There is a lot to love about the Optima's replacement.
There's an all-new Kia Optima out but it's now called the 2021 Kia K5. The freshly-named sedan is arriving at dealerships in the United States now and is poised to be a big hit. The new K5 is so different from the Optima Kia felt compelled to give it a new name. CarBuzz spent a day driving two different K5 models (in GT-Line and EX trim), and after racking some miles in Kia's new midsize sedan, we were astonished to see how well this car is executed.
There are so many impressive details on this car, including bold styling, high-tech features, and intuitive ergonomics. We have picked out our five favorite features of the 2021 K5.
The term "Stinger DNA" gets thrown around a lot lately with Kia's designs, as most of the company's new models bear some resemblance to the flagship sport sedan. With the K5, though, this compliment is more than just a marketing department exaggeration. In some ways, the K5 almost looks more aggressive than the Stinger, even in its tamer trim levels.
The GT-Line model (pictured here in Wolf Grey) gets some added sporty touches like black and silver two-tone wheels, more aggressive front and rear fascias, and a small black lip spoiler. We particularly love the K5's orange daytime running lights, a feature taken from the popular Telluride SUV.
The K5's interior looks radically different from the outgoing Optima, and its piece de resistance is the incredible ergonomic design. There are plenty of places to store items throughout the cabin, including a large bin ahead of the shifter. Two cupholders are located to the right of the shifter, keeping them conveniently out of the way of your arm.
Behind them, Kia has created the single best wireless charger in the business right now. It features a spring-loaded door that perfectly cradles your phone and keeps it in place. The charger even features a cooling fan to stop the phone from overheating. And when phones inevitably get bigger, the door is removable and can be replaced later down the line.
Kia offers some of the best technology in the auto industry, and the K5 includes all of the company's latest hits. The standard eight-inch touchscreen now packs wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, which is a rare ability in 2020. A larger 12.3-inch display drops the wireless connectivity but gains a neat Sounds of Nature feature with seven soundtracks, intuitive split-screen layout, and sharp graphics.
The safety technology is impressive as well. A new Lead Vehicle Departure Alert warns you when the car in front starts moving from a stop, giving you a nod to stop adjusting the radio or playing with your phone.
There are a few hard plastic surfaces in the K5's cabin, but for the most part, the interior feels top-notch. We fell in love with the optional red leather interior found in our GT-Line tester, but the EX trim comes with more luxury features like heated/ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel. Both trim levels even feature a large panoramic moonroof, which lets a ton of light into the cabin.
Both of the K5 examples that we tested use the base 1.6-liter turbocharged engine producing a healthy 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. It's no speed demon, but many car buyers will enjoy the eight-speed automatic transmission, which feels sharper than a CVT.
We are excited to try the upcoming K5 GT model, which mates a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. With 290 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque on tap, the GT should be a worthy adversary to the Honda Accord 2.0T and Toyota Camry V6.