KIA K5 BUCKS THE TREND; GIVES LIFE
TO SHRINKING SEDAN SEGMENT
If the family sedan is a shrinking segment, at least the Kia K5 is evidence that reports of its impending doom may be premature.
Through June, the 2021 K5 five-passenger sedan remains the South Korean’s third-biggest seller behind only the less expensive Kia Forte economy car and its compact Sportage SUV, and the margin between the K5 and the Sportage for the first six months of the year is just a little over 2,000 vehicles.
The numbers: 62,159 for the Forte, 53,374 for the Sportage, 51,104 for the K5.
Consider that sales of the Kia Optima, the car the K5 replaced in the company’s lineup, were at 38,825 for the first half of 2020. It finished the year at 48,484, a drop of 50 percent from its 2019 numbers and less than what the K5 has posted for the first six months this year.
It’s easy to see why the K5 has proved to be a success. It looks very much like a premium-level sedan, and the inside is has a premium feel about it as well. It also is packed with all sorts of standard technological features that a high on the user-friendly scale.
It is not a sports sedan, but the 1.6-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that is standard in four of the five trims.provides enough acceleration for everyday commutes. Jacking it up to Sport mode gets more out of the 180 horsepower and 195 pound feet of torque. The top of the line GT trim has a 2.5L turbo that puts out 290 hp and 311 lb./ft., respectively.
In addition to GT, the K5 is offered in base LX, LSX, GT-Line, and EX trim. My review of the GT-Line is available in my December 2020 files. This review is based on the 2021 Kia K5 EX, which is very close to offering the same standard equipment as the GT-Line at a slightly less expensive starting MSRP.
The GT-Line with all-wheel drive starts $29,090. (not including the $965 destinatin and delivery fee). The FWD EX opens at $27,990. The base LX and LXS start at under $25,000 while the GT trim with its performance upgrades starts at under $31,000.
Both the EX and GT-Line include such features as an 8-inch touchscreen that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a power sunroof, rearview camera with guidelines, dual zone climate control, Smart key with push-button start and power trunk opener, steering wheel controls for Bluetooth, audio, and cruise control, remote start, power windows, and rear-seat occupant alert.
The GT-Line gets some extra design touches to give it a slightly sportier appearance, and Smart (i.e., adaptive) cruise control is in optional packages for both. Both the GT-Line and the EX get standard driver assist features like blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, lane-keeping and lane-following assist, and driver attention alert.
Both vehicles also alert you when a stopped vehicle ahead of you leaves the intersection via a “ping” and message that appears in the instrument panel. Front-wheel drive is standard on both the EX and GT-Line, and AWD is available on the GT-Line.
That is by definition a “well-equipped” vehicle.
Because of the $3,400 cost of the EX Premium package, the final bottom line for my test EX came to $32,355 to $31,300 for the GT-Line, a negligible difference in the overall scheme of things.
What I didn’t like about the 2021 Kia K5 EX: As user-friendly as the infotainment system is, I still would like a knob to use to surf the radio dial.
Would I buy the 2021 Kia K5 EX: Yes. It’s a tough call between the GT-Line trim and the EX, but the EX has a slightly lower starting price before the EX Premium Package is added on, and that package is worth the extra cost. The K5 EX is a very good value buy with many features not usually found in this price range.