2021 Kia K5 First Drive—Making Some Buzz

Kia is on a roll. It was simply final yr the automaker launched the all-new Telluride and a brand new Soul. This yr, the all-new Seltos arrived in February, and now the K5 is touchdown in America. However these should not simply any launches; the superior design, high quality, and a focus to element in these new Kias stand out. The Telluride grew to become the primary Korean crossover to win MotorTrend’s SUV of the Year, and the charming Soul went pretty far in our Car of the Year evaluations, getting a decent third place behind the Chevrolet Corvette and Tesla Model 3. The 2021 Kia K5 is hoping to get the identical type of consideration, and with its aggressive styling, two powertrain choices, and the newest know-how, it’s making some buzz.

The K5 replaces the Optima as Kia’s midsize sedan. Executives thought the makeover was so excessive that the automobile wanted a brand new moniker. However the K5 nameplate just isn’t new—Kia has been promoting the K5 in South Korea for years and has ported the alphanumeric nomenclature for the fashions it sells there (K3 for Forte, K9 for Ok900, and many others.) to the US. Actually, we drove a Korean-spec K5 back in December.



Parting methods with the Optima, the brand new K5 will get aggressive strains impressed by the Stinger, and its new platform is wider, longer and decrease, permitting the automobile to shine much more. Its fastback profile stands out throughout the section, and the lengthy clamshell hood, Z-shaped daytime working lights, and faux air vents add a sort of sportiness that the Optima lacked. The brand new “tiger face” has been modernized to incorporate a large and skinny grille, which now features a “shark skin-inspired” mesh design.

2021 Kia K5: New engine, transmission and AWD

Not like the Optima, which supplied three totally different engines, Kia has simplified issues with the K5. The 1.6-liter turbo-four carries over from the Optima, but it surely has new know-how that permits it to provide barely extra energy and the identical torque (now 180 hp and 195 lb-ft) whereas delivering diminished emissions. A brand new eight-speed transmission is accountable for sending that energy to the entrance or all 4 wheels due to an obtainable all-wheel drive system—a primary for Kia’s midsize sedan. Within the subsequent few months, a brand new K5 GT can be completely powered by a 2.5-liter turbo-four making 290 hp and 311 lb-ft, which is mated to an eight-speed twin clutch that may ship the ability to the entrance wheels solely. That’s an enormous bounce in comparison with the two.0-liter turbo discovered within the outgoing Optima, which produces 245 hp and 260 lb-ft.

The K5 with the 1.6-liter turbo, which is arriving in sellers throughout the U.S. now, is obtainable in 4 totally different trims: LX, LXS, GT-Line and EX.

2021 Kia K5: The Drive

Though they’re mechanically an identical, we sampled the GT-Line and EX trims over a few days in Southern California. Visually, the GT-Line is distinguished by its black spoiler, twin chrome exhaust, LED fog lights, bigger (however pretend) air vents, black roof, and flat-bottom steering wheel.

On the streets and freeways, the 1.6-turbo felt acceptable for a base engine. It doesn’t really feel sporty or peppy, however Kia is reserving that for the extra highly effective GT. As an alternative, the 1.6-liter delivers simply sufficient punch to get shifting at an honest pace. Merging on the freeway is a straightforward process, rapidly catching as much as visitors with out getting exhausted. The brand new eight-speed transmission responds very nicely to the motive force’s instructions, downshifting rapidly when it must. Whether or not you’re driving at excessive or low speeds, shifts are easy and occur on the proper time. Steering is gentle however correct, whereas the suspension delivers a peaceable journey.

Our testers have been outfitted with 4 drive modes: Regular, Sensible, Sport and Customized. Sport provides stiffness to the steering, whereas the transmission holds gears longer. I spent nearly all of my drive switching between Regular and Sensible and solely used Sport when driving on twisty roads. Sensible tries to combine issues up, including a little bit of sportiness on the wheel, however staying nearer to regular situations.

Whatever the driving mode chosen, the K5 is a reasonably comfy sedan. The suspension does a pleasant job maintaining vibrations to a minimal and delivers a refined journey. The K5 felt unbothered over the bumps and ruts that the geologically unstable Portuguese Bend area on the Palos Verdes peninsula is understood for. On the twisty slopes, the sedan confirmed its finesse by delivering little physique roll and maintaining issues steady within the cabin. The tranquility within the cabin is afforded by the acoustic glass and sound-deadening supplies Kia used within the K5.

Though this time we didn’t have an opportunity to drive the two.5-liter turbo, we hope to get behind the wheel within the close to future.

2021 Kia K5: Inside

Like the outside, the K5’s inside is an enormous improve. Our fancy $32,355 EX felt nearer to a Genesis G70 with the non-obligatory 10.3-inch touchscreen, 5 USB ports, gentle leatherette seats, and different goodies like a wi-fi cellphone charger, a Bose premium audio system with 12 audio system, heated and ventilated entrance seats, and a panoramic sunroof. A brand new wooden end is used throughout the sprint, and after speaking to Kia peeps, I used to be shocked to be taught that it isn’t actual wooden; the floor and texture don’t really feel pretend. The big touchscreen is appropriate with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and comes with fashionable graphics and voice recognition. I used the voice instructions just a few occasions to alter radio stations, set instructions on the nav system, even examine the inventory market, and it labored with no points regardless of my sturdy Spanish accent.

Our GT-Line tester was a step beneath the EX, but it surely felt greater than ample for its $27,955 worth. Though the 8.0-inch touchscreen has the previous model of the UVO infotainment system, it helps wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an odd factor provided that the fancier 10.3-inch display within the EX solely works with a wired connection. As an alternative of getting the lavish—however pretend—wooden trim from the EX, the GT-Line sports activities a chic grey trim that retains the cabin refined with out wanting low-cost. The powered fabric seats with leatherette inserts really feel simply as supportive, and you continue to get dual-zone local weather controls, 5 USB ports, a wi-fi charger, and the panoramic sunroof.

Whether or not you go for the EX or GT-Line, there are some onerous plastics on the decrease a part of the door panels and the transmission tunnel.

The second row is sort of spacious when it comes to legroom and headroom regardless of the fastback profile. Visibility for my 6-foot body is a bit restricted given the thick C pillar, but it surely received’t trouble too many individuals. The rear seats can fold in a 60/40 configuration from the cargo space, however they don’t fold fully flat. Air vents for rear-seat passengers can be found solely on the EX, positioned on the middle console simply above two USB ports. Though not segment-leading, cargo house is ample at 16 cubic ft.

2021 Kia K5: Security

The K5 comes customary with just a few security applied sciences like ahead collision warning and lane following help, however drivers should pay extra for smart cruise management with cease and go or the navigation-based good cruise management, which makes use of the nav system to decelerate when there’s a curve forward. Nonetheless, these are extremely superior applied sciences which are obtainable in a $30,000 Kia.

Our EX tester was outfitted with good cruise management and the freeway driving help, which labored flawlessly on the freeway. The K5 stayed centered in its lane with out bouncing backward and forward, and although the hole between the automobile in entrance was simply large enough for different drivers to chop me off, the system utilized the brakes with out panicking.

2021 Kia K5: Ought to I Purchase It?

With a beginning worth of $24,455, the 2021 Kia K5 is sort of engaging in some ways. Wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are customary, in addition to twin zone local weather management. You could wish to transfer as much as the LXS or GT-Line to get a decently outfitted K5, however when you’re on a decent funds, the K5 LX received’t allow you to down; you’ll simply have to stay with the tiny 16-inch wheels.

Kia has as soon as once more crafted a considerate product with the brand new K5. The eye to element is seen all through the inside and exterior, and with an honest base engine, correct know-how, and superb worth, it’s making some buzz within the nonetheless extremely aggressive midsize sedan section.

2021 Kia K5 FWD EX/GT-Line
BASE PRICE $28,955/$30,055
LAYOUT Entrance-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 1.6L/180-hp/195-lb-ft turbocharged I-4
TRANSMISSION 8-speed computerized
CURB WEIGHT 3,250 lb (MT est)
WHEELBASE 112.2 in
L x W x H 193.1 x 73.2 x 56.9 in
0-60 MPH 7.5 sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON 27/37/31 mpg
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 125/91 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.63 lb/mile
ON SALE Presently

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