Kia is redesigning the Optima for 2021 and, in the process, gives the midsize sedan a new name. Called the 2021 Kia K5, the car features rakish styling, a high-tech interior, the latest in safety equipment, and plenty of performance measured in terms of both acceleration and efficiency.
When the new Kia K5 goes on sale in North America during the summer of 2020, it will come in LX, LXS, GT-Line, and EX trim levels. The racy K5 GT arrives later in the year.
Longer, wider, and lower than the Optima it replaces, the 2021 Kia K5 boasts new LED “heartbeat” daytime running light signatures front and rear. Expect this look to proliferate throughout the company’s lineup as vehicles are refreshed or redesigned.
In front, the latest evolution of Kia’s “tiger nose” grille leads the way, a look first seen on the redesigned 2021 Sorento. Additionally, the new K5 features a dramatic new fastback design that makes the car appear to have a rear liftgate similar to the Stinger. In reality, the K5 offers a roomy 16 cu.-ft. trunk.
The Kia K5 shares its platform and engineering with the recently redesigned Hyundai Sonata. Where the Sonata’s body sides swell between the wheel arches, Kia adopts a subtle “Coke bottle” tapering of the door skins for a leaner look. Chrome sweeps up from the base of each windshield pillar around the top of the side windows and then down and around the back glass in a continuous loop.
Wheel sizes range from 16 inches to 19 inches in diameter, the biggest aluminum alloy design bolted to the racy 2021 Kia K5 GT, which has a sportier appearance with a bolder front bumper and a rear bumper incorporating racy vents and a diffuser panel with clearly defined strakes. Dual trapezoidal exhaust outlets complete the K5 GT’s sport sedan look.
If the Kia K5’s exterior is wild, the interior is fairly mild. Designed to simple and minimalistic horizontal themes, the goal with the K5’s cabin is to present a sense of roominess and calm. There’s even an available Mood Lighting system and a Sound of Nature audio system playing what Kia characterizes as “natural soundscapes” to help soothe frazzled nerves.
Cloth or simulated leather is available in single- and two-tone cabin colour schemes. Trim and accents are rendered in polished metallic, simulated wood, and gloss black depending on the model, and a 10.25-inch widescreen infotainment display is available.
In addition to nicer wheels and an upgraded infotainment system with navigation, the 2021 Kia K5 optional equipment list offers wireless smartphone charging, heated seats, ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. Kia also plans to offer numerous convenience, infotainment, and safety-related technologies, some of which are outlined below.
Under the Hood
With most trim levels, a turbocharged 1.6-litre 4-cylinder delivers 180 hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, the latter spread across a broad rev range and available from just 1,500 rpm. Translated, that means this engine feels more energetic in the driving situations most people encounter on a daily basis. It’s paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission that powers the front wheels.
The 2021 Kia K5 GT gets a turbocharged 2.5-litre 4-cylinder with new dual fuel-injection technology and a next-generation thermal management system for maximum engine cooling. Kia says it makes 290 hp and 311 lb.-ft. of torque, which scoots the car to 60 mph in a claimed 5.8 seconds. A new 8-speed wet double-clutch transmission is exclusive to the GT, helping to ensure maximum performance and driving enjoyment.
Drive Mode Select offers five driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Smart, and Custom. With the K5 GT, a Sport+ mode is also available. All-wheel drive is a new option for the 2021 K5, making the car more appealing to cold-weather dwellers. You’ll need LXS or GT-Line trim and the standard engine in order to get it, though.
Kia confirms that hybrids will return to the global K5 lineup but has not announced anything official for the North American market.
Kia equips the new K5 with all of its latest advanced driving assist systems (ADAS). Highlights from the standard and optional equipment list include:
- adaptive cruise control that can incorporate information about the route ahead from the navigation system
- front and rear collision warning
- automatic front and rear emergency braking
- blind-spot warning with active intervention
- lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assistance
- rear cross-traffic warning
- safe vehicle exit assistance
- rear seat reminder system to prevent parents from leaving children inside the car
Additional safety technology includes a driver attention monitor with a new Leading Vehicle Departure Alert. This new function tells the driver when traffic ahead is moving again, just in case he or she is paying attention to something other than the road.
The Kia K5 also offers a new Junction Turning technology. It acts when the driver is making a left turn across traffic, preventing the K5 from advancing if oncoming vehicles are too close.
The more you spend on the new Kia K5, the more technology you’ll receive. Most noticeably, this includes
With a 10.25-inch widescreen infotainment system with navigation, which replaces a standard 8-inch display, includes a new voice recognition technology that allows the driver to control the stereo, climate system, power windows, and even the heated/ventilated seats and heated steering wheel using voice commands. Audiophiles will want the available 12-speaker Bose premium surround sound system.