There's a new name on our list of possible Best Car To Buy winners. The 2021 Kia K5 replaced the Optima this year, and while we'll take a real name over alphanumeric badges any day, the K5 neatly erases the Optima from our memory banks and fills the void with feel-good family-car vibes.
Wider, lower, longer, and more handsome than the Optima it replaces, the K5 doesn't return with a hybrid version, though it does now offer all-wheel drive. In its stock configuration the K5 sports a 1.6-liter turbo-4 with 180 horsepower; on the way is a 290-hp turbo-4. Kia fits an 8-speed automatic with keenly spaced shifts and snip-quick responses. The K5's an alert performer, even with all-wheel drive and big 18-inch wheels that add weight to its deft steering and impart a little roughness to its otherwise smooth, solid ride quality.
The K5 attracts more attention than the Optima. It's drawn with a more tense, sharp exterior, one with a hawk-like nose and LED lighting leading the way down deeply sculpted sides. The roofline's traced with a band of metallic trim, but the K5 drops the Optima's blacked-out trim at the rear roof pillars for a more substantial look. The cabin's trimmed in textured plastic and knit fabric on lower-end editions; we're fans of the ritzy open-pore wood and synthetic leather upholstery found on the business-class EX model.
2021 Kia K5
2021 Kia K5
2021 Kia K5
With a growth spurt in wheelbase, the K5's more comfortable for front passengers, and two adults fit easily in the back seat; a fifth will fit if they're slim. The 16-cubic-foot trunk holds its own compared to some larger sedans, too.
The 2021 K5 has extraordinary value on its standard equipment list, from automatic emergency braking to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, to a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty. Options range from Bose premium audio to adaptive cruise control, to a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and cooled front seats.
We give the 2021 Kia K5 a TCC Rating of 7.4 out of 10. Stay tuned; come January 4, we may give it a shiny trophy, too.
Follow along as we crown The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2021 on Jan. 4, and reveal the best vehicles in 15 categories to help you choose the best cars, trucks, and SUVs. Vote for our annual Driver’s Choice awards and tell us what you think is best in every category. We'll also announce the winners from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports.