The world is a weird place. Somehow, the Kia Optima has become the K5, and it looks awesome. Not only that: It offers a 290 horsepower, 311 lb-ft 2.5-liter turbocharged engine bolted to a dual clutch transmission, and it can apparently go from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. Just look at this thing.
Damn Kia has been crushing it lately, which is a phrase that I’ve heard uttered many times over the past decade. Just last week, I called the new Kia Sedona minivan “gorgeous.” When the Kia Telluride came out, everyone sang the SUV’s praises. And the Stinger? Everyone agrees that, among sports sedans, it’s the real deal. So, given that kind of momentum, I shouldn’t be surprised that the new Kia K5 looks as good as it does.
My coworker Jason has already sung the new Kia K5's praises in his story “Holy Crap The New 2021 Kia Optima Looks Really Damn Good,” so I won’t really get too far into the design side of things. I’ll just say that I dig the “Tiger Nose” fascia (with grille texture that Kia says was inspired my shark skin) and the “Heartbeat” daytime running lights.
Let’s get into the hardware: The standard motor is a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline four (with continuously variable valve duration) making 180 HP and 195 lb-ft of torque, which is sent through a conventional eight-speed automatic to either the front wheels or all four wheels.
The highest trim-level, the GT, gets a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four making 290 HP and 311 lb-ft of torque, sending it all through a standard dual wet clutch transmission and then to the front wheels. The outgoing optima made up to 245 HP and 260 lb-ft, in case you were curious, and sent that power through a six-speed auto (though a seven-speed dual clutch was available on 1.6 models).
“For now, all-wheel drive is just going to be offered with the 1.6,” a Kia representative told me over the phone about the K5. It’s a bummer that it seems like all-wheel drive is mostly there to aid with winter driving, and not so much for performance reasons; a high-horsepower all-wheel drive model could have been cool. But hey, maybe the front-drive GT will be a lot of fun? The 1.6-liters weigh in at only about 3,200 pounds; if the GT sits anywhere near that, I bet it could be quick around a track.
The K5 sits on a new platform that Kia calls “N3.” The vehicle is two inches longer than the outgoing Optima, an inch wider, 1.8 inches longer in wheelbase, but 0.8 inches lower. Kia claims the K5 is quieter than the Optima, and that its MacPherson strut front suspension and multilink rear have been “optimized for sporty handling, responsiveness and stability.”
The interior also looks damn good, especially on the GT. The standard infotainment screen is eight inches across, while a 10.25-incher is optional. Apple carplay is standard, as is dual-zone temperature control, in case you were curious.
There are also a bunch of standard and available safety features, with Lane Keep Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, and High Beam Assist coming as standard, and Navigation Based Smart Cruise Control (which slows the car down in turns) and Highway Driving Assist (which acts as adaptive cruise control and also adjusts speed based on speed limits) as options.
The Kia K5 goes on sale this summer, with all-wheel drive models coming later in the year.