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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

2021 Kia K5 GT AWD: A New Name, A New Design


Highlight: The K5 was formerly known as the Optima.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $31,300 (Base SE Model: $24,455)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags; ABS; an electronic stability control system; a traction control system; a rear camera; a hill start assist system; a forward collision avoidance system; a lane keep assist system; a driver attention warning system; a high beam assist system; temporary spare tire; and a tire pressure monitoring system

Standard Equipment (LX): 16-inch wheels; front wheel drive; an 8-speed automatic transmission; a fuel saving stop and go system; a single exhaust muffler; an automatic brake hold feature; cloth seats; a manual operated tilt-telescopic steering wheel; front seatback pockets; a dual zone automatic a/c; and an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system


Standard Equipment (GT): 18-inch wheels; paddle mounted steering wheel; LED foglights; a manual tilt-telescopic steering wheel; cloth and leather-like seats; power driver’s seat; 60/40 second row seats with adjustable headrests; rear seat armrest with cupholder; a leather wrapped steering wheel; a push button ignition starter; a variety of driving modes; a rear spoiler; an electronic blindspot system; a rear traffic cross alert system; a lane keep assist system; and wireless charging

Optional Features On Test Vehicle: exterior paint color; red seats; a 10-inch infotainment screen with a navigation system; a radar activated cruise control system; a highway driving assist system; an all-wheel drive system; heated front seats; a heated steering wheel; a forward collision assist system -cyclist; a forward collision assist system – junction turning;  radar activated cruise control system; and overhead interior lighting

Other Trims:

LXS

EX

GT

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 6-speaker AM/FM/HD

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto: Yes

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Depending On Trim

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder/180-hp

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage: 29-city/38-hwy


What’s New: The K5, which replaces the Optima, is all-new for the 2021 model years. Its wears a new name, new styling directions, more high-tech features and an optional all-wheel drive configuration.

Why: The K5 is the Optima’s replacement. There is only an $100 increase from last year’s model. The 2021 model carries a new name, a new fastback design and adds an optional all-wheel drive configuration. While the vehicle shares a platform, with its sibling, the Hyundai Sonata, the exterior and interior stylings are quite distinct. The Korean automaker hasn’t simply added a different badge on the hood of the vehicles like was the case with a number of its domestic competitors years ago.

The front-wheel drive Kia is in a segment that is attempting to steer clear from becoming extinct, as a result of consumers thirst for crossovers, car-based utility vehicles. The stylish five passenger K5 is available in a variety of trim levels with a 4-cylinder engine. The trim levels range from a LX to a LXS to a GT to an EX.

Currently, the affordable K5, which has a starting price under $25,000, is only available with a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, which pushes out 180-horsepower. A throatier 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged, which pumps out 295-horsepower is coming soon. That’s our preference. For those seeking a more thrilling driving experience, they should hold out for that one.

While the earlier produced K5s  are only available with one powertrain, Kia has still managed to add some flair to the model. Our vehicle was optioned out with red leather-like seats, a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment screen, a radar activated cruise control system and a highway driving assist system. Yes the GT model was definitely a looker, although we would have opted for more horses underneath the hood to match the fierce design. Also the ride and handling capabilities were on par with others in the segment. 

Furthermore, our K5 was outfitted with a panoramic roof, a wireless charger, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a forward collision avoidance assist system for cyclist and junction turning.

There also a number of new safety aids that are available on the K5 that didn't make it on to our test vehicle. Some of those features range from an safe exit assist system to a parking distance warning-reverse system to a parking collision avoidance assist system.

Lastly, the K5, like its sibling the Sonata, still offers one of the best new vehicle warranties in the midsize segment.

But: There is almost a $4,000 price spread between the front wheel drive and all-wheel drive configuration.

There is no hybrid model available in the K5. Consumers seek a hybrid model have the option to buying the Optima.

Moreover, each trim level should have the ability to add a pricey all-wheel drive system.

And unfortunately, the performance-oriented 2.5-liter engine, which pushes out close to 300-horsepower is only available in the front wheel drive GT. The exclusive 2.5-liter engine is the only model designed with a sports-tuned suspension system. There isn’t an all-wheel drive configuration available with the peppier 295-horsepower engine that is only reserved for the GT trim.

Lastly, the redesign infotainment system isn’t as user friendly as the outgoing one in the Optima. Without reading a manual, we found that it takes a few additional steps to program a radio station.


Verdict: For buyers seeking a value-packed stylish midsize family sedan with an upscale fastback roof design, the K5 is a worthy contender in its segment. Kia has decided to invest in a segment where both Ford and Dodge backed out of, while counting on customers to step into pricier crossovers.

Competition: Chevrolet Malibu; Honda Accord; Nissan Altima; Toyota Camry; VW Passat; and Subaru Legacy

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