The midsize sedan once known as the Kia Optima has transformed into the K5. Introduced for 2021, the K5 stands out in the segment with evocative exterior styling. Yet despite those looks it remains a relatively normal car in terms of features and capabilities. The K5 is offered with a choice of turbocharged engines and available AWD. Like the Optima before it, the K5 targets sedan stalwarts like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and mechanically related Hyundai Sonata. The K5 is built in West Point, Georgia, alongside the Kia Telluride.
Woah! Check out the Kia K5's styling. If there was ever a notion that midsize sedans need to look boring, the K5 shatters it. Z-shaped headlights, a modish taillight bar, and a swoopy, sloping profile give this car presence on the road. Kia's reshaped badge better suits its aesthetics.
The real question is whether the K5's drive backs up its looks. Success—mostly. In GT spec it handles with fun agility, and the 2.5-liter turbo I-4 engine has sporty power, but ride quality on the stiffer side is a tradeoff. On the flip side, more basic trims like the EX have dull steering, and the standard 1.6-liter unit is a bit of a dud.
In terms of functionality as a midsize sedan, the K5 does well. The Kia is very spacious in the front row, if not as roomy as some competitors in the back seat. Styling and technology in the cabin are great, even if material quality isn't.
Every K5 is equipped with a turbocharged I-4 engine. The entry-level is a 1.6 liter unit that makes 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, joined to an eight-speed automatic transmission. With standard FWD, 0-60 mph acceleration takes 7.8 seconds, and fuel economy rates between 27-29 mpg city and 37-38 mpg highway depending on trim.
Exclusive to the K5 GT is a 2.5-liter engine making a stout 290 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. It sends power to the front wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic; AWD is not available. Acceleration to 60 mph drops to 5.4 seconds. Fuel economy is reduced as well, to 24/32 mpg city/highway.
Based on last year's crash test results, the 2022 K5 should receive admirable safety scores. The 2021 K5 earned a IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation, earning the highest Good score in all six crashworthiness tests. However, its headlight scores ranged from Good to the lowest score of Poor depending on trim. From the NHTSA, the 2021 K5 got the highest five-star overall safety rating, balancing four-star scores in front crash and rollover protection with a five-star side impact score.
All K5 trims are equipped with nine airbags. Driver-assist and active safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and automatic high beams. All trims above the base have rear and side cross traffic alert, as well as blind spot monitoring. Adaptive cruise control is added on higher-end trims as part of Kia's Highway Driving Assist (HDA) suite.
Front-row headroom measures 40.2 inches in the K5, which compares to 40.0 inches in the Hyundai Sonata. Second-row headroom is 37.8 inches in the K5, slightly less than the Sonata's 38.4 inches. Front-row legroom measures 46.1 inches in the Kia and Hyundai. However there's a bit more second-row legroom in the K5, which has 35.2 inches to the Sonata's 34.8 inches. Both vehicles have 16.0 cubic feet of cargo space, with split-folding second-row seats allowing space for larger items on all but the base trim.
The K5's standard infotainment touchscreen measures 8.0 inches and includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Higher-end models get a 10.3-inch touchscreen, but CarPlay and Android Auto must be plugged in to operate. However, those get built-in navigation. All include two front-row USB charge ports while higher-end trims add a third; every trim above the base has two second-row USB ports. On higher-end K5 trims, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system replaces the standard six-speaker setup. Those also have a 360-degree view parking camera system.
The 2022 K5 is offered in five trims: entry-level LX, LXS, GT-Line, EX, and range-topping GT. The LX trim starts at about $25,000, and the GT costs over $32,000.
We favor the GT-Line trim, which runs for about $27,000 before options. It has the same sporty exterior styling that the full-on GT model gets. True, GT Line only looks sporty; its 1.6-liter engine isn't as powerful as the GT's 2.5-liter engine. However, the GT-Line is offered with AWD for another $1,600, while the GT is FWD only. Regardless, the GT-Line brings improved features over the LXS trim below it. Those include LED fog lights and taillights, a power-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, 10.3-inch infotainment display, and one-touch up/down front windows.
We suggest choosing the GT-Line premium package for $1,600. That adds adaptive cruise control, which makes highway driving much easier. Other additions include intersection cross-traffic alert, a wireless device charger, LED interior lighting, and a panoramic sunroof.
Want a more detailed overview? Check out our trim guide.
With a few new and recently updated midsize sedans on the market, we decided to get six of the most popular options together for a big comparison test. How'd the K5 do? The GT-Line AWD model we evaluated finished in second place behind the Honda Accord. That's an impressive result, as we were fairly neutral on the Optima. The K5 finished ahead of stalwarts like the Toyota Camry, Subaru Legacy, and even its corporate cousin the Hyundai Sonata. Beyond radical styling, the K5 earned its silver medal with spirited handling, clever tech, and appealing value equation.
Still, the K5 couldn't top the Accord. Honda's standard bearer has a more spacious interior, a smoother ride, a better engine, and nicer materials. There's also an overall sense of solidity and refinement in the Accord that none of its competitors can match. The Accord remains the best midsize sedan, but the K5 is a great option for drivers seeking something sportier, or at least something that looks like it is.
|$0||1.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 36, 48, 60 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models.||01-31-2022|
|$0||2.5% Financing for a maximum term of 66 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models.||01-31-2022|
|$0||3.25% Financing for a maximum term of 72 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models.||01-31-2022|
|$0||4.25% Financing available for varying term lengths : 75, 84 Months - Kia announces special APR Financing on select models.||01-31-2022|
|$400||Kia announces a Bonus Cash on select models for eligible military personnel.||01-31-2022|