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2021 Kia K5

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$23,490 - 30,490 MSRP

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2021 Kia K5 Review

The 2021 Kia K5 has an above-average predicted reliability rating and plenty of standard tech features, but it lags behind midsize car rivals when it comes to athleticism and rear-seat headroom. The K5 does not have an overall score or ranking because it hasn't been fully crash tested.

Pros & Cons

  • Comfortable ride
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Generous list of standard features
  • Good predicted reliability rating
  • Less athletic than rivals
  • Snug rear headroom

New for 2021

  • All-new model replaces Optima
  • More-powerful four-cylinder base engine
  • Optional 290-horsepower turbocharged engine
  • Available all-wheel drive
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission now standard

Research & Ratings

The 2021 Kia K5 is unranked in Midsize Cars due to missing safety data. Currently, the Kia K5's overall score is not available, though its Critics' Rating, Performance score, and Interior score are based on our evaluation of 10 pieces of research and data.




Critics' Rating: 8.6
Performance: 7.9
Interior: 7.2
This model has never been fully tested for safety. As a result, it doesn't have an overall score and cannot be ranked against other midsize cars.
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Kia K5?

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 Is the Kia K5 a Good Car?

 Yes, the new 2021 Kia K5 is a good sedan. Serving as Kia's replacement for the Optima, it offers a swath of standard tech features, plenty of cargo space, and a comfortable ride. It also has one of the best predicted reliability ratings in the midsize car class.

 However, the K5 doesn’t do much to separate itself from rivals. It’s fuel economy estimates are middling, and while it has a quality interior, there are a number of plastic touch points throughout the cabin. This Kia’s handling is well-balanced, but several classmates offer a more engaging driving experience.

Why You Can Trust Us: 10 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

Should I Buy the Kia K5?

The 2021 Kia K5 is a well-rounded sedan worthy of your consideration. However, you should shop around before settling on this Kia because there are several terrific options in the midsize car class.

The Toyota Camry is more fun to drive than the K5, and it comes with a similar list of standard tech and safety features. Meanwhile, the slightly more expensive Hyundai Sonata carries the best safety ratings in the segment and matches the K5’s above-average predicted reliability rating.

Compare the K5, Camry, and Sonata »

2020 vs. 2021 Kia K5: What's the Difference?

Kia introduces the 2021 K5 as a totally redesigned replacement of the Kia Optima. As such, there are many differences between the two Kia sedans. A few of the more prominent differences include completely revamped interior and exterior styling and a more powerful standard turbocharged engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is newly available, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now come standard.

Compare the 2020 Optima and 2021 K5 »

Here are the key changes for the Optima and K5 over the last few years:

  • 2017: gained available automatic high-beam headlights, adaptive headlights, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control
  • 2018: blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and a touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay added to standard features list; S trim debuted
  • 2019: refreshed styling; several active safety features became standard
  • 2020: no notable changes
  • 2021: all-new K5 replaces the Optima

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Optima, 2019 Optima, and 2020 Optima reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Kia K5 Cost?

The 2021 K5 has a starting price of $23,490, which is in line with most competitors in the midsize car class. However, starting prices for the higher K5 trims, like the EX (MSRP: $27,990) and the GT (MSRP: $30,490), are below average compared to most rivals’ top trims.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

Kia K5 Versus the Competition

Kia K5 vs. Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is one of the best midsize cars on the market and certainly a worthwhile purchase. The Camry is slightly more expensive than the Kia, but it brings more to the table, including a more engaging driving experience, a stronger and more fuel-efficient base engine, and standard tech amenities like satellite radio and a Wi-Fi hot spot.

That’s not to say the Kia doesn’t hold its own against the Toyota. The K5 has a higher predicted reliability rating and carries a bevy of standard features similar to the Camry’s. You can’t go wrong choosing between these two sedans, but if you prefer a sportier drive and have a little room in your budget, go with the Camry.

Compare the K5 and Camry »

Kia K5 vs. Hyundai Sonata

The Hyundai Sonata is a great sedan and features one of the nicest cabins in the class. As corporate siblings, the Hyundai and Kia carry nearly identical lists of standard and available features, and both have roomy cabins and 16-cubic-foot trunks. However, the Sonata has class-leading safety ratings and more headroom than the Kia.

On the flip side, the K5 feels more athletic than the Sonata, and it's available with all-wheel drive and an optional turbo-four engine that has far more horsepower than anything the Sonata offers. Your decision between these two cars will likely come down to personal preference.

Compare the K5 and Sonata »

Compare the K5, Camry, and Sonata »

K5 Interior: Plastic-ly Opulent

K5 Cargo Space

With 16 cubic feet of space, the K5’s trunk provides more cargo room than most in the midsize car class. This Kia comes standard with fixed second-row seats, but all trims above the base LX feature a 60/40-split-folding rear seat. An automatic hands-free trunk lid is available.

How Many People Does the K5 Seat?

Up to five people can sit in this Kia, and it provides more than enough legroom for 6-footers in both rows. However, due to the sloping roofline, rear headroom may be in short supply for taller passengers.

Cloth upholstery comes standard, while synthetic leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, front sport seats, a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, and power-adjustable front seats are available.

K5 and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat.

K5 Interior Quality

The Kia K5 sports an elegant and modern interior. Soft-touch surfaces abound in the sleek cabin. There are also a handful of plastic touch points, but they are strategically placed and of higher quality than the word "plastic" suggests.

K5 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

This Kia is equipped with the brand’s UVO infotainment system, which is known for being user-friendly and easy to navigate.

The standard 8-inch touch screen has crisp graphics, but there is a slight delay when inputting touch commands. There are also well-positioned buttons and knobs to help with commonly used functions. However, these buttons and knobs are replaced by somewhat cumbersome digital controls with the optional 10.25-inch touch screen.

New for this year, Kia implements a wireless connection for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with the standard touch screen. Oddly though, if you opt for the larger touch screen, you'll need to use a cord to integrate your smartphone.

  • Standard infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, two USB ports, a six-speaker stereo, remote keyless entry, and HD Radio
  • Available infotainment features: a 10.25-inch touch screen, satellite radio, navigation, multi-device Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, a 12-speaker Bose stereo system, and three additional USB ports
  • Additional standard features: dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Other available features: a panoramic sunroof, wireless device charging, proximity keyless entry, an automatic trunk lid, push-button start, and remote engine start

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

K5 Performance: Soft, Supple, Sleepy

Kia K5 Engine

This Kia comes with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder base engine that pumps out 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. While seemingly small for a sedan, this turbo-four provides plenty of power for everyday use. It's paired with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.

The optional 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder increases the K5's power output to 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. This engine comes with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This powertrain won’t be available until late 2020.

Kia K5 Gas Mileage

With its 1.6-liter engine, the K5 gets an EPA-estimated 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. That's slightly above average for a midsize sedan. Models with the 2.5-liter engine have yet to be tested.

Kia K5 Ride and Handling

The K5 feels comfortable and composed on the road. It absorbs most road blemishes with aplomb, and most critics agree that the cabin is quiet. However, the K5 is not particularly sporty, and it doesn’t tackle corners with as much precision as rivals like the Mazda6 and Honda Accord.

Read more about performance »

K5 Reliability

Is the Kia K5 Reliable?

The 2021 Kia K5 has a good predicted reliability rating of four out of five.

Kia K5 Warranty

The K5 is covered by a basic warranty lasting five years or 60,000 miles and a powertrain warranty lasting 10 years or 100,000 miles. Those are lengthier warranties than what many rivals offer.

Read more about reliability »

Kia K5 Safety

K5 Crash Test Results

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2021 Kia K5.

K5 Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Forward collision warning
  • Forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Lane keep assist with lane departure warning
  • Driver attention monitoring
  • Rear-seat reminder
  • Automatic high-beam headlights

Available advanced safety features:

  • Blind spot collision avoidance system
  • Rear cross traffic avoidance assist
  • Highway driving assist (can automatically adjust the car's speed to match posted speed limits and maintain set distance with the vehicle in front)
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Safe exit assist
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Reverse automatic emergency braking

Read more about safety »

K5 Dimensions and Weight

The Kia K5 is 16.1 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,115 to 3,228 pounds, and its gross vehicle weight rating is 4,354 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Kia K5 Built?

Kia builds the 2021 K5 in Georgia.

Which Kia K5 Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Kia K5 comes in five trims: LX, LXS, GT-Line, EX, and GT. A 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive come standard in all trims except the GT, which will hit the sales lots in late 2020. All-wheel drive is available in the LXS and GT-Line trims only.

The base LX trim should satisfy most driver’s needs as it provides a solid number of standard tech and safety features, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an 8-inch touch screen, and automatic emergency braking. If you have room in your budget, we suggest going with the GT-Line trim. It comes with more driver safety features, and it's the first trim to offer optional upgrades such as the 10.25-inch touch screen and advanced safety features like highway driving assist and adaptive cruise control.

Kia K5 LX

The 2021 Kia K5 LX starts at $23,490. Standard features include cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, 16-inch alloy wheels, HD Radio, an 8-inch touch screen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, a six-speaker stereo system, and two USB ports.

The LX also comes with safety features like forward collision warning, forward automatic braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high-beam assist, and a rear-seat alert. The only notable option is the remote engine-start feature, which you can get for an additional $425.

Kia K5 LXS

The K5 LXS starts at $24,490. This trim has everything in the base trim and adds an automatic hands-free trunk, remote keyless entry, remote engine start, push-button start, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, blind spot monitoring collision avoidance, rear cross traffic collision avoidance, and safe exit assist. The LXS is the first trim available with all-wheel drive. AWD costs an extra $2,100 and includes heated front seats.

Kia K5 GT-Line

Starting at $25,390, the GT-Line features trim-specific exterior accents, 18-inch alloy wheels, two rear-seat USB ports, synthetic leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

For $1,600, you can add the Premium package, which includes a panoramic sunroof, wireless device charging, an upgraded forward collision avoidance system, and adaptive cruise control.

You can get both the Premium package and AWD for $3,700, or for $4,500, you can add the AWD Special Edition package, which includes a 10.25-inch touch screen, wire-connected Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, multiple-device Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, highway driving assist, and unique interior style accents.

Kia K5 EX

For $27,990, the EX trim adds a panoramic sunroof, satellite radio, an additional USB port (center console), wireless device charging, heated and ventilated front seats, and rear parking sensors.

For $3,400, you can add the EX Premium Package. In addition to the features of the GT-Line’s packages, the EX Premium Package adds a 12-speaker Bose audio system, a 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, driver’s seat memory, a heated steering wheel, safe exit assist, reverse automatic braking, and active cabin noise canceling.

Kia K5 GT

The top-of-the-line K5 GT trim has a starting price of $30,490. It features a 290-horsepower 2.5-liter turbo-four engine, a sport-tuned suspension, and front-wheel drive. Synthetic leather upholstery with unique styling, front sport seats, and 19-inch alloy wheels also come standard.

The GT trim drops standard EX trim amenities like ventilated seats, rear parking sensors, remote UVO link connectivity, and satellite radio. However, most of these are part of the only available package: the GT1 package. For an extra $4,000, it comes with all of the combined tech and safety contents of the previous packages.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Kia dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Kia deals page.

See 2021 Kia K5 specs and trims »

The Final Call

While the 2021 Kia K5’s robust list of standard features and good reliability rating make it a class contender, it doesn’t dominate the competitive midsize car segment as the outgoing Kia Optima did. With that said, this Kia’s value proposition, as compared to the Honda Accord or Hyundai Sonata, increases as you move up the trim levels, making this sedan an attractive option.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The Kia K5 ultimately seems unlikely to take home the prize in a comparison test. … But it delivers in other important areas that midsize buyers care about. It has muscular good looks, a classy interior and is cosseting on the road. And it all comes in at a strong price point. It’s must-see for any prospective midsize buyer." -- Autoblog
  • " The new Kia K5 may not be as engaging to drive as the Accord. … But what the K5 does offer is an impressively styled and smartly executed package that's studded with features and technology. Optima still has a better ring to it than K5, but Kia's redesigned mid-sizer is good enough that we don't really care what it's called." -- Car and Driver
  • "Never mind the name; just like the Optima, the K5 is a lot of car for the money and this model makes a strong statement right off the bat." -- CNET   
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