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

The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)
Bail hearings going virtual in B.C.’s north

A court pilot project will see virtual courtroom cameras set up in seven RCMP detatchments

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Angelique Houlihan gets her COVID-19 vaccine jab last week at the community-wide clinic. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
Vaccine clinic continues this week

Plenty of booking spots available

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read