Kia officially said goodbye to Optima with the introduction of the 2021 Kia K5, a great looking family sedan. For buyers that want more fun, there’s also the K5 GT, a fun to drive sedan with close to 300 horsepower on tap.
Starting with the good stuff, what’s under the hood. The GT is powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers a nice 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. That’s a big four-cylinder, but we welcome the power that turns the K5 GT into a sport sedan, that’s only let down by its slippery tires. Since all that torque is available at the low end, it’s really easy to spin the tires. The K5 GT packs a nice punch, we just wish that it was available with all-wheel drive, like the lesser powered K5 models.
The four-cylinder is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. The transmission shifts smoothly and does a good job of finding the right gear without any drama. The only downside is when you’re moving from a stop the transmission isn’t as smooth as a standard automatic transmission with a torque converter. In heavy traffic, the transmission is noticeable and seems a bit jerky.
The K5 GT is rated at 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined.
Moving past the powertrain, the K5 GT is a competent family sedan with little body roll and acceptable steering feel. The suspension is pretty firm, which might be due to the 19-inch wheels with the 245/40 Pirelli P Zero all-season tires. It’s firm, but not too punishing when the road gets rough.
On the outside the K5 GT looks great with its sleek roofline that makes it look more like a fastback than a traditional sedan. It’s profile gives us Audi A7 vibes and that’s a good thing. The good news is that even with that short trunk lid, the trunk opening is still large enough for you to put your gear in. There’s 16 cubic feet of cargo space, which is just under what you get with the Honda Accord, but more than the Toyota Camry.
The K5’s interior is a big step up from the Optima with more style and higher quality materials. Everything you touch or look at is wrapped in premium materials. The ergonomics are great too, since the center stack is slightly angled toward the driver, making it easier to reach the infotainment screen or climate controls. The K5 GT keeps a traditional gear selector, which feels great and matches the sporty personality of the powertrain.
There are two infotainment screens available in the K5, an 8-inch display or a 10.3-inch screen. Both systems have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but only the smaller system has wireless connectivity. Our tester had the larger system and the good news is that the infotainment system is super responsive and easy to use. In front of the driver there’s a small digital screen that’s flanked by the analog speedometer and tachometer, but we wish the K5 GT had a fully digital gauge cluster. The gauges look dated and don’t match the stunning styling of the rest of the K5.
On the safety front, the K5 GT comes standard with automatic emergency braking, a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert with automatic braking, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams. Overall the driver assistance features operate as you would expect, but the lane keeping assist can tug too much at the steering wheel when you come up on a slight turn.
The 2021 Kia K5 GT starts at $31,585, including destination. There’s the optional GT1 package for $4,100 that adds the larger infotainment screen, a heated steering wheel, a Bose audio system, ventilated front seats and a long list of driver assistance tech features. At $35,685, the fully loaded K5 GT is a steal.
At the end of the day, the Kia K5 GT is an excellent family sedan with its good looks, great interior and powerful powertrain.