Just about the time the Kia Optima may have been absorbed into the public’s consciousness as a superior midsize sedan, it’s gone. It’s now the Kia K5.
With 2021 models, the former Optima simultaneously arrived as a new generation with a new name. The Korean carmaker is trying to bring conformity to its cars’ names. The lineup has the K letter designation in international markets and now it also does in the U.S.
The name is more robot-sounding than Optima, a stylized version of Optimum. But the newly named and newly designed sedan is far removed from the stiffness of many midsize sedans enduring their lives in rental car fleets.
Instead, the Kia K5 offers more of what the Optima showcased. It’s comfortable and quiet, offers substantial standard technology and has sports car leanings inside and outside while value-priced.
2021 Kia K5: new look, name for Kia Optima
The 2021 Kia K5 is offered in five trim levels: LX, LXS, GT-Line, EX and GT. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional the LXS and GT-Line.
Sportiness is the GT-Line’s best attribute. Besides the strong technology and safety innovations of the LXS trim, its features 18-inch wheels, cloth and simulated leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, foglight, USB ports rear passengers and sport-designed black exterior treatments.
If the GT-Line is preferred, ventilated seats, satellite radio and rear parking sensors are no longer standard as in other trims. But those features are available as options. Seven additional features of note, including adaptive cruise control, a 10 1/4-inch touchscreen and a 12-speaker Bose sound system, add to the car’s superior value.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. A wireless charging pad with a cooling fan and a smart spring-loaded secure section is optional.
The K5 is equipped with a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine which produces 180 horsepower. It advances smoothly with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It accelerates from 0-to-60 miles per hour in eight seconds, comparable to midsize sedan segment leaders. Fuel efficiency estimates are 27 city miles per gallon in city driving, 37 mpg on the highway.
Several midsize sedans have more interior room than their exterior designs suggest, including the K5. There are 16 cubic feet of trunk space, which seems larger since the opening is wide and low. The Kia also its rear setback releasees in the trunk, a smart convenience.
Front and rear passengers sit comfortably although larger back occupants may need some degree of flexibility to enter and exit. Bins, side pockets and a large center armrest store plenty. One small addition should be copied by other carmakers. The inside door panels feature small, ideally positioned shelves. They make reaching for a wide-open door easier.
The MSRP for the new Kia is $25,390. The review vehicle included one premium, the GT-Line FWD Package ($1,600), a value considering it included a panoramic sunroof with a power sunshade, LED projection headlights, LED overhead interior lighting, forward collision avoidance and smart cruise control and a stop-and-go feature.
The 2021 K5 earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It was also named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
With its destination fee ($995), the K5’s total price is $27,995. That’s about $13,000 less the country’s average price for a new car. Kia joins Hyundai with the car industry’s best warranty, including a 10-year, 100,000-mile limit powertrain stipulation.
Everything considered, the 2021 Kia K5 is arguably the best buy in the car industry and a perfect fit for its previous name.