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2021 Kia K5 Overview

The all-new Kia K5 arrives during the summer of 2020 to replace the outgoing Kia Optima midsize sedan. Built on the new "N3" platform, the K5 sits 0.8 inches lower than the Optima while stretching 2 inches longer and 1 inch wider. The Korean midsize sedan will slot above the Kia Forte, and its exterior design mimics the larger Stinger sport sedan with a four-door fastback silhouette. A thin "Tiger Face" grille brings Kia's distinctive design language to the front of the car, where it is flanked on either side by dramatic headlights and unique accent lights, which seem to run up the front fenders like lazy lightning bolts.

Along the K5's sloped profile, a strip of chrome spans the roof, and wheel sizes will range from 16 inches to 19 inches, skipping the 17-inch size altogether. Between the "has to be a Kia" front end, interesting accent lights, and fastback silhouette, the K5 will be easily recognizable as something new and different on the road.

Inside, Kia promises to make a range of premium materials available, including available red leather seating surfaces. Trim levels include the base LX, a slightly more featured LXS, the GT-Line with its more sporty appearance, and the upper-level EX. Each should arrive this summer, while a top-tier GT trim will bring true sport sedan performance when it arrives in the fall of 2020. Expect a panoramic sunroof on the K5's options list, and the GT-Line and GT will employ a flat-bottom steering wheel. Further tying its design to that of the Stinger, the K5 will sport an aircraft-style PRND shift lever, rather than a rotary controller or push-button selector.

Kia appears to be utilizing its 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine as the K5's base powerplant. Borrowed from other Kias like the 2021 Seltos, this turbo-4 makes 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, burning regular gasoline.

A new 2.5-liter turbo-4 arrives with the K5, too. Good for 290 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque, this will undoubtedly power the GT, and will likely be an option on other upper-trim K5s. It offers the most torque in the segment, which will be managed by an available 8-speed "wet" dual-clutch transmission. Finally, Kia will offer an optional front-wheel-based all-wheel-drive (AWD) system on the LXS and GT-Line cars, available in late 2020.

A "Snow" driving mode will be included on AWD K5s, joining the standard "Normal," "Smart," and "Sport" driving modes, and a "Sport+" mode exclusive to the coming GT trim.
On the tech front, the Kia K5 will employ the same 8-inch and optional 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment interfaces that have wowed reviewers in the 2021 Seltos. Multi-connection Bluetooth technology will allow two devices to pair simultaneously to the K5's system. Natural language commands will be available, UVO telematics is included, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay allow drivers and passengers to project their devices to the touchscreen without needing to connect any cables. Interestingly, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available only with the smaller 8-inch screen, and not the 10.25-inch display. A 12-speaker Bose premium stereo will be offered in the K5.

From a convenience standpoint, K5 owners will enjoy its smart trunk, which will automatically open when it detects them standing near the rear of the car. Additionally, remote engine start with climate pre-acclimation will delight winter-weather drivers. Just hit a button, and the K5 will begin to warm up to 72 degrees.

Kia includes its Drive Wise advanced driver assistance systems on the K5, but you can upgrade for more safety content. Forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, a driver attention warning, and lane-follow assist come standard. Much of the optional safety systems are aimed at keeping drivers out of non-forward-impact collisions. For instance, there is a blind-spot collision assist, rear cross-traffic collision assist, park distance warning, and park collision assist. Navigation-based smart cruise control, highway driving assist (which adjusts the cruise to posted speed limits), and safe exit assist (which warns occupants if a vehicle is approaching before they open their doors) are all optional.

Although the Optima name is no more, the new K5 should still compete heartily against the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Mazda6, Hyundai Sonata, and possibly even some luxury vehicles, like the Volvo S60. Unlike some of Kia's vehicles built in Korea, the K5 will be built in the United States alongside the Telluride SUV, and pricing has yet to be announced. Similarly, Kia hasn't released expected fuel economy numbers for any of the K5 powertrains, although the EPA lists the AWD Seltos with the 1.6-liter turbocharged engine at 25 mpg city, 30 highway, 27 combined.


When it comes to cars, Matt's curiosity extends well beyond the powertrain. From Ford to Porsche, he's as interested in the history behind the machine as he is the view behind the wheel. Matt creates written and video content exclusively for CarGurus.

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