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2021 Kia K5 Replaces Optima Midsize Front-Drive Sedan with Stinger-Inspired Styling

Automobile logo Automobile 3 days ago Todd Lassa,Manufacturer
a car parked in a parking lot: Kia K5 exterior © Manufacturer Kia K5 exterior

Breathe a sigh of relief, Stinger fans. The 2021 Kia K5 is not a front-wheel-drive replacement for that rather excellent rear-wheel-drive sport sedan, but rather it's the new, renamed, reconstituted Optima—or its replacement, anyway.

It would be easy to take the new Kia K5 as a replacement for the Stinger sport sedan, with its "tiger face" nose and fastback profile, complete with a chrome garnish that runs along the roofline and wraps around the rear glass; the biggest visual difference between the two seems to be the dash-to-axle proportion. But Kia is calling the K5 "the return of the midsize sedan," by which the company apparently means the K5 is designed to take on other survivors of the SUV movement, especially its corporate cross-brand sibling, the Hyundai Sonata, as well as the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry.

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Both those competitors are proving that the market primacy of compact SUVs, a lookalike segment if there ever was one, has given the remaining midsize sedan-makers in the game carte blanche to get expressive with their designs.

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Kia K5 In Showrooms This Summer

The 2021 Kia K5 goes on sale in U.S. dealers this summer, with the top-trim K5 GT model coming in the fall. The K5 features an all-turbo engine lineup, with up to 290 horsepower from a force-fed 2.5-liter four-cylinder. An eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission is available as an upgrade from the standard eight-speed automatic, and an all-wheel-drive option coming late in the year.

Kia K5 Design Details

Design highlights of the 2021 Kia K5 include a sharkskin-inspired front grille mesh and dual chrome exhaust tip garnish on the GT-Line and GT trims, "Heart Beat" daytime running lamps, and taillamps with available LED dashes across the rear deck, plus a gloss-black rear glass applique and new 16-, 18- and 19-inch alloy wheel designs. The 18- and 19-inch wheel options come shod with Pirelli P-Zeros.

As for features with design and styling implications, the K5 offers upgrades to a panoramic sunroof, a flat-bottom sport steering wheel on GT-Line and GT models, and an "aircraft-style" shift knob. Upholstery choices run from premium to sporty, Kia says, with such options as red leatherette, satin chrome, and wood-like appliques.

a close up of a car © Manufacturer

'Sporty' Handling K5

Kia says the K5's suspension is designed for sporty handling, responsive feel, and stability. Given the performance credibility Kia has established with the Stinger, we look forward to evaluating the K5 on our favorite roads.

Standard engine is a 180-horsepower, 195 lb-ft 1.6-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder with continuously variable valve timing, coupled to an eight-speed automatic, on the LX, LXS, GT-Line, and EX. The GT's 2.5-liter, 290-horsepower turbo four is rated at 311 lb-ft and is coupled with the new eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission. Kia claims a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds for the punchy GT.

The AWD option uses an electro-hydraulic system to control coupling, and actively distributes torque between the front and rear wheels. On LXS and GT-Line trims, the AWD option comes with normal, smart, sport, and custom drive modes; the K5 GT with AWD also adds a Sport+ mode to the list.

2021 Kia K5 Screens & Tech

Touchscreens are 8.0- or 10.25-inches, high-resolution, with split-screen function. Satellite ratio is optional, but the multi-connector Bluetooth system allows up to two phones to connect at the same time to play tunes. Kia's UVO telematics allow different drivers to pre-set their preferred seat position, outside mirror placement, and radio stations.

The K5 will be available with Kia's first wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto installations, and it also gets an optional wireless smartphone charger designed to hold your phone securely in place. There are also new smart key functions, including remote engine start with climate control that lets the driver set the temperature to 72 degrees, and a hands-free Smart Trunk option automatically pops the lid when the proximity key is detected behind the car.

Safety & Advanced Driver Assistance Systems in the 2021 Kia K5

Advanced Driver Assistance systems include standard forward collision warning, forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection, driver attention warning, and lane following assist.

Optional ADAS features include blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assistance, parking distance warning-reverse, parking collision avoidance assist, navigation-based smart cruise control for upcoming curves, highway driving assist (which automatically adjusts the speed to the posted limit, and maintains distance with the vehicle in front), and safe exit assist, for exiting the car with traffic approaching.

2021 Kia K5 Quick Facts:

  • Power: 290 hp (K5 GT); 180 hp (standard K5)
  • Transmissions: 8-speed automatic or 8-speed dual-clutch
  • Drive: Front-wheel drive standard, AWD optional
  • 0-60 mph: 5.8 seconds (mfr est, K5 GT)
  • Apple Car Play: Yes, wireless
  • Android Auto: Yes, wireless
  • Smartphone charger: Yes, wireless

2021 Kia K5 Specifications
ON SALE Summer 2020
PRICE $25,000-$35,000 (base) (est)
ENGINE 2.5L DOHC 16-valve turbocharged I-4/290 hp @ 5,800 rpm, 311 lb-ft @ 1,650-4,000 rpm; 1.6L DOHC 16-valve turbocharged I-4/180 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 195 lb-ft @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic; 8-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD or AWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE 27/29 mpg (city/hwy) (1.6L engine) (2.5L TBD)
L x W x H 193.1 x 73.2 x 56.9 in
WHEELBASE 112.2 in
WEIGHT TBA
0-60 MPH 5.8 sec (2.5L turbo with 8-speed DCT) (1.6L TBD)
TOP SPEED 145 mph (est)
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