The 2022 Kia K5 is classified as a family sedan, but its exciting design and 290-hp engine option allude to something sexier. Sure, the sedan formerly known as the Kia Optima isn’t about to usurp its perennially excellent rival, the Honda Accord, but the K5’s roster of popular equipment and friendly pricing make it a strong value play. Every model enjoys standard active safety features and infotainment tech, and the sedan’s attractive interior is bolstered by a roomy back seat. The K5 GT gets the souped-up engine, and its tire-spinning antics will either draw or deter shoppers. The standard powertrain is largely inoffensive, and it’s also the only way to access all-wheel drive. Despite a driver’s seat that’s too high and ride isolation that’s negatively impacted by the biggest available wheel-and-tire combo, overall the 2022 K5 is an impressive sedan—whether it’s bought for a family or not.
What’s New for 2022?
For 2022, all K5 models are affixed with Kia’s new logo, and there is a smattering of newly standard features across the lineup. The front-drive LXS now has rear-seat USB charge ports. The GT-Line now offers a base all-wheel-drive trim, which essentially makes the system a $1600 option versus part of last year’s $3700 package. Most notably, the GT-Line and up now come standard with a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system instead of the previous 8.0-inch unit. All front-drive GT-Line models now have a wireless smartphone charger on the center console, too. The EX and GT both get a new 360-degree camera system, power-folding exterior mirrors, and front parking sensors.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
For those who don’t care about the extra firepower that comes with the GT’s 290-hp engine, the GT-Line has a satisfying mix of racy styling elements. That’s the one we’d recommend, and for those who want the all-weather traction of all-wheel drive, it’s available for an extra $1600. Otherwise every GT-Line comes standard with a sportier body kit, 18-inch wheels, a 10-way power driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and wireless smartphone charging. We’d also spring for the Premium package, which brings adaptive cruise control, advanced forward-collision warning, full LED headlights, a heated steering wheel, and a panoramic sunroof.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Most K5 models are motivated by a 180-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder that pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine comes standard with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is optional, but not on the GT model. The front-drive, 180-hp K5 we drove demonstrated decent acceleration around town, and our testing revealed a 7.0-second trip to 60 mph. However, it was less impressive at highway speeds, where it needed extra time to execute passes. Still, its dutiful transmission and well-insulated cabin helped ensure its engine noise rarely rose above a dull roar. The full-Monty GT model has a more powerful 2.5-liter turbo-four that generates 290 horses and 311 pound-feet of torque. Along with its exclusive eight-speed automatic (with the same wet dual-clutch as the Hyundai Sonata N Line), the sportiest K5 is also fitted with bigger brakes, a unique suspension tune, and wider tires on larger 19-inch rims. The GT we drove sprinted to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds and stopped from 70 mph in 163 feet. The Sonata N Line was slightly quicker to 60 mph (5.0 seconds) and stopped even shorter (152 feet). However, the hi-po Hyundai we tested wore optional summer tires (the Kia only comes with all-seasons) that contributed to its performance advantage.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates the 2022 K5 with the base four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive will earn up to 29 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Both those ratings take a big hit when all-wheel drive gets into the mix, dropping to 25 mpg city and 33 highway. Still, both figures are similar to the all-wheel-drive Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry. The front-drive-only, 290-hp K5 GT is the least efficient of the bunch at 24 mpg city and 32 highway. We evaluated a front-drive K5 with the standard powertrain on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test and it returned an impressive 43 mpg, beating its government rating by 5. The GT also overperformed, beating its rating by 4 with a result of 36 mpg. For more information about the K5’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the K5 looks amazing for how much it costs. The layout is both sophisticated and straightforward, and the cabin is appointed with attractive materials such as wood trim on the dash and doors. The K5 also offers an array of upscale interior features, such as ambient interior lighting on the dash and doors, heated and ventilated fronts seats, a panoramic sunroof, and a wireless charging pad. While the driver’s seat feels high even at its lowest point, the comfortable spot for your left foot and floor-hinged accelerator are nice touches. The back seat also provides generous legroom, and the trunk has plenty of space for luggage. We managed to fit seven carry-on suitcases back there.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The K5 comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that shares a bezel with the gauge cluster. The larger 10.3-inch touchscreen is standard starting on the GT-Line. Both systems have a volume knob as well as physical buttons on the steering wheel. While the smaller display offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, oddly, the larger screen does not and requires a corded connection. However, the upgraded unit does have customizable profiles and the ability to connect two Bluetooth devices at the same time. The K5 is also available with a 12-speaker Bose audio system for those who want the best auditory experience.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Kia’s family sedan also offers a variety of standard and optional driver-assistance technology. For more information about the K5’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Kia provides one of the best warranties, bar none. While it doesn’t include complimentary scheduled maintenance, its limited and powertrain coverage are the longest of any automaker besides its corporate sibling, Hyundai.
- Limited warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2021 Kia K5 GT
front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED
$35,835 (base price: $31,585)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, port and direct fuel injection
152 in3, 2497 cm3
290 hp @ 5800 rpm
311 lb-ft @ 1650 rpm
8-speed dual-clutch automatic
Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 13.6-in vented disc/12.8-in disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero All Season, 245/40R-19 94W M+S
Wheelbase: 112.2 in
Length: 193.1 in
Width: 73.2 in
Height: 56.9 in
Passenger volume: 102 ft3
Trunk volume: 16 ft3
Curb weight: 3581 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 5.2 sec
100 mph: 12.3 sec
130 mph: 22.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.5 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.8 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.8 sec
1/4 mile: 13.7 sec @ 106 mph
Top speed (C/D est): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 163 ft
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 24 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 27/24/32 mpg
c/d testing explained
More Features and Specs