2021 Kia K5 2.5 GT assessment: A brand new period

“The 2021 Kia K5 goes massive on model and sportiness, with out sacrificing practicality.”

Engaging styling

Highly effective engine

Nimble chassis

Intuitive tech

Low degree of ordinary driver-assist tech

Kia spent 20 years remodeling the Optima midsize sedan from a joke right into a genuinely fascinating automobile — all so it might rebrand and begin anew.

The 2021 Kia K5 is the alternative for the Kia Optima. Whereas the title is a sterile alphanumeric mixture that automobile consumers usually tend to related to a Chevy SUV than something carrying the Kia badge, the K5 appears to be like fairly good on paper. The final Optima was a handsome automobile, however Kia dialed issues up even additional this time, whereas including a much bigger touchscreen, extra driver-assist tech, non-compulsory all-wheel drive, and a sporty GT mannequin.

Kia wants to tug out the entire stops if it desires consumers’ consideration. The K5 has many rivals, together with the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Mazda 6, Subaru Legacy, and Volkswagen Passat, in addition to its sibling — the Hyundai Sonata.

Pricing for the 2021 Kia K5 begins at $24,555 (all costs embrace a compulsory $965 vacation spot cost), however that solely buys an entry-level LX mannequin. Our take a look at automobile was the range-topping K5 GT, with a extra highly effective engine and sport-tuned suspension. The GT begins at $31,555, however our take a look at automobile additionally had the non-compulsory GT1 bundle, which provides a 10.25-inch touchscreen, Bose premium audio system, and adaptive cruise management, amongst different options. That introduced the MSRP to $35,705.

Design and inside

The K5 shares a fundamental platform with the Hyundai Sonata, however designers did a great job of distinguishing the 2. The place the Hyundai has easy strains that make it look like it’s floating alongside the street, the K5 is a little more muscular, with a bulging hood and a entrance bumper that juts ahead just like the chin of a 1940s comedian e-book character. That’s consistent with each sedans’ personalities. The Hyundai is a laid-back cruiser, whereas the K5 is supposed to be sportier.

Nonetheless, the principle distinguishing function of the K5 is lighting. On the entrance, you get squiggly LED daytime working lights Kia calls the “Coronary heart Beat,” plus a horizontal mild blade throughout the again. Whereas the general form of the K5 may be very modern and enticing, many different sedans have the same form as of late. Styling is subjective, however the lighting design makes the K5 much more distinctive.

Modern styling usually comes on the value of inside house, however that isn’t the case with this Kia. The K5 has extra entrance headroom and legroom than different midsize sedans and solely Zero.2 cubic toes much less rear headroom than the class-leading Toyota Camry. Nonetheless, rear legroom is a bit beneath common.

Styling is subjective, however the lighting design makes the K5 much more distinctive.

At 16 cubic toes, trunk house is above common, however behind the 16.7 cubic toes of the class-leading Honda Accord. The K5’s Hyundai Sonata sibling additionally provides a smidge extra cargo house, at 16.three cubic toes. Kia additionally provides a 60/40 split-folding rear seat to accommodate longer gadgets, however that function isn’t out there on the bottom K5 LX trim degree.

The inside design was clear and practical, though the slope of the roof hampered rearward visibility considerably. Our K5 GT take a look at automobile had niceties like heated and ventilated entrance seats, a heated steering wheel, a driver’s reminiscence system for the seat and mirrors, and a panoramic sunroof, proving Kia nonetheless takes its fame as a price model significantly. Supplies didn’t really feel very high-end (Kia solely provides leatherette, reasonably than actual leather-based upholstery), however have been acceptable given the automobile’s price ticket. Nonetheless, Kia used numerous shiny plastic that created a distracting glare on sunny days.

Tech, infotainment, and driver help

The usual infotainment system consists of an eight.Zero-inch touchscreen, however you may get a 10.25-inch touchscreen as an improve. Oddly, Kia provides wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto solely with the smaller display screen. Whilst you’ll nonetheless must plug into to make use of CarPlay and Android Auto on the bigger display screen, nevertheless it does add natural-language voice recognition and multi-connection Bluetooth.

Our take a look at automobile had the non-compulsory 10.25-inch display screen, which featured cool-looking graphics, together with old style radio tubes for radio stations. We appreciated the shortcut buttons for various menus however discovered the buttons on the appropriate facet of the display screen a bit exhausting to achieve from the motive force’s seat. The voice-recognition system — which is designed to acknowledge easy phrases like “activate the air con” — didn’t have any obvious comprehension points however was a bit gradual to reply.

Wi-fi telephone charging can be out there, with an uncommon design that entails dropping the telephone right into a vertical slot. That looks like a intelligent technique to save house, however Kia nonetheless left a phone-sized cubby — with out charging — forward of the shifter.

The larger non-compulsory touchscreen featured cool-looking graphics, together with old style radio tubes for radio stations.

Additionally out there is a 12-speaker Bose audio system with subwoofer and exterior amplifier. For those who get sick of listening to music, Kia additionally supplies “sounds of nature,” together with “vigorous forest,” “calm sea waves,” “wet day,” “heat hearth,” and “open-air café” sounds that flip the K5 right into a white-noise machine on wheels.

Customary driver-assist tech beneath the Kia Drive Sensible banner consists of forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, a driver-attention monitor, and Lane Observe Help automated lane centering. Non-compulsory options embrace blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, reverse automated braking, and adaptive cruise management. The latter can use the navigation system to preemptively decrease velocity for freeway curves or adjustments within the velocity restrict.

On the freeway, the adaptive cruise management accelerated and decelerated easily, though we didn’t have a chance to check out the automated speed-limit adjustment function. The system additionally has a stop-and-go operate, which is useful in heavy visitors. Nonetheless, it’s value noting that a number of rivals — together with the Honda Accord, Subaru Legacy, and Toyota Camry — supply adaptive cruise management as customary tools, albeit with out among the options of Kia’s system. We additionally discovered Kia’s Lane Observe Help to be much less proficient than the lane-centering operate of Subaru’s EyeSight system —–which isn’t precisely good, both.

Driving expertise

The usual powertrain is a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. The engine is coupled to an eight-speed automated transmission, with customary front-wheel drive or non-compulsory all-wheel drive. These are respectable specs for an entry-level powertrain in a midsize sedan, and the supply of all-wheel drive is a perk for new-car consumers in colder climates. Word which you can additionally get all-wheel drive on the Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry, and it’s customary on the Subaru Legacy.

Kia K5 GT fashions like our take a look at automobile get a 2.5-liter turbo-four, producing 290 hp and 311 lb-ft, with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission for faster shifts. The GT is just out there with front-wheel drive, however Kia claims it can do zero to 60 mph in 5.eight seconds. That’s fairly fast for a mainstream sedan.

Most midsize sedans make you appear to be an grownup. This one makes you appear to be a hooligan.

Kia did greater than pack on the facility, although. The GT will get a model-specific suspension setup for higher dealing with and 19-inch wheels with high-grip Pirelli P-Zero tires. Even with these tires, although, the GT was highly effective sufficient to spin its wheels on command. The “Sport+” drive mode additionally deactivates the traction management and lets the engine keep at its boiling level with out upshifting. That’s not the type of habits you’d usually anticipate from a automobile like this. Most midsize sedans make you appear to be an grownup. This one makes you appear to be a hooligan.

Issues gained’t get utterly uncontrolled, although. The K5 is greater than theatrics; it’s acquired the strikes to again up its bravado. Many fashionable vehicles really feel like they’re violating the legal guidelines of physics when going round corners, however the K5 felt mild and keen, prefer it really needed to maneuver. That wonderful chassis tuning was let down by numb steering, however the K5 is way from the one sporty automobile with that downside. The journey was additionally a bit harsh, however affordable given the dealing with advantage of this suspension setup.

Gasoline mileage and security

Probably the most fuel-efficient 2021 Kia K5 mannequin is the bottom LX with the 1.6-liter engine and front-wheel drive, which will get fuel-economy scores of 32 mpg mixed (29 mpg metropolis, 38 mpg freeway). Different fashions with the 1.6-liter engine get 31 mpg mixed (27 mpg metropolis, 37 mpg freeway) with front-wheel drive, and 29 mpg mixed (26 mpg metropolis, 34 mpg freeway) with all-wheel drive. The two.5-liter GT is rated at 27 mpg mixed (24 mpg metropolis, 32 mpg freeway), and we managed 26.four mpg, based on the automobile’s journey pc.

Gasoline-economy scores are respectable for a midsize sedan, nevertheless it’s value noting that that the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, and Toyota Camry are all out there with more-efficient hybrid powertrains. Kia beforehand supplied an Optima Hybrid however hasn’t mentioned plans for a hybrid K5.

The K5 acquired a “High Security Choose+” ranking from the Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security (IIHS), with high “Good” scores in all crash assessments, and the highest “Superior” rating for front-crash prevention tech. Nonetheless, headlight scores ranged from “Good” to “Poor,” relying on trim degree.

The Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2021 K5 a five-star general security ranking, with 4 stars in frontal and rollover crash assessments, and 5 stars in facet crash assessments.

Kia provides a 10-year, 100,000-mile, powertrain guarantee and a five-year, 60,000-mile, restricted guarantee. These stay the longest guarantee phrases within the enterprise. They’re unmatched by rivals besides, after all, the Hyundai Sonata, from Kia’s sibling model.

How DT would configure this automobile

The driving expertise is basically what units the K5 aside from different midsize sedans, so we’d go for a GT mannequin like our take a look at automobile. Whereas it’s a giant step up from the bottom LX trim degree, the GT continues to be a great worth contemplating the quantity of kit you get, together with a 290-hp engine, a well-tuned chassis, and loads of creature comforts.

Nonetheless, Kia presents a dilemma to tech-savvy consumers. Wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are solely out there with the smaller eight.Zero-inch touchscreen, whereas the non-compulsory 10.25-inch touchscreen will get multi-phone Bluetooth pairing and natural-language voice recognition. So consumers need to determine which options they suppose are extra necessary.

We didn’t get to check out the smaller display screen, however contemplating that the bigger display screen is bundled with a $four,100 choice bundle, we’d suppose lengthy and exhausting about skipping it and saving a giant chunk of change. Whereas we favored the voice-recognition system, ditching cables looks like a much bigger comfort enhance.

Our take

The 2021 Kia K5 takes the strong basis of the Optima and provides an additional dose of favor and efficiency. It’s a well-executed midsize sedan, nevertheless it additionally faces robust competitors.

The Honda Accord, Mazda 6, and even the once-bland Toyota Camry all supply satisfying driving experiences, whereas the Subaru Legacy has extra customary driver-assist tech and a bigger out there touchscreen than the Kia, plus customary all-wheel drive. Nonetheless, Kia nonetheless manages to face out with an extended guarantee and spectacular worth. Even with an choice bundle tacked on, our K5 GT take a look at automobile rang up at lower than $40,000.

There’s additionally the matter of the Kia’s sibling—the Hyundai Sonata. The Hyundai will get tech that isn’t out there on the Kia, together with Distant Good Parking Help automated parking, a digital key operate that permits you to use a smartphone as a key, and a hybrid powertrain. Nonetheless, the Sonata isn’t as entertaining to drive because the Kia. Hyundai does have a Sonata N-Line efficiency mannequin, however a 2019 prototype drive left us underwhelmed.

Do you have to get one?

Sure. The K5 proves even strange, sensible vehicles will be enjoyable.

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