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The Kia Optima had a successful run. However, it’s officially been replaced by the 2021 Kia K5. Not only does this all-new midsize sedan offer a more engaging driving experience, but it is also roomier on the inside. A sleek and athletic exterior adds to the excitement of the new K5. Let’s find out if the new K5 is worthy of its hype.
What’s New for 2021?
Everything about the 2021 Kia K5 is new, including its powertrain options and mechanical parts. It takes the place of the outgoing Kia Optima.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Kia K5 – The Pros
1. A Superb Value
The new Kia K5 uses the Optima’s same recipe for success. It gives buyers a lot for their money. Prices for the new K5 start at less than $24,500, which is right in line with the competition. However, most of the K5’s rivals have a much shorter warranty. Aside from a 60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, buyers also enjoy 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage. Drivers will be able to ride worry-free for at least a few years.
2. Outstanding List of Standard Equipment
An outstanding list of standard equipment further highlights the 2021 Kia K5 as a great value. The entry-level K5 LX certainly does not look or feel like the typical base model. Before even stepping inside the sedan, car shoppers will notice its standard LED multi-reflector headlights and attractive alloy wheels. Some of the standard amenities include an 8.0-inch touchscreen, advanced smartphone integration, and Bluetooth. Of course, every new K5 is loaded with the latest safety innovations.
3. Strong and Economical Base Powertrain
The K5’s base powertrain will likely be a big seller. It delivers an engaging performance without giving up any fuel efficiency. Motivating the sedan is a new 1.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Kia rates it to kick out 180 horsepower and a class-leading 195 pound-feet of torque. An updated, eight-speed automatic gearbox sends power to the wheels. Acceleration is quick enough to ensure confident highway merging. Meanwhile, fuel economy tops out at a rewarding 38 mpg.
4. Drives Better Than the Kia Optima
Many automotive journalists criticized the previous Optima for its bland driving dynamics. Expect the new K5 to deliver a far more pleasing driving experience. Road handling has improved dramatically. A lower and wider stance helps enable the sedan to treat drivers to a graceful performance. Whether quickly change lanes or darting around curves, the K5 feels poised. Despite its athletic nature, this sedan still mages to offer a smooth ride. It comes ready to hit the open highway.
5. Really Fun GT Model
While the standard 2021 Kia K5 will satisfy the majority of drivers, others will want the more exciting GT model. It comes equipped with a more stimulating 2.5-liter, turbo four-cylinder engine. It raises the fun meter with 290 horsepower. A special Quick Shift automatic transmission further enhances the sedan’s ability to excite drivers. Kia says the GT model can sprint to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. To ensure tight handling, Kia equips the car with a sports-calibrated suspension.
6. Dramatic Exterior Styling
Over the years, Kia has earned a reputation for producing stylish automobiles. The 2021 Kia K5 is no exception. Its dramatic exterior design will force onlookers to take notice. A muscular front fascia and sleek body help the K5 to wow the crowd. Some cool paint colors are also on the list of options, including Sapphire Blue and Passion Red Tint Coat. Drivers seeking an even sportier look will gravitate towards the GT-Line trim, which features 18-inch sport wheels and racier bumpers.
7. Very Intelligent Cruise Control
Many of today’s vehicles offer adaptive cruise control. However, the Kia K5’s smart cruise control system can further reduce driver fatigue. Upgraded versions of the system feature “curve control” technology. With the help of the car’s available navigation system, it’s able to detect bends in the road. This means the system can automatically lower the sedan’s speed when approaching curves. When traveling on a long road trips, drivers will appreciate this luxurious feature.
8. Lots of Safety Features
Although the 2021 Kia K5 has yet to receive an official NHTSA safety rating, it does offer a lot of advanced safety tech. Standard forward collision braking with built-in cyclist and pedestrian detection makes a crash less likely to occur. Active lane control and driver attention monitoring are standard as well. Available on the upper trim levels, Junction Turning gives drivers more security when making a left turn. Meanwhile, available Parking Collision Avoidance Assist can intervene to prevent an accident while backing up.
9. Comfortable, Tech-Filled Interior
While traveling in the new K5, families will have more space to spread out. Its rear legroom is among the best in the segment. Seat comfort is excellent in both rows. Drivers will also have access to modern technology. Even the lowest-priced model receives wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone support. Although the standard 8.0-inch touch display performs well, split-screen functionality makes the optional 10.25 display especially nice. A Bose premium sound system with active noise canceling is available as well.
10. All-Wheel Drive
In the past, Kia only developed front-wheel-drive cars. However, an AWD system is available for the new K5. This is a big deal for drivers who need more traction during the winter. When snow starts to fall, the AWD system will automatically seek to improve grip.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Kia K5 – The Cons
1. No Manual Gearbox
Kia bills the new K5 as a borderline sports sedan. While this car is definitely engaging, some drivers may wish to swap out the automatic transmission for a traditional stick shift. Unfortunately, there’s not a manual-equipped model in the K5 lineup. Drivers who like being able to manually sort through gears should consider the Honda Accord. Another alternative is the 2021 Kia Forte GT, which is a fun car in its own right.
2. No Hybrid Powertrain Option
The 2021 Kia K5 offers good fuel economy. However, some drivers may still desire the efficiency of a hybrid powertrain. Many of the K5’s main competitors offer hybrid models that return at least a combined 40 mpg. Although the K5 may offer a hybrid model in the future, the current lineup doesn’t offer one.
3. Sloping Roofline Can Be An Issue For Some Rear Passengers
Many people will love the look of the K5’s sleek exterior. However, it may pose an issue for some of your rear passengers. Because of the sedan’s sloping roofline, some folks will have a more difficult time getting in and out of the car. They may need to duck when entering the cabin. This is especially true for tall adults.
4. Unknown Reliability
Kia has a recent history of manufacturing dependable cars. In fact, the previous Kia Optima ranked among the most reliable midsize sedans in America. However, the K5 is an all-new model. It’s difficult to prevent this car’s long-term dependability.
5. Styling Too Bold for Some People
The overwhelming majority of car shoppers will be extremely fond on the K5’s bold exterior. However, some people may find the sedan’s styling to be a bit too dramatic. A more refined option in the 2021 Volkswagen Passat.
How It Stacks Up Against the Competition
2021 Kia K5 vs 2021 Honda Accord
The Honda Accord has long remained a best-selling family sedan. Many drivers like the latest generation’s roomy interior and quick acceleration. However, only the 2021 Kia K5 offers all-wheel drive. Buyers will also enjoy the K5’s excellent powertrain warranty, which provides an extra 40,000 miles of coverage.
2021 Kia K5 vs 2021 Mazda 6
Car reviewers applaud the Mazda 6 for its sporty handling and excellent interior quality. However, the Mazda 6 has a lower fuel economy rating than the new Kia K5. Drivers can also expect the sporty Mazda 6 to have a stiffer ride on old pavement. In terms of overall value, the K5 comes on top. It gives buyers a few more features for the money.
2021 Kia K5 vs 2021 Toyota Camry
No other midsize sedan on the market outsells the Toyota Camry. In terms of overall performance, the Camry and the Kia K5 are a close match. However, Kia offers the K5 with some exclusive safety technologies. Some of the K5’s available driving aids include a curve-adapting cruise control system, Safe Exit Assist, and a blind-spot camera system.
The all-new 2021 Kia K5 is a great replacement for the popular Kia Optima. It drives better, looks bolder, and rewards families with passenger room. While the base powertrain is more than adequate, drivers seeking more fun will want the 290-horsepower GT model. All versions of the new Kia K5 handle remarkably well.
Drivers seeking a serious bargain should strongly consider the base K5 LX. It has everything that most people want, including a modern touchscreen and forward collision braking. While the sedan's long-term reliability is unknown, Kia's superior warranty coverage enables car shoppers to buy with confidence.