Kia’s Optima Reintroduced As The K5 And It’s All New

Kia’s Optima Reintroduced As The K5 And It’s All New

Kia’s Optima Reintroduced As The Kia K5 And It's All New
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For more than two decades, the Kia Optima has been one of the best midsize sedans on the road. Although it has never received the acclaim of a Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima, the Optima’s quality and performance are right up there with the best.

With the resurgence of Kia in recent years and the new focus on innovation and technology, the Kia Optima has improved every year. It seems as if there is always some new design aspect or technological feature to appreciate. The 2021 model is no exception.

What Is the 2021 Kia K5?

For the 2021 model year, Kia has revamped the Optima, even changing the name. It’s now the Kia K5. Kia also brought in a high-performance variant: the GT. The GT offers sporty exterior upgrades, bigger wheels, and a more powerful engine that we can’t get enough of. 

Long-time fans of the Optima will also be glad to hear that Kia has finally added AWD packages as an option for the 2021 models. If you can spare $3,700, you will get a package that also includes a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, and LED headlights.

What Is Under the Hood of the 2021 Kia K5?

The new K5 has five different trims, including the sporty GT, which really packs a punch. Four trim levels have the same1.6L turbocharged engine, which is fine for normal driving and is designed with fuel economy in mind, with EPA estimates of 32 miles per gallon for combined city and highway.

But to get the most out of the K5, spring for the nearly 300-horsepower engine and 8-speed automatic transmission that comes with the K5 GT. Take one for a drive and you’ll see why. 

Here is an overview of the engine performance of each 2021 K5 trim level:


Engine and Specifications


1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder, 180 hp, and 195 lb-ft torque


1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder, 180 hp, and 195 lb-ft torque


1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder, 180 hp, and 195 lb-ft torque


1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder, 180 hp, and 195 lb-ft torque


2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder, 290 hp, and 311 lb-ft torque 

The 180-horsepower engine in most of the models gets you up to speed quickly, but it is a bit disappointing on the highway. The engine huffs and puffs a bit when the car needs to accelerate to pass another vehicle. But with its higher-powered engine, the GT has no trouble passing anything. Its engine transforms the automobile formerly known as Optima into a whole new car.

The Interior of the 2021 Kia K5

The interior of the K5 is one of our favorite aspects of the model. When you sit in it, you feel as if you’re in a luxury vehicle. Kia has really nailed it with the updated interior: real wood trim around the cabin and a comfortable yet functional design.

Although the driver’s seat is a tad higher than normal, everything is strategically located to accommodate this elevated position, so nothing feels out of place. The heated and ventilated front seats, ambient lighting, and optional panoramic sunroof give you the feeling of being in a much more luxurious car.

The K5 comfortably seats up to five people, and both rows of seating offer plenty of legroom. To top it all off, the trunk has lots of cargo space: 16 cubic feet, making the K5 the perfect car for a road trip. Just load up and go.

The Technology of the 2021 Kia K5

The new Kia K5 comes with an upgraded infotainment system that has either the standard 8-inch touchscreen or the optional 10.25-inch touchscreen. We prefer the smaller 8-inch screen because it comes with wireless connectivity through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

Strangely, Kia omits these capabilities from the optional 10.25-inch screen; you have to use a wire to connect your phone to it. No matter which system you get, you have access to Bluetooth connectivity and an incredible-sounding 12-speaker Bose stereo system.

Best Tech Features

In addition to the upgraded infotainment system, the Kia K5 has a bunch of impressive tech features focused on safety and functionality that we really like. Our favorites:

  • Forward-collision avoidance with automatic braking.
  • Blind-spot monitoring.
  • Lane-keeping assist.
  • Lead-vehicle departure alert.
  • Driver-attention warning.
  • Adaptive cruise control.
  • Automatic temperature control.
  • Automatic high beams.
  • A wireless charging pad.
  • A digital gauge cluster.

Our Take on the 2021 Kia K5

At Car Digest, we are excited to see Kia drop the Optima name from its lineup and create the all-new K5 in its place. It demonstrates Kia’s willingness to do what it takes to provide a cutting-edge, high-quality product that will attract even more customers.

We are also happy to see the GT model, and we are blown away by its 290-horsepower motor. The optional AWD package—and everything that comes with it—is a great touch. But we wish that these options were standard on some of the higher-end models. The interior is surprisingly impressive; it feels like a bigger, more luxurious car than it really is.

We are fans of the 2021 Kia K5, and we can’t wait to see what Kia does next with it.


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