The Kia K5 is the Korean brand’s mid-size sedan. It’s a new name for North Americans; previous models went by the Optima name on these shores.

New for 2021: The K5 is all-new for 2021, with a new name and a new platform. It shares the latter with the Hyundai Sonata, but carries a very different look to its sibling.

Don’t call it the Optima. Kia has done away with that long-standing badge to align its mid-size sedan’s name across the globe. Meet K5.

The K5 introduces itself with a dramatic new sheetmetal suit. The Tiger Nose grille is now a full-width Face, complete with daytime running lights that zig their way into the front fenders. The chrome trim around the side windows flows all the way to the rear window, looping underneath it. A full-width taillight treatment—so hot right now—wraps up the look. Despite the K5’s fastback-style profile, it features a conventional trunk, capable of swallowing 16 cubic feet.

There are two engine options for the K5. Nearly every model comes with the familiar Kia/Hyundai 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Here it produces 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. So far, so Sonata. On LXS and GT-Line trims, however, buyers can check a box for optional all-wheel drive. No matter which approach you pick, an eight-speed auto handles shifting duties. At the top of the trim list is the GT, which features a larger, 290-horsepower engine sending all its might to the front wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The K5 includes a lot of tech at a reasonable price. An 8.0-inch touchscreen is standard, including (wireless) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A 10.25-inch screen is available on higher trims, but sticks to wired smartphone integration, strangely. A suite of driving assists, including automated emergency braking and lane-keep assist is standard on all models; blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control are both available on higher trims.

2020 K5 pricing ranges between $24,455 and $31,455 before options, including $965 in destination.

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Kia K5 Powertrain

The Kia K5 features two engine options, two transmission choices, and either front- or all-wheel drive.

All trims except the GT use a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This four-pot sends out 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed automatic transmission. As standard that power finds its way to the tarmac through the front wheels. Depending on trim however, buyers can also spec an all-wheel drive system. The engine and transmission remain the same.

Those seeking more power have the GT trim, available only with front-wheel drive (at least, for now). This uses a larger 2.5-liter turbo-four, adding over 100 to the horsepower (now 290 hp) and torque (now 311 lb-ft). The GT features the same number of forward gears as its lesser brethren, though in the form of a fast-shifting dual-clutch transmission complete with paddle shifters.

Kia K5 Features and Pricing

K5 LX 1.6T: Starts at $24,455

You’ll need a little shy of $25k to get into the stylish K5 in base LX spec, including $965 in destination charges. That price nets you the front-drive, 1.6-liter drivetrain. Also standard are 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, and powered/heated side mirrors. The cloth front seats are six-way adjustable (but not powered), with two-zone automatic climate control also standard.

On the tech front, the base K5 comes with two USB ports (both up front) and an 8.0-inch infotainment screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality is included, and wirelessly—a rarity in non-luxury models.

The basic Kia Drive Wise suite in the LX includes automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist with departure alert, lane follow assist, driver attention warning, and high beam assist.

K5 LXS: $25,455 (AWD + $2,100)

Add an S to the trim and the K5 picks up a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, smart key with push-button start, immobilizer, and UVO Link. It also adds more safety assists, with blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and safe exit assist.

LXS options include second-row USB ports, 10-way adjustable power driver’s seat, heated front seats, and an updated infotainment with satellite radio and integrated telematics. All-wheel drive is also optional.

K5 GT-Line: $26,355 (AWD + $3,700)

The GT-Line trim gives the K5 a sportier look, drawing inspiration from the flagship GT. The makeover includes 18-inch wheels, LED foglights and rear lights, a more aggressive bodykit, and a subtle gloss black rear spoiler. The optional second-row USB ports and 10-way adjustable power driver’s seat from the LXS are standard here. Also included are cloth/leatherette seats, and a flat-bottom steering wheel.

GT-Line buyers have two options packages available, depending on drivetrain. Both bundle in adaptive cruise control, forward collision avoidance assist, LED headlights, a wireless charger, and blacked-out B-pillars. The AWD Special Edition includes all of this, plus Wolf Grey exterior paint, a red interior, larger 10.25-inch infotainment, Kia’s Highway Driving Assist, and nav-based cruise control.

K5 EX: $28,955

The lux-oriented EX is available in front-wheel drive only. It sets itself apart from the rest of the line with wood trim and a unique faux leather interior. Standard kit includes heated (and ventilated) front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and wireless charging. Rear passengers also gain access to dedicated climate vents.

An EX Premium package adds a heated steering wheel, memory system for driver’s seat and outside mirrors, power child lock, 10-way adjustable front passenger seat, the larger touchscreen, 12-speaker Bose sound system, noise-cancelling Active Sound Design, Highway Driving Assist and nav-based smart cruise control.

K5 GT 2.5T: $31,455

Stepping up to the GT nets you that bigger, 290-horsepower engine, an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and unique sport-tuned suspension. It also gets the more aggressive bodykit, a dual-tip muffler, and 19-inch wheels wrapped in low-profile rubber. Unique sport seats mark it out on the inside, though they’re not ventilated like the EX.

To get that—and most of the other goodies found in the EX Premium package—you’ll need to spec the GT1 package.

Kia K5 Fuel Economy

The K5 posts EPA fuel economy numbers that place it right in the thick of the pack. The base LX manages 29 mpg in the city and 38 on the highway, for a combined 32 mpg. Those are better numbers than the Honda Accord and the Hyundai Sonata with which it shares its engine and platform, but can’t match the 41 highway mpg of the Toyota Camry. Opt for any other front-drive 1.6-liter trim and the numbers drop to 27/37/31; add all-wheel drive and you’re looking at 26/34/29. The latter set of figures are each 1 mpg worse than the Subaru Legacy’s numbers.

Kia has yet to release EPA numbers for the GT.

Detailed Specs

Price Range (USD) / $24,455 – $31,455
Engine / 1.6L I4 Turbo / 2.5L I4 Turbo
Horsepower (hp) / 180 / 290
Torque (lb-ft) / 195 / 311
Fuel Economy (mpg) / 29/38/32 (1.6L FWD) / 26/34/29 (1.6L AWD) / TBA (2.5L FWD)
Drivetrain / 8AT, FWD/AWD