Yet another sexy Korean sedan aims to dominate.
The 2021 Kia K5 midsize sedan has arrived with more power, a far bolder design, and the availability of all-wheel drive to tackle the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. In case you're wondering what happened to the Optima nameplate, well, Kia has elected to name its latest sedan the K5 in the US market too, after an earlier version was spotted with the new badge in California. Riding on a new N3 platform and with styling cues taken from the sporty Stinger, the K5 is a seriously attractive sedan.
The angular design language doesn't stray far from earlier renders we saw and is highlighted by Kia's "tiger face" and a fastback profile that differs significantly from the current Optima. Elaborate LED DRLs in front and available LED "dashes" that stretch across the rear endow the K5 with a distinctive look. It rides on wheels that range in size from 16- to 19-inches.
Although lower than the 2020 Optima, the new N3 platform ensures that the K5 is both longer and wider. Kia says that the suspension has been tuned for sportier handling, yet it doesn't come at the expense of luxury, with enhanced sound deadening materials.
Under the hood are two turbocharged engines. A 1.6-liter GDI four-pot makes 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, and comes paired with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox. It's fitted to LX, LXS, GT-Line, and EX trims. On the GT, the more powerful 2.5-liter GDI + MPI produces 290 hp/311 lb-ft and, with its eight-speed "wet" dual-clutch transmission, runs to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds. The big news is that AWD is now offered on the LXS and GT-Line trims, although it will only be available later in 2020. The FWD-based system includes a Snow driving mode.
Inside, the well-appointed cabin offers either eight- or available 10.25-inch high-resolution touchscreens. With the latter, you'll also get navigation with real-time traffic data, along with a Bluetooth connectivity system that can connect two phones simultaneously. A 12-speaker Bose sound system is available, too. Under the Kia Drive Wise suite, safety equipment includes forward-collision warning, driver attention warning, lane following assist, and available highway driving assist.
The bolder Optima - sorry, the K5 - is set to go on sale this summer, with the high-performance GT set to follow in the fall. Kia has not yet announced pricing for its smart midsize sedan, but with AWD, more power, and more tech, its more established Japanese rivals better watch out.