2022 Kia K5

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
October 20, 2021

Buying tip

The K5 EX has the nicer interior and bigger screen, and can be fitted with the surround-view camera system; it’s the spendy alternative to our bargain LXS pick.

features & specs

EX Automatic FWD
GT-Line Automatic AWD
27 city / 37 hwy
24 city / 32 hwy
25 city / 33 hwy

The 2022 Kia K5 jump-starts its more engaging future with a sharper image and a 290-hp GT edition.

What kind of car is the 2022 Kia K5? What does it compare to?

A five-seat sedan with a new face and a new name (formerly, it was the Optima), the 2022 Kia K5 competes with cars like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Hyundai Sonata.

Is the 2022 Kia K5 a good car?

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Sold in LX, LXS, GT-Line, EX, and GT models, the K5’s especially good at safety and features. We give the 2022 K5 a TCC Rating of 7.3 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2022 Kia K5?

Navigation is standard on GT-Line and above, and a surround-view camera system becomes available on the EX and GT.

With its daring, almost menacing look, and a cabin built for long-distance or daily drives, the K5 joins the movement toward more showy mid-size family sedans. Framed with LED lighting and a hawklike grille, the K5 has a pretty roofline graced with metallic trim and a wide band of taillights that render it lithe and attractive.

The K5 spikes our interest with a new GT edition. The GT’s good for 290 hp, but delivers it through the front wheels, sometimes to the detriment of steering and stability. Most K5s have a 180-hp turbo-4 that’s efficient and perky enough, with a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic. They can be configured with all-wheel drive, while the GT comes only with front-wheel drive.

With its slightly longer wheelbase versus the former Optima, the K5 has ample space for four big passengers; a fifth can slot in the back seat for short trips. The trunk’s ample, at 16.0 cubic feet, too. At the EX and GT trim levels the K5 wears a high grade of synthetic leather and trim, but lesser versions do with more indifferent stuff.

Safety scores have been good, and the K5 has standard active lane control and automatic emergency braking. On top trims, a head-up display and a surround-view camera system cost extra.

How much does the 2022 Kia K5 cost?

The $24,685 K5 LX comes with power features, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty. Spend a little more for the $25,685 K5 LXS and its split-folding rear seat and blind-spot monitors—or go plush with the $29,585 EX, which has synthetic leather upholstery and LED headlights. 

Where is the 2022 Kia K5 made?

In West Point, Georgia.


2022 Kia K5


A dramatic shape signals ambition.

Is the Kia K5 a good-looking car?

It is, from its hawklike nose to its smartly organized cabin. We give it a 7, with a point extra for each of those.

The details can fuss with its shape, but the K5 has a crisp and attractive design. The lighting design slashes around its honeycomb grille, while hood creases underscore a grille that’s angled and shaped like a beak. It’s almost predatory. It hits a snag at the base of the windshield, where a few lines intersect in a busy way, but Kia draws attention away from that spot with heavy body flares along its waist and with a strip of chrome that runs the length of the roofline. The short trunk and full-width taillights bring it all to a nicely stated conclusion. 

The K5 cabin has a more resolutely normal appearance, and it’s decked out with lots of glossy trim and hard plastic in low-cost versions. Spend up to the EX and GT and the K5 adopts more padded trim, more metallic trim, and even open-pore woodgrain. On all K5s, a large touchscreen sits atop the dash: It’s an 8.0-inch display on some, a 10.3-inch on sedans that come with navigation.

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2022 Kia K5


The K5 nudges the performance needle just a little in the right direction.

Turbo-4 power, good suspension tuning, and hefty steering feel give the K5 something more than forgettable performance. With a point extra for its ride, it’s a 6 here.

Is the Kia K5 4WD?

Some versions have all-wheel drive—but oddly, not the strongman 290-hp K5 GT.

How fast is the Kia K5?

Most K5 sedans have a 180-hp 1.6-liter turbo-4, which sends its power to the front or all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic. It’s a reasonably strong performer, with swift gearchanges and a torque peak that arrives early to give it good off-the-line acceleration. It’s pretty quiet on the move, and has drive modes that help it shift and respond more quickly to stabby inputs at the gas. Whether you need the extra weight of all-wheel drive depends on how much and how long the roads get covered in ice; for most of us, it’s an extra spend to skip.

Putting it into Sport mode also loads up the steering with more weight, which yields usable on-center weight that can keep the K5 in its lane better. It doesn’t have much feeling, but the steering takes precision seriously. 

At lower speeds, the K5’s ride can feel and sound noisy and lumpy, particularly with the 18-inch wheels on high-end trims. It gets better at speed with the mid-range 17-inch wheels, where it’s tuned for a well-controlled and absorbent ride. The K5’s brakes perform well at any speed; the pedal doesn’t get overly stiff or mushy.

K5 GT performance

The K5 GT swaps out the small-displacement engine for a 2.5-liter turbo-4 rated at 290 hp. Good for 0-60 mph times estimated at 5.8 seconds, the turbo-4 delivers 311 lb-ft of torque through an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic.

It sends all that power to the front wheels, and as a result, the K5 GT can spin its tires and overwhelm them—entertaining to some, less useful to others. With no discernible turbo lag and with an extra Sport+ drive mode that cranks up shift speed, throttle input, and steering heft, the GT can legitimately claim sport-sedan status.

It lives up to the claim with its ride and handling, too, though both venture over the firmness line. The K5’s steering offers more feedback than other versions, even with all-season tires. And on its conventional strut-and-multilink suspension, it’s endowed with stiffer bushings and shocks to cut down on body lean in corners, though it’s still set more to daily-driver tastes than to canyon charging.

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2022 Kia K5

Comfort & Quality

With space for five and a big trunk, the K5 sweeps up in utility.

The K5 can fit up to five passengers and bring along their bags, but Kia divides its clientele with plain base cars and ritzy upscale ones. We give the K5 an 8 here for its good front- and back-seat comfort, and the sizable trunk. 

At 193.1 inches long, riding on a 112.2-inch wheelbase, the K5 lands squarely in the mid-size category. In front, passengers take their seats with a good range of adjustment. Power seats slide into mid-level models, and heating and cooling join with synthetic leather on more expensive models. Kia’s seat coolers have a pronounced outline that cuts comfort on long-distance drives, but they’re necessary in some climates, where the catcher’s mitt can turn into an oven mitt.

In back, the K5 has tall doors and good head room; 6-footers can fit even with the panoramic sunroof in place, and they’ll enjoy 35.2 inches of leg room. Three across can happen, if it needs to—or, the rear seat can fold down on most models to expand the 16.0-cubic-foot trunk.

We like the K5’s jaunty style, but the GT-Line and lesser models have more hard plastic than the GT or EX models. All versions have fingerprint-rich glossy plastic door pulls that will drive the persnickety up a wall. On the EX and GT, the addition of synthetic leather renders the cabin more expensively. 

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2022 Kia K5


The K5 rises in the safety rankings.

How safe is the Kia K5?

With dueling sets of crash-test results, the K5 earns a 8 for safety.

The IIHS dubs it a IIHS Top Safety Pick+. The LED headlights on GT and GT-Line models were dubbed “Good,” while other models have “Acceptable” headlights. The NHTSA, meanwhile, gives the K5 five stars overall, with a four-star rating for front passenger and overall front passenger protection. 

Every K5 has active lane control and automatic emergency braking. On higher trims it adds blind-spot monitors with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, and all-wheel drive. A head-up display and a surround-view camera system are options on the EX and GT.

With the K5, Kia has improved its active lane control to make it less obtrusive; it doesn’t boomerang around in its lane during driver-assist mode. We recommend the extra cameras and parking sensors, since the K5’s outward vision gets blocked to the rear by its roof pillars.

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2022 Kia K5


Big screens, big warranty—big value.

The K5 picks the right weapons to fight for attention in its mid-size class. It has an excellent warranty, good infotainment, and the necessary standard features. That makes it a great value, which makes it a 9 here.

The $24,685 K5 LX starts things off with cloth upholstery, power features, LED headlights, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. 

Which Kia K5 should I buy?

We’d press the “skip” button to get to the $25,685 K5 LXS, which gains keyless start, a split-folding rear seat, and blind-spot monitors. All-wheel drive costs $1,800.

The $27,0855 K5 GT-Line might tempt with its synthetic leather and cloth upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and 10-way power driver seat; navigation’s newly standard. Options range from a panoramic sunroof and wireless smartphone charging to adaptive cruise control and all-wheel drive. A 10.3-inch touchscreen can be fitted, too, but a note: it requires a wire to run Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The $29,585 EX adds remote start, synthetic leather upholstery and LED headlights, and can be fitted with a panoramic roof, power front seats with heating and cooling, Bose audio, adaptive cruise control, and a surround-view camera system.

How much is a fully loaded Kia K5?

The $32,085 K5 GT gets the 290-hp turbo-4 and a sport-tuned suspension, along with 19-inch wheels and sport seats. 

The K5 also comes with an excellent 5-year/60,000-mile warranty, tops in its class.

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2022 Kia K5

Fuel Economy

Despite the turbos, the K5 gets good gas mileage.

Is the Kia K5 good on gas?

It does well despite its turbocharged engines. The EPA pegs the base LX at 29 mpg highway, 38 highway, 32 combined; front-drive LXS, GT-Line, and EX models check in at 27/37/31 mpg. That’s good enough for a rating of 6 here.

With all-wheel drive, the K5 LXS and GT-Line drop to 25/33/28 mpg. The GT’s fuel economy checks in at 24/32/27 mpg.

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MSRP based on LX Automatic FWD
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Expert Rating
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Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 8
Features 9
Fuel Economy 6
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