Even with the dwindling desirability of family sedans, Kia has crafted a compelling example with the all-new 2021 K5. Its daring design evokes sportiness and luxuriousness, and the sleek-looking four-door is a legitimate head-turner. The cabin is elegantly appointed and brimming with high-tech content, such as a digital gauge cluster and cool ambient lighting. While the K5 isn’t particularly entertaining to drive, its powertrain and ride provide a refined experience. The 290-hp GT model comes with performance equipment that should give it a more entertaining attitude. A spacious back seat and generous trunk also make it a useful alternative to popular crossover SUVs, especially with its optional all-wheel-drive system. The death of the mid-size sedan may be imminent, but the 2021 K5 aims to be one of the best left.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The K5 will offer a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that makes 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. This engine will be paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive will be optional. The Korean-spec version we drove was front-wheel drive and demonstrated decent acceleration around town. However, it was less impressive at highway speeds, where it needed extra time to execute passes. Still, its dutiful transmission and well-insulated cabin helped ensure its engine noise never rose above a dull roar. Although it won’t be available right away, the sportier K5 GT will have a more powerful turbocharged engine. Its 2.5-liter four-cylinder will make 290 horses and 311 lb-ft. It’ll pair with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic that Kia developed in-house, and the GT will wear sticky Pirelli P Zero summer tires that should improve its braking and cornering performance versus the regular models.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates the front-drive 2021 K5 will earn up to 29 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Both those ratings fall within 1 mpg of similarly equipped rivals, such as the Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry. However, we don’t know how efficient the all-wheel-drive K5 or the more powerful GT model will be. Once all of its estimates are released, and we have the opportunity to test each model on our 200-mile highway route, we can evaluate their real-world mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the K5 looks amazing for how much it’s expected to cost. The layout is both sophisticated and straightforward, and the cabin is appointed with attractive materials such as wood trim on the dash and doors. The model we drove boasted leather upholstery and a nicely contoured, leather-wrapped steering wheel. It also had a dazzling 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with customizable themes and high-resolution graphics. The K5 also offers an array of upscale interior features, such as ambient interior lighting on the dash and doors, a head-up display, heated and ventilated fronts seats, heated rear seats, an air-purification system, a panoramic sunroof, and a wireless charging pad. While the driver’s seat feels high even at its lowest point, the comfortable spot for your left foot and floor-hinged accelerator are nice touches. The back seat also provides generous legroom, and the trunk looks to have plenty of space for luggage.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The K5 comes with a standard 8.0- or an optional 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is enclosed in a large piano-black bezel that also houses the car’s gauge cluster. While both systems have a volume knob as well as physical buttons on the steering wheel, the rest of its controls are touch-sensitive, which can be distracting. While the smaller display offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, the larger screen does not and requires a corded connection. However, the upgraded unit does have customizable profiles and the ability to connect two Bluetooth devices at the same time. The K5 is also available with a 12-speaker Bose audio system for those want the best auditory experience.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 K5 hasn’t been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The mid-size sedan will offer a variety of standard and optional driver-assistance technology.