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  • Writer's pictureMarc Gonzalez

2021 KIA K5 GT-Line AWD

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

The Korean brand Kia has been selling vehicles like hot cakes in the past few months. Telluride, Seltos, Sorento have been pulling all the strings to make the brand even more popular in North America. Now the midsize sedan K5 is not a new entry technically; it replaces the ageing Optima. And Kia, once again, showed the world that they could surpass their previous level. Moreover, this sedan is relatively inexpensive, with an MSRP of $35,995 on our test vehicle.

The first thing you can observe about this Kia is the aggressive styling of both the front and rear end. We liked the fact that it is less bland than the Optima it replaces. The bright yellow lights on the front are striking; many people glanced at the car because of them. They are shaped aggressively and enhance the overall look of the car. The bumper and the hood have more pronounced lines to emphasize the bold styling. In the back, we liked the dotted brake lights on the trunk. The car came with 18-inch black and silver wheels that stood out againts the vehicle's Wolf Grey colour. We feel that the K5 might be the best-looking vehicle of its segment and is a welcome addition to the automotive world.

Moving on to the interior, even though it is sober compared to the exterior, it is loaded with features. Heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel, wireless phone charger, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, the list goes on. It's not surprising as the Koreans have been adding optional equipment in their vehicles for almost a decade now, and it's a strong sales argument. We liked the wood trimming on the dashboard; it enhances the feeling of luxury inside the cabin. The leather seats are comfortable and more than adequate for road trips, whatever the duration. Legroom and headroom for rear passengers are ample, and the panoramic sunroof helps brighten the interior. The trunk is huge and practical for a small run to the supermarket or hauling the baby gear. Our only criticism would be that the ISOFIX ports aren't easy to reach. Otherwise, the K5 can easily be a family car.

Moving on to technology and this is where Kia shines the most. The list of gadgets available on the K5 is incredibly long but let's start in front. The adaptive cruise control is easy to activate and, most importantly, efficient. The system helps the driver without being fully self-driving. On the highway, it was smooth, and it could safely steer the car. In terms of infotainment system, our test vehicle was equipped with the new 10.25-inch touchscreen. The screen is crisp and responsive. However, we didn't like that not all the buttons on the system are physical buttons but rather touch-sensitive; it can be hard to grip them in winter.

The Bose sound system is adequate but nothing to rave about. We really liked that the climate controls are all physical buttons; they are so much easier to use with gloves on. Now on to the cluster, you will find a mix of analog and digital. The tachometer and speedometer are analog, a feature that we always like. Between those, the 4.2-inch LCD screen shows pertinent information like the tire pressure gauge and fuel consumption; it would be nice to have a larger screen in the future.

Let's close with the performance, and this is the Achille's heel of this overall good midsize sedan. Under the hood, you will find a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 180hp and 195 lb-ft. The engine is coupled with an 8-speed automatic transmission. On paper, it seems powerful enough, but in real life, it lacks a little bit of pep. When you want to overtake on the highway, there's a delay in response, which may be an annoyance. The vehicle feels wobbly around corners because its suspension isn't stiff enough; on the other hand, when the road is far from perfect, the K5's handle is exemplary and more comfortable than other vehicles. The presence of all-wheel drive gives a feeling of security in the winter. The brakes are adequate for this type of vehicle. The steering does lack a certain precision; however, it still manages to be engaging. Finally, we feel that the performance doesn't match the vehicle's looks; we are inclined to give KIA a pass since the rest is good. As for the fuel consumption, we averaged about 10.7L/100km in the city and about 7L/100km on the highway.

At the end of the day, the Kia K5 is a gorgeous vehicle, a striking difference from its predecessor, the Optima. KIA improved the vehicle outside and inside, and they did it admirably. Unfortunately, it's missing a hybrid powertrain to help lower fuel consumption in the city, the lack of easy-to-reach ISOFIX ports and the fact that the biggest engine can't be coupled with all-wheel drive are the main drawbacks. But we recommend this midsize sedan without the shadow of a doubt.

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