FRESH MEAT, CUT THE WAY WE LIKE IT: 2021 KIA K5 1.6T
As hard as it may be to accept, the sedan is dying, so it is up to these automotive designers and engineers to start thinking a little more outside the box. It comes as no surprise then with Kia and their forward thinking efforts that their all-new mid-size sedan is daring to be different.
Making the drastic move of changing names from Optima to a simple, more dignified, K5, it is evident that Kia is building towards a new soul when it comes to playing in the mid-size segment. There is something oddly appealing about the K5, even with our sampler arriving in its mid-grade EX form. Kia allowed their designers to have a bit of fun as it almost looks like something out of the Terminator movies. It features a futuristic presentation with a slump chiseled nose and optional contrasting amber LED daytime running lights. The design is fluid and consentient as it’s carried to the rear of the vehicle with body wrapping LED taillights that looks like lane lines on a divided highway.
The K5 kicks things off in its most entry level LX application starting at $23,590 and can see upwards into the mid-$30,000 supporting the GT badge and its extra oomph in performance. With everything getting turbo crazy, the K5 isn’t short of its turbocharged engine offerings. The obvious choice would be the newly engineered 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that supports 290-horsepower from its premium Genesis brand; however, as that engine is reserved for the $30,590 GT, everything else below makes due with its standard 1.6-liter turbocharged engine.
Kia’s 1.6-turbo isn’t necessarily a bummer, instead it carries a fruitful glee of energy with 180-horsepower. Connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission, its quite the spirited sedan with sporty characteristics that can achieve 60-mph in about 7-seoncds. The transmission is swift with a connected sensation that present refined responsiveness. If only we could get the suspension on the same level, the K5 might be close to being a superior mid-sized sedan.
Being a step down from the GT, our sampled EX is as high as one can get in the K5 series before getting into the performance junk grand tourer. From the outside looking in, the design team continued to have their playdates by generating an inviting atmosphere. Naturally, the K5 does what it does best at being a sedan and provides all the comforts of a mid-size sedan with ample space in the front and rear that supports plenty of stretch out space. This mid-range model felt more premium than it should with warm wood accidents, metal trimming and comfortable faux leather seats. Opting for the $3400 EX Premium Package, our K5 EX was equipped with the upgraded 10.25-inch touch screen infotainment system that highlighted a crisp display and was equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Strangely the standard 8-inch touch screen system comes equipped with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, but the larger 10-inch requires us to physically plug in our cord.
Keeping to its competitive nature, there is no shortage of standard safety equipment as all K5’s come equipped with forward collision warning with active braking, pedestrian and bicycle detection, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, automatic high beam assist and adaptive cruise control. The K5 also steps up its technology game with wireless charging, USB ports for the rear passengers and blind spot monitoring.
The mid-size sedan segment is more competitive than a high school football game. With there being the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata and the Mazda 6, the Kia K5 is the freshest sedan on the market.
Vehicle: 2021 Kia K5 EX
Base Price: $23,590
As-Tested Price: $32,355
Engine: 1.6-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder
HP | Torque: 180-HP |195 lb-ft of Torque
Transmission: 8-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic
Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive
MPG: 27 | 37| 31 (City | Highway | Combined)
As-Tested MPG: 29.3-MPG City (Highway MPG testing is currently suspended due to high fuel prices)
Fuel Range: 400 miles
0-60 MPH: ±7.0 seconds