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Injecting sport into the midsize sedan segment.

The common wisdom among most automakers, especially our home-based companies, is that sedans are dead – long live SUVs, crossovers and trucks. Apparently, KIA missed the memo and has not only updated its midsize sedan offering, but changed it enough to change the name from Optima to K5.

Sporting Intentions

Our KIA was a GT-LINE with sporting trim like the black grille, dramatic alloy wheels and dual exhaust pipes along with sportier leather and cloth seats inside. KIA also offers a line-topping K5 GT that has a more powerful 2.5-liter, 290 HP engine and dual-clutch gearbox replacing the standard 1.6-liter, 180 HP/ eight-speed automatic combination. The K5 GT also adds bigger brakes, 19-inch wheels and other features along with $5,000 to the MSRP.

While I had hoped for the higher performance GT trim, the GT LINE acquitted itself surprisingly in the entertainment category of corner carving through nearby mountain roads along with winning style points with its sporty curb appeal. It’s KIA’s most popular K5 model and that’s understandable considering the nice balance of appearance, performance and value.

Driver Focused Interior

After sliding behind the GT-LINE’s leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed steering wheel, you’re met with a big analog-like tachometer and speedometer cluster that’s adjacent to a companion infotainment display. All trim levels offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality and connection was quick and easy.

Plenty of light, as well as fresh air if needed, is available from a panoramic sunroof and visibility is quite good considering a bit of coupe-like style similar to KIA’s Stinger offering. The rear seating and legroom is adequate to bring adults along with little complaint and low road noise adds to that attribute.

Driving Value

There’s stiff competition in the midsize sedan space, despite the absence of most domestic rivals. The remaining Chevy Malibu counterpart needs an update that’s unlikely to occur, but there are quite a few other choices in this category. Honda’s Accord and Toyota’s Camry are compelling rivals and VW’s Passat brings a bit of Euro driving charm. But just KIA and it’s relative Hyundai Sonata have the most impressive warranties in the segment and since they still have a bit less top of mind awareness than rivals, there are values at the dealership.


2021 K5 GT-LINE

TYPE:  Front-engine, front-wheel-drive

ENGINE:  1.8-liter Turbo I-4

HORSEPOWER:  180 @ 5,500 RPM

TORQUE:  195 lb.ft. @ 1,500 RPM

BASE PRICE: $25,390

AS TESTED:  $27,995

FUEL CONSUMPTION:  27-city, 37-highway, 31-combined

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