2021 Kia K5 is a Stinger-inspired midsize sedan

Love the idea of the rear-wheel-drive Kia Stinger but just can’t swing the price tag? The 2021 Kia K5 promises to be the next-best thing, while also delivering the practicality and comfort expected of a modern midsize sedan. 

“K5” has been the name of the Korean-market Optima since its major redesign in 2010, and with the 2021 model, that name is coming to America. With this re-branding comes a major overhaul to Kia’s four-door family car, including available all-wheel drive and a new performance GT model that will likely be met with approval by fans of the Stinger sport sedan. 

On the outside, the K5 looks like, well, an Optima. Kia seems content with its current “tiger face” design. The new K5 design has obvious influences from the Stinger, but that car’s design wasn’t really all that much of a departure from the previous-generation Optima’s, so the family resemblance remains strong.

As with any major redesign, there’s plenty more action underneath the K5’s sheet metal. The new sedan will be offered with two turbocharged engines and, for the first time in a front-wheel-drive Kia sedan, an all-wheel-drive option will be offered for those who want a little more all-weather functionality. 

The base engine will be a 1.6-liter four-cylinder producing 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. On the base-model LX, it will be paired exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission (no CVT here, at least not yet) and front-wheel drive. On the LXS and GT Line, all-wheel drive will be available. 

For those who want performance, the GT model is your ticket. Powered by the company’s new 2.5-liter turbo-4, the GT will boast 290 hp and a class-leading 311 lb-ft of torque paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Kia says this combo will be good for a 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds. 

Inside, the K5 gets numerous upgrades over the outgoing Optima. Shown here in GT-Line and GT guise, the interior will be available with perforated leather seating options with contrast stitching for a little added pizzazz. The flat-bottom steering wheel pictured is also exclusive to the GT-Line and GT trims. Other available features include wireless device charging, heated and ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel.

The base infotainment system will be an 8-inch touchscreen unit with a 10.25-inch upgrade available; both will be powered by the latest revision of Kia’s excellent UVO software suite. Buyers who opt for the 8-inch unit can take advantage of wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration for the first time; this will not be available on the 10.25-inch unit, at least initially.

On the safety and driver assistance front, the K5 will have standard forward collision warning and collision assist, driver attention monitoring and basic lane-keeping assist. Forward collision avoidance, blind spot monitoring and collision avoidance, park assist, adaptive cruise control and highway semi-self driving are all available as optional upgrades. 

At launch, only the LX, LXS, GT-Line and EX will be available. The sporty GT will follow in the fall, Kia says, and all-wheel drive variants will also be late-availability. Pricing, fuel economy figures and further details on the GT model are expected closer to launch.