The 1.6- and optional 2.5-litre four-cylinder engines are both turbocharged and they both come with eight-speed transmissions, although the 2.5’s is a different design. PHOTO: KIA

The 1.6- and optional 2.5-litre four-cylinder engines are both turbocharged and they both come with eight-speed transmissions, although the 2.5’s is a different design. PHOTO: KIA

2021 Kia K5

The midsize-sedan category needs some attitude…and here it is

There’s still plenty of life in the thinned-out midsize-sedan class, at least with automakers such as Kia that continue to play in that particular strata. The fresh-faced K5, which is expected to arrive in Canada soon, is a new name that replaces the decades-old Optima.

The K5 exudes style from every angle, which is saying a lot since the outgoing Optima was no slouch in the looks department. The design team at Kia has created a low-slung shape that bears some resemblance to the Kia Stinger sedan, but the K5 is arguably more attractive. Standout elements include a mesh-style grille with zigzag turn-signal lights, and full-width taillights.

The finished product might not convince those addicted to their uber-popular utility vehicles and similar tall wagons, but the K5 could appeal to younger buyers seeking a cool and roomy ride that their parents might pass over. As well, those piloting competing midsize sedans might also find the eye-catching K5 worth a close-up inspection.

The K5’s styling is highlighted by a band of trim that extends above the front door glass, wrapping around the base of the rear window. The full-width taillights are also quite striking. PHOTO: KIA

The K5’s styling is highlighted by a band of trim that extends above the front door glass, wrapping around the base of the rear window. The full-width taillights are also quite striking. PHOTO: KIA

The K5 employs the same architecture that was introduced in the 2020 Hyundai Sonata (Kia is part of the Hyundai group), which is touted as being stronger than the previous structure.

The K5 is about five centimetres longer than the Optima and has been similarly lengthened between the front and rear wheels. The Optima is 2.5 centimetres taller. Passenger and cargo capacities between both sedans differ only slightly. There’s more rear legroom than in the Optima as well as front headroom. Rear headroom is about the same as the Optima’s despite the K5’s fastback styling.

A check of the interior shows plenty of premium-grade materials (seat coverings, door panels, dashboard, etc.) plus a honest-to-goodness floor shifter that could be confused for an airplane throttle.

The dashboard has an 8.0-inch or available 10.25-inch touch-screen with navigation. Both stick out from the dashboard somewhat, but at least they don’t appear tacked-on as some screens on other cars do.

Kia has backed up the K5’s stellar appearance with a revised powertrain lineup. The base model comes with a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is a two-gear increase over the base Optima.

Available is a turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder with 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet. It comes in the top-of-the-line GT model and includes a quick-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

For best lowest fuel consumption, the 1.6 is rated at 9.2 l/100 km in the city, 6.9 on the highway and 8.2 combined.

A hybrid K5 will eventually be added to lineup, likely for the 2022 model year.

All-wheel-drive is actually standard for the K5 — it was not available for the Optima — but only with base turbo 1.6 engine. The system comes with selectable Smart, Sport, Snow and Custom settings.

The base K5 LX, for $31,450 including destination charges, comes with active cruise control, emergency braking and lane-keeping assist, but there’s minimal interior/exterior trim and no Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity. Smallish 16-inch wheels are standard. That deficiency is corrected on EX, GT Line and EX trims that have 18-inch wheels and an increasing amount of luxury-oriented content.

The star of the show is the $41,700 GT (not to be confused with the GT Line). Aside from the more potent turbo engine, you get upgraded steering, a sport-tuned suspension, dual exhaust system, beefier brakes, sport bucket seats and 19-inch wheels.

A 12-speaker Bose-brand audio system, navigation-based cruise control and multi-Bluetooth connectivity are optional, depending on the trim.

Over the years, the Optima morphed into a ground-breaking vehicle for Kia, most notably after Audi designer Peter Schreyer joined the company in 2006. The K5 is clearly a big enough next leap in terms of interior and exterior design to earn a new name. And in a time when buyers appear fixated on utility vehicles and even pickups as family rides, the K5 needs to pull out all the stops to be noticed.

The Optima made big strides in terms of interior design for Kia and the K5 brings it up another notch. With two five more centimetres between the front and rear wheels, the K5 is also roomier. PHOTO: KIA

The Optima made big strides in terms of interior design for Kia and the K5 brings it up another notch. With two five more centimetres between the front and rear wheels, the K5 is also roomier. PHOTO: KIA

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: 2021 Kia K5

Type: Four-door, front- /all-wheel-drive midsize sedan

Engines (h.p.): 1.6-litre I-4, turbocharged (180); 2.5-litre I-4, turbocharged (290)

Transmissions: Eight-speed automatic; eight-speed automated manual (turbo 2.5)

Market position: As domestic automakers mostly abandon the sedan category to focus on utility-type vehicles, the remaining import-based manufacturers such as Kia are updating their models with new styling and/or powertrains.

Points: The name seems a bit odd, but the new styling is nothing short of stunning. • All-new interior has a premium look. • Turbocharged engine choices deliver sufficient horsepower and torque. • A good assortment of active-safety tech is standard. • Standard all-wheel-drive with the base engine is ideal for the Canadian climate.

Dynamic safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (std.); active cruise control (std.); emergency braking (std.); inattentive driver alert (std.); lane-keeping assist (std.)

L/100 km (city/hwy) 9.2/6.9 (1.6.); Base price (incl. destination) $31,450

AutomotiveAutoscarsSUVsTrucks

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo RCMP asked the public to help locate Brandon Sheldon, 15, who had been missing since Feb. 16. (Photo submitted)
UPDATE: RCMP report missing Nanaimo teen has been found safe and sound

Brandon Sheldon, 15, of Nanaimo missing since Tuesday

Views of Nanaimo, Newcastle Channel and the Strait of Georgia from the Nanaimo Parkway. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Editorial: We have a say in how our city of 100,000 grows

City of Nanaimo wants to hear from residents as transition from small town to big city continues

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Nanaimo Yacht Club used a crane to lift six new boat sheds from its parking lot and into the water to take their places in the club’s marina Monday. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
New boat sheds hoisted into the water at Nanaimo Yacht Club

Shelters for boats, constructed in Nanaimo Yacht Club parking lot, moved by crane Monday

Nanaimo’s Joanne Secord is a quarterfinalist in Inked Magazine’s Cover Model Search contest. (Janayh Wright Photography)
50-year-old Nanaimo mom hopes her tattoos will earn her a magazine cover shoot

Joanne Secord on cusp of semifinals in Inked Magazine contest

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after a news conference at the legislature in Victoria on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. reports 559 new cases of COVID-19, one death

4,677 cases of the virus remain active in the province; 238 people are in hospital

Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks cough up 3-0 lead, fall 4-3 to visiting Edmonton Oilers

Vancouver falls to 8-13-2 on the NHL season

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31.	(Pixabay photo)
Pubs, restaurants to pay wholesale prices on liquor permanently in COVID-recovery

Pre-pandemic, restaurateurs and tourism operators paid full retail price on most liquor purchases

Wade Dyck with Luna, a dog who went missing near the Chasm for 17 days following a rollover on Feb. 5. (Photo submitted).
Dog missing for 17 days through cold snap reunited with owner in northern B.C.

Family ecstatic to have the Pyrenees-Shepherd cross back home.

Quesnel RCMP confirmed they are investigating a residential break-in at a home on the Barkerville Highway. (File image)
Thieves make off with $300K in Cariboo miner’s retirement gold

Tim Klemen is offering a reward for the return of his gold

Cowichan Tribes members line up at a drive-up clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 13 to receive the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Tribes COVID-19 death count hits four

Second doses of Pfizer vaccine expected on March 8 as community count hits 230 since Dec. 31

Saleema Noon with a group of pre-teens before COVID-19. (Twitter)
Sexual health ‘master class’ for pre-teens offered online

‘The pressure is just so huge, even in Grade 5.’

Most Read