Car Life Nation

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A red 2021 Kia K5 is driving around a corner past hills after leaving a Kia dealership.

Goodbye, Kia Optima: Hello, Kia K5

For the past 20 years, the Kia Optima has provided drivers with gorgeous styling at an affordable price point. With its 2021 redesign, Kia has rebranded the Optima as the K5, which boasts a dazzling exterior and a powerful, refined interior. While the popularity of sedans has dwindled in recent years, the arrival of the 2021 Kia K5 at Kia dealerships across the country may spark a resurgence in the segment after delivering a luxurious vehicle for a modest price.

Overall, the new K5 is a solid entry in the midsize sedan segment. With standout styling that includes an eye-catching shark nose grille and unique lightning bolt running lights, this car looks far more expensive than its $23,490 starting MSRP. With its new all-wheel drive option and its powerful GT trim, the Kia K5 has the performance to back up its good looks. Finally, the K5 comes with a comfortable interior and plenty of advanced technologies designed to keep you relaxed and safe on the road.

2021 Kia K5 Trim Levels

With many cars, the base trim level offers the bare minimum, so drivers have to choose between the options they want and the price point they can comfortably afford. Kia, on the other hand, has a long history of providing great options with even their base models, and it’s no different with the 2021 K5. The new Kia K5 offers five trim levels: LX, LSX, GT-Line, EX, and GT. While they are all comfortable, they each have their own niche and features.

A black 2021 Kia K5 is shown from the side driving past hills.


This is the affordable base trim of the K5, but it still comes with a vast array of appealing features. Inside this car, you will be welcomed with a standard 8-inch touch screen with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth wireless phone and audio streaming. Coupled with the standard six-speaker audio system and a pair of USB ports, the LX trim has everything you need to stay entertained on the road and competes with the mid-trim cars from many other manufacturers. Kia has also eliminated potential bickering over the temperature with the standard dual-zone automatic climate control. Adjust the system to your preferred temperature, and it returns to it automatically each time you start the car.

The K5 LX also comes standard with a full suite of advanced driver assistance technologies that include automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and automatic high beams. Together, these technologies will help you avoid many of the most common types of accidents, as well as make nighttime driving safer and less stressful. Mechanically, the car comes with a 1.6L turbocharged engine that produces 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. This is coupled with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission and makes 32 MPG combined.


The LXS has everything the LX offers, but it comes with a few extra features that enhance everything from comfort to safety. On the safety side, you will find blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert to improve your awareness of the traffic around you. The LXS also includes Kia’s unique Safe Exit Assist, which will alert your passengers if they attempt to exit the car in front of an approaching vehicle. With these additional systems, the K5 becomes even safer.

When it comes to convenience, the LXS trim brings a standard Smart Key system with keyless entry, push-button start, and even remote start for those particularly cold or hot days when you want to set the temperature in your car before climbing inside. Optional features include a power driver seat, heated front seats, SiriusXM satellite radio, and additional USB ports. While the base LX trim doesn’t lack much, the LXS trim fills in those gaps.


While it shares the same engine as the LX and LXS trims, the GT-Line has a sportier vibe and some performance-enhancing features. The most obvious of these upgrades is the move to large 18-inch alloy wheels with much wider Pirelli P-Zero tires to give you a better grip on the road. There is also a standard black rear spoiler to help with the airflow. Inside the cabin, you will also be reminded of the sportier nature of the GT-Line with the heated leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Among the other aesthetic upgrades, you will find a unique grille design, fog lights, and turn signals integrated into the side mirrors.

However, the GT-Line also comes with a wide variety of optional upgrades. Inside, these include an available 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation and voice recognition, a wireless phone charger, and SynTex seats. There is also an optional power sunroof that will allow you to let the sun in or gaze up at the stars (while your vehicle isn’t in motion, of course). Improved full LED headlights also provide a better view of the road in the dark. If you are looking for a fun and affordable car, the GT-Line will fit the bill.


Unlike the sporty GT-Line, the Kia K5 EX has a sleek, luxurious feel. While the GT-Line offers the panoramic sunroof as an option, it comes standard on the EX. Other standard features on the EX include heated and vented SynTex seats, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a wireless smartphone charger. Optional features include the 10.25-inch infotainment screen and a power-adjustable passenger seat. These features and options make the EX trim a great choice if you are looking for affordable comfort and luxury.


A blue 2021 Kia K5 GT is shown from the rear at sunset.

Not to be confused with the GT-Line, the GT is the true performance trim of the new Kia K5. Unlike the other four trims, the GT features a larger 2.5L turbocharged engine with an impressive 290 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. Further, this engine is paired with a quick-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that includes steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for rapid manual shifts. These powertrain upgrades give the GT excellent acceleration and a more engaging driving experience as well as allow it to be easily identified by the unique quad-tip exhaust.

Other features designed to enhance the sporty nature of the GT include a tighter steering rack for sharper turns, much larger disc brakes for shorter stopping distances, and large 19-inch alloy wheels with even wider tires than the GT-Line for maximum grip. Inside the cabin, you will also enjoy special sport bucket seats to keep you in place during spirited driving as well as the leather-wrapped sport steering wheel from the GT-Line.

However, the GT is not just a performance car, and it also offers all of the luxury features found in the EX trim of the new K5. These include everything from the standard panoramic sunroof to the wireless phone charger. Options such as the 10.25-inch infotainment screen and power passenger seat are also available on the GT. And of course, the GT includes all the advanced driver assistance features that set the Kia K5 apart from the competition.

A New Kia for a New Decade

As you can see, Kia remains committed to offering top-of-the-line features at an affordable price. With the new Kia K5, the company has also demonstrated that it is fully capable of building cars that can compete on performance as well as on features and technology. From the optional all-wheel drive system to the powerful GT trim, the 2021 Kia K5 is ready to propel Kia’s sedan lineup into the next decade.

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