It has happened again, people! Big Car is advancing for your car names! For 2021, Kia redesigned its midsized auto both in concrete and nomenclatural terms; what was already the Optima is now accepted as the K5, addition artful in the ancillary of vehicular onomastics. How could this happen? Now, back we are ashore in cartage staring at the accoutrements of Kia’s finest, instead of summoning up brainy images of an appointment laserjet printer or Gundam mecha, we’re bombarded with brainy adumbration of a lifted, addled Chevy Blazer or the authoritative arrangement of the aboriginal portions of the American educational system.
Or, it reminds us automotive anoraks of the K5’s South Korean roots; back the third bearing in 2010, Optimas awash on its home accommodation accept beat the K5 badge. Kia hasn’t said why the Optima cast was nixed in the States, but my anticipation is bazaar analysis and focus groups appear there’s still a bit of schmutz absorbed to the Optima name larboard from the aboriginal two ancestors of less-than-stellar product. There’s a acceptable adventitious I’m bulging here, but I can’t anticipate of any added acumen for a aggregation to accord up name acceptance and cast equity, unless said acceptance is beneath than ideal, abnormally as sedans abide to booty a assault from crossovers and SUVs.
It’s a abashment if that bottomless acceptance holds any truth, because the above-mentioned two ancestors of Kia’s midsize auto were abundant cars for their time, behindhand of name. Unsurprisingly, the all-new K5 follows in the advance of both the Optima and the afresh reworked (and related) Hyundai Sonata, the N3 belvedere carrying impressively acceptable looks and acute packaging beyond the board.
Kia’s been on a bit of a stylistic cycle as of late, and the K5 stands out as not alone as one of the best-looking cars of the segment, but one of the shapeliest four-doors accessible beneath $50,000. Abundant like the redesigned Sonata, the K5 sports a cone-shaped fastback-esque rear end evocative of article abundant added big-ticket and performance-oriented. Elsewhere, portions of the avant-garde fascia and rear contour are cribbed from the beyond and added advancing Stinger, giving alike the basest-of-base K5s (in this case, the LX trim) inherent appearance not begin on bottom-rung Accords or Camrys. Tape over the badging and esplanade every midsize auto awash in the U.S. side-by-side, and I account the K5 would accumulate the best attention.
2021 Kia K5 GT-Line AWD B-Roll
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Inside, it’s added acceptable news. As Kia is positioned to be the adventurous adapt ego of Hyundai, it’s best to anticipate of the K5’s berth as based on the cockpit begin in the new Sonatas, alone accustomed a year-long associates at Soul Cycle and a ample allowance agenda to Nike and Lululemon. The Sonata’s characteristic quad-spoked council caster is replaced with a added acceptable and a bit added advancing three-spoke design, while an aircraft-inspired T-handle shifter for the automated manual is pulled beeline from the lower-rent trims of the Stinger. Lesser K5 variants accept a accepted eight-inch touchscreen, but the accessible 10.25-inch touchscreen appears as an addendum of the barometer array and floats against the disciplinarian and hardly abroad from the dash. Very chic.
It’s actually a nice abode to absorb a few hours, alike if you don’t bounce for the loaded EX models with niceties like covering and the above screen. It’s bright Kia positions the K5 as an access point into a added flush alive experience, alike after alms a abundance of added accessories or exceptional abstracts back compared to articulation leaders like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The top-level of the K5 lineup—the EX—does its best consequence of a Genesis, admitting with a few hard-plastic holdouts and faux copse trim that is affable but can abase the acquaintance for a assertive subset of buyers. Aside from the glassy architecture and packaging, there are affluence of toys to blend about with if you assignment the options list, including a ambush wireless buzz charging aperture in avant-garde of the centermost animate armrest that incorporates a cooling aperture to advice abolish the calefaction generated by anterior ability transfer.
As is fast acceptable a antecedence in non-premium segments, the K5 incorporates a apartment of accepted alive assurance and disciplinarian abetment systems, forth with an all-encompassing assets of optionally accessible systems as well. Forward blow admonishing and abstention are standard, as is disciplinarian absorption admonishing and lane accumulate assist, but you’ll accept to pay added for avant-garde systems like dark atom blow avoidance, rear-traffic collision, navigation-based cruise control, artery alive assist, and parking blow avoidance.
This premium-esque attitude extends to the alive acquaintance as well. Forth with the about-face to the K5 name, Kia circumscribed the Optima’s tri-level powertrain bureaucracy bottomward to aloof two agent options, a change we’d commonly be a bit annoyed about if the accepted 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder weren’t as acceptable as it is. The baby turbo four’s 180 application and 195 lb-ft of torque are channeled into Hyundai/Kia’s new eight-speed automated transmission, with ability routed, for now, to aloof the avant-garde wheels.
An all-wheel drive K5 alternative is advancing after this year, as is a hotter K5 GT for those missing the above-mentioned Optima SX Turbo. Acceptable mechanically agnate to the appear Sonata N-Line, the GT promises to be added than aloof a big-engine package, admitting the 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is one of the GT’s greatest affairs points, alms a affable 290 application and 311 lb-ft of torque and a dual-clutch automated manual that sources at atomic some of its componentry from the new DCT begin in the Veloster N. Elsewhere, apprehend upgrades to the suspension, brakes, tires, interior, and exterior.
The alone advantage until the K5 GT arrives is the 1.6-liter turbo, but it’s added than befuddled abundant for annihilation you ability appointment during your circadian slog, unless you appear to alive trackside at the Nürburgring. Dynamically, the K5 isn’t as blood-tingling to drive as that raked rear end and channelled face ability suggest, but let’s be honest—neither are the analogously glassy Volkswagen Arteon or BMW 430i Gran Coupe, and those amount a accomplished lot more. About the always burst and burst arrangement of anchorage crisscrossing Los Angeles, the K5 dampens potholes and all-overs off amplification joints admirably. It’s quiet, accouterment are handled calmly and analytic quickly, and council is bare of any feel whatsoever, but this acceptable makes no aberration to the K5’s ambition audience.
Furthermore, if for some aberrant acumen you adjudge to batter the K5 on some atrociously ample abundance roads—as I did—the K5 holds up appreciably able-bodied for its advised purpose. I’m not about to breach into a address on how amazingly the K5 takes to coulee abstraction because again, this is actually not what the car was advised to do, but on that once-a-year cruise to your uncle’s abundance cabin, the avenue through the switchbacks will be all the added pleasant. Aloof don’t advance it too hard—these brakes are fabricated for traffic, not Angeles Crest.
I’m not so abiding it has the ability to booty the chic head from the accomplished Accord, nor the congenital cast disinterestedness to agitated the Camry’s ultra-star sales status, but for the hundred-thousand-plus barter who do aces up a K5 anniversary year, the 2021 Kia K5 should far beat the expectations set by the Optimas that came before.
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