2021 Kia K5 Has Some Astonishing Little Details

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Kia knows how to pay attention.

CarBuzz was recently given an early opportunity to drive the 2021 Kia K5, the replacement for the outgoing Optima. Kia explained that the K5 is different enough to justify a name change, but after driving the car, we think that the less significant updates are what makes the car feel so special. We only had access to the two K5s (in GT-Line and EX guises) for a short time. Still, we quickly noticed how much attention to detail Kia has paid with the car, and why the company ranks at the top of the latest JD Power Initial Quality Study.

Kia's brand new Lead Vehicle Departure Alert feature is a perfect example. This new system beeps if the car in front of you pulls away, and the car senses that the driver is not paying attention. "It's an enhancement to the Driver Attention Warning we already had in the car," explained Brian Williams, K5 Product Manager. "It a first for Kia, and we expect to see it on more vehicles."

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Lead Vehicle Departure Alert also works in tandem with Kia's Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, which functions better than most systems in bumper-to-bumper traffic. "Our system, along with many others in the mass market segment, would bring the car down to a stop for about three seconds," Williams explained. "After that, it goes into a pause, and you have to reengage. From a competitive standpoint, we have up to 30 seconds of stop & go, meaning even more convenience for drivers." Having driven far more expensive vehicles than the K5 with less effective adaptive cruise, we can appreciate how intuitively Kia's system works in the real world.

Kia also spent a ton of time and brainpower reinventing the K5's interior. The wireless charger, for example, is now a vertically-positioned affair with a spring-loaded door to slide your phone. It is, by far, the smartest design we've seen for a wireless charger. "It's faster charging, higher wattage, has a cooling fan to keep the phone colder, and the space is removable as phones grow in size," Williams added.

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All of these tiny details explain why Kia has succeeded with customers on JD Power surveys. "The machine-human interface that Kia is able to achieve imparts a degree of comfort," said James Bell, Director of Corporate Communications at Kia Motors America. "Then when you ask people about their experience with the car after 90 days of ownership, they are comfortable with it. It works as they expected and it's not hypertechnical, it's hyper intuitive."

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