyota also adds its Safety Sense 2.5+ system, the latest version of its standard active and driver-assistance suite. The Camry also gets a slightly restyled front end.

Features and technology: There are no fewer than nine trim levels of the Camry, and that’s after dropping the base L trim. Buyers can choose from LE, SE, XLE, and XSE models in both standard and hybrid variants. Toyota also offers blacked-out Nightshade trim and the performance-oriented TRD model with a tauter suspension. LE and XLE are equipped for comfort, SE, and XSE more sporty in execution.

The base LE includes an 8-way power driver’s seat, 60/40-split/folding rear seats, an alarm system, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The newly updated standard infotainment system includes a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa integration. SE models add sport seats, 18-in wheels, single-zone automatic climate control, and SofTex vinyl upholstery.

What does the future hold: With the addition last year of AWD and the TRD trim, we expect Toyota to stand pat on the current Camry lineup for the foreseeable future.  See 2021 Toyota Camry models for sale near you

2021 Kia K5

2021 Kia K5

Base price: $24,455 / See our 2021 Kia K5 Review

What we like: Handsome looks; optional all-wheel drive; sharp interior; great warranty

What we would change: Add knobs to the infotainment system; add a hybrid option; more rear headroom

Overview: Replacing the Optima as Kia’s midsize sedan, the 2021 Kia K5 comes out swinging with a choice of turbocharged engines, lively handling, and sharp looks, including Kia’s new signature “tiger face” grille and headlights. The base 1.6-liter turbo sends power through an 8-speed automatic, with the top GT model getting a 290-hp turbo and a sport-tuned transmission. The K5’s handsome cabin includes an instrument panel that blends into a new infotainment display for a futuristic look, accented with either a satin-metallic or pseudo wood finish. The base model LX is a bit bare-bones, with a cloth interior, but the number of features and options expands significantly at the upper trim levels. As the K5 is brand-new for 2021, resale value is unknown, but buyers can at least take some comfort in Kia’s class-leading 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

What’s new for 2021: The Kia K5 is brand-new for 2021, based on an all-new chassis. 

Features and technology: The 2021 Kia K5 is offered in five trim levels, with only the top GT trim getting the 2.5-liter turbo with an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission and a sport-tuned suspension. The base LX trim offers cloth seats, but the next up, the LXS includes Kia’s Uvo infotainment system, a blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic assist. Not to be confused with the GT, the GT-Line is more of an appearance package, with black 18-inch wheels, different bumpers, and an optional red leatherette interior. Wireless Apple CarPlay and automatic emergency braking come standard on all trims, as well as a driver attention warning and lane-keeping assist. The rear blind-spot system and rear cross-traffic alert are not standard, however, which is too bad considering the fastback roofline and thick C-pillar.

Other available features include the Highway Driving Assistant, which adjusts speeds according to posted speed limits. The GT-Line also includes a Special Edition with black trim, LED projector headlights, and a red leatherette interior. All-wheel drive is available on all trims except the base LX, and the EX includes an optional 12-speaker Bose sound system and Sirius satellite radio.

What does the future hold: As the K5 is brand-new for 2021, we expect only minor tweaks of available features and possibly different paint options. We would like to see a hybrid join the lineup as well. Find 2021 Kia K5 models for sale near you

Camry vs. K5: Strengths comparison

Toyota Camry Benefits: More drivetrain choices including a hybrid, reliability, and strong resale value.

Kia K5 Benefits: Less expensive for top models; longer warranty.

2021 Toyota Camry vs. 2021 Kia K5: Which is better?

If you’re looking for an AWD sedan that meets your commuting needs, you really can’t go wrong with either the 2021 Toyota Camry or the 2021 Kia K5. We like the K5 a bit better than the Camry for its more unique styling and longer warranty. The truth is you can’t go wrong with either of these vehicles. Find a Toyota Camry for sale or Find a Kia K5 for sale

Popular Powertrains 2021 Toyota Camry 2021 Kia K5
Engine 2.5-liter I4 1.6-liter turbo I4
Horsepower 203 hp @ 6,600 rpm 180 hp @ 5,000 rpm
Torque 182 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm 105 lb-ft @ 1,500rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 32 mpg (28 city/39 highway) 32 mpg (29 city/38 highway)
Also Available 3.5-liter V6; I4 Hybrid; AWD 2.5-liter turbo I4; 8-spd DCT
Basic warranty 3 years/ 36,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 10 years/100,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 star n/a
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 111.2 inches 112.2 inches
Overall Length 192.1 inches 193.1 inches
Width 72.4 inches 73.2 inches
Height 56.9 inches 56.9 inches
Turning Diameter 37.4 feet 36.0 feet
Headroom, Front 38.3 inches 40.2 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.0 inches 37.8 inches
Legroom, Front 42.1 inches 46.1 inches
Legroom, Rear 38.0 inches 35.2 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 57.7 inches 58.0 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.7 inches 56.1 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 100.4 cubic feet 105.3 cubic feet
EPA Cargo Volume 15.1 cubic feet 16.0 cubic feet

Abigail Bassett
Abigail Bassett
Abigail Bassett is a freelance journalist based in L.A. and she's covered automotive topics for a variety of well-known outlets including Fortune, Forbes, CNN and Motor Trend. She's also a television and video host and regularly covers breaking news, social justice, technology, health and wellness, and science in addition to her car coverage. When she's not working on her next project she's... Read More about Abigail Bassett

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