Caraganza First Drive Review 2021 Kia K5 GT-Line: The new ideal

2021 K5 GT-Line AWD
Lost among a crowd of SUVs and crossovers are the once mighty sedans. It wasn’t all that long ago that having a family sedan was the norm, not the exception.

My, how the times have changed.

Today it’s rare to see a family sedan, much less bring a new one to the market.

Enter Kia.

Kia is not so much introducing a new sedan as it is reintroducing a redesigned Optima. The Optima has been Kia’s mid-sized family sedan since 2000. Kia decided it needed a makeover for 2021. It’s now longer, lower and has a wider stance, and is now known as the K5. It shares its platform with the Hyundai Sonata which was redesigned last year.

Kia sent me a K5 for a recent week, and I was very nicely surprised.

The K5 can be had in five trim levels: LX, LXS, GT-Line, EX and GT. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional the LXS and GT-Line.

The thing I like about Kia is the affordability. The base K5 LX starts at $24,455 and the top of the line GT at $31,455. Standard features include an 8-inch touchscreen, wireless AppleCarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. Moving up the line adds such things as keyless entry with push-button start and remote ignition, smartphone-based remote monitoring and control, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, cloth and simulated leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 10-inch touchscreen,  a  panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, and a wireless smartphone charging. Options include a premium 12-speaker Bose sound system, a heated steering wheel, satellite radio and rear parking sensors.

2021 K5 GT-Line AWD

All the lineups get safety features including forward collision mitigation, lane keeping assist and driver attention warning. Starting at the LXS you can option in a blind-spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and a rear passenger safe-exit system.

All K5s save for the GT have a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque under the hood with an 8-speed automatic delivering the power to the road (16 inch shoes on the base, 18 inch on the GT-Line and GT). Front wheel drive is standard and for the first-time all-wheel drive is an option.

The top of line GT, expected to come out later in the year, will have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 290 horses and 311 lb-ft. paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic that Kia developed in-house.

My tester for the week was the GT-Line and I have to say I was impressed from the start. There are some Stinger styling hints in the exterior design. But it’s the interior design that really won me over. It has an upscale feel complete with wood trim and mine had the red leather upholstery. The 8-inch touchscreen is nicely positioned, and the hi-res 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster can be set to several different themes. My tester had the panoramic sunroof and the wireless charging which is conveniently located in the center armrest and is actually a slot. Very ingenious. The backseats also seem roomy and comfortable.

On the road, aided in large part by the upscale interior, the drive belies the fact that this is a Kia. No, it’s not a BMW, but considering that you could put this thing in your driveway for under $30,000 it’s very impressive.

I was a bit skeptical of the 1.6 liter. Would it have enough power? It did, it did indeed. I suspect the 2.5 will give the GT a bit of extra ‘umph’ but for everyday use the 1.6 should work just fine. With its luxurious interior, great looks and smooth ride, there’s no reason this Optima, now the K5 won’t be a hit among the mid-sized sedan crowd.

Overall, the week with the K5 was a nice one. Made nicer by the fact that it’s not out of the budget of most people. The K5 is a classy sedan inside and out, and while it might not rival some of those made in Germany, in the midsized sedan game the K5 is a solid player.

The 2021 Kia K5 GT-Line
MSRP: $25,390
MSRP (as tested): $28,400
Engine: 1.6 liter turbocharged 1-4 180hp @5,500 rpm, 195 lb-ft. torque @1500 rpm
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 27 city, 37 highway, 31 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 35mpg
Base Curb weight (FWD): 3,228 lbs.
Interior Dimensions (inches)
Front head room: 38
Rear head room: 37
Front shoulder room: 58
Rear shoulder room: 56
Front hip room: 57
Rear hip room: 57
Front leg room: 46.1
Rear leg room: 35.2
Luggage capacity: 16.0 cu.ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 16.0 cu.ft.
Standard seating: 5

Exterior Dimensions (Inches)
Length: 193.1
Body width: 73.2
Body height: 56.9
Wheelbase: 112.2
Ground clearance: 5.3

Warranty – Basic (mths/miles)     60/60,000
Warrranty – Powertrain (mths/miles)     120/100,000
Warranty – Corrosion perforation (mths/miles)     60/100,000
Warranty – Roadside assistance (mths/miles)     60/60,000

Greg Engle