The last time Kia rebooted its mid-size sedan, it debuted the 2011 Optima. Back when the Accord looked bloated and the Camry was about as visually stimulating as a disposable paper bowl of tapioca pudding, Kia’s swoopy sedan was a design revelation. Ten model years later, the engineers in Seoul are hoping lightning strikes twice with the 2021 Kia K5.
Compared to its Optima predecessor, the K5 cuts a sharper profile. Indeed, an extra 45 mm of wheelbase and a 20 mm lower roofline help to accentuate its fastback proportions. So does a strategically-shaped piece of c-pillar trim that fools the eye into thinking the roofline is swoopier than it actually is. The front end treatment is very interesting with winged headlights and z-shaped daytime running lights sitting inside a virtually-frameless full-width grille. Around the back there’s a full-width taillight design and the license plate is mounted low down on the bumper to preserve a sleek look. Overall, the new Kia K5 looks quite stylish and modern without being unnecessarily aggressive or garish.
On the inside, the 2021 Kia K5 gets a lovely mix of high technology and metalwork. Two touchscreen infotainment systems are available, an eight-inch unit and a 10.25-inch unit. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, but strangely only on the smaller screen. For those who like music, a 12-speaker Bose audio system is also on offer as an upgrade. The arguable centerpiece of the interior’s craftsmanship is the rifled trim around the centre HVAC vents, a finish more famously found on the exhaust tips of certain Bentleys. Said finish is echoed throughout the cabin on various bits of switchgear. It seems that the lessons learned while designing the Telluride are paying off.
The 2021 Kia K5 rides on the new N3 platform which is claimed to pay dividends in safety, interior room, handling and quietness over the outgoing Optima. Standard power comes courtesy of a 1.6-litre turbocharged direct-injected four-cylinder engine making 180 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque hitched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. For those who prefer to start their day with a can of Red Bull rather than a coffee, a 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder will be available later on, sporting both port and direct injection, 290 horsepower and 311 lb.ft. of torque. That 2.5 also comes attached to an eight-speed wet dual clutch transmission which should offer superior durability and performance over a dry dual-clutch transmission. As expected in 2020, a full suite of active driver safety aids is available.
Pricing for the 2020 Kia K5 is expected to be announced in the fall of 2020, although if it doesn’t deviate too wildly from the Optima’s pricing the K5 should find a home on many Canadians’ driveways.