Fresh, new redesigned exterior of the 2021 Kia Optima now renamed with the K5 nameplate

We expect some significant changes for the 2021 Kia Optima, including a new name for the American market called the K5. The K5 is a new name for the States, but a well-known name to foreign auto markets. With the new Kia Optima redesigned as the K5, there are several aspects to look at closer. We will look at the 2021 Kia K5 interior, performance specs, features, exterior design, and overall ratings.

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2021 Kia K5 (Optima) Release Date

The 2021 Kia Optima, otherwise known as the K5 car from Kia, is expected to go on sale later this year after Summer 2020. As of now, the production of the new Kia K5 appears to be on schedule without any significant delays. The all-new 2021 Kia K5 has been released and is now on sale in Colorado Springs at Phil Long Kia.

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2021 Kia K5 (Optima) Price

The 2021 Kia K5 will continue to be priced with a reasonable MSRP in the mid-$20,000s. The starting price for the 2021 Kia K5 is $23,490 while the most expensive K5 GT model starts at $30,490. 

2021 Kia K5 (Optima) Trims & Configurations

Rear exterior design of the all-new 2021 Kia K5 showing a complete redesign from the 2020 Kia Optima

At first, we had to look at the 2020 Kia Optima lineup to get a good idea of what trims to expect with the new K5 sedan. The previous Optima sedan is available in four trim levels: LX, S, EX, and SX. However, the new 2021 Kia K5 changes up the trim levels a bit and even adds an additional one. All trims will be available at launch except the top-of-the-line GT trim which becomes available a few months after in November 2020. The new 2021 K5 comes in the following 5 trim levels:

  • LX ($23,490)
  • LXS ($24,490)
  • GT-Line ($25,390)
  • EX ($27,990)
  • GT ($30,490)

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2021 Kia K5 (Optima) Performance Specs

A look under the hood of the upcoming 2021 Kia K5 (Optima) showing a powerful, fuel-efficient turbo GDI engine

The 2021 Kia Optima comes standard with a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder engine pushing out 180-hp with 195 lb-ft. of torque paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It might also come with an all-wheel-drive powertrain for the new model year. If you want something faster, consider upgrading to the 2021 Kia Optima GT model, which will have a more powerful engine under the hood. The 2021 K5 GT is powered by 2.5L turbo four-cylinder engine pushing out 290-hp with 311 lb-ft. of torque. Not to mention the special GT front/rear bumpers and a sport-tuned suspension.

Will the New 2021 Kia K5 (Optima) Finally Have AWD?

No need to question it any longer, the K5 (Optima) is finally getting AWD. If you have been waiting for all-wheel-drive, the Kia Optima redesign might give you what you need. For drivers in Colorado Springs, all-wheel-drive is essential, and the new K5 now offers the drivetrain you need to conquer Colorado terrain and weather conditions. The addition of AWD should immensely help Kia sell the K5 (Optima) sedan in mountainous areas where AWD vehicles are coveted.

2021 Kia K5 (Optima) MPG Ratings

The new 2021 Kia K5 is slated to be even more fuel-efficient than its predecessor. If it performs similarly to the 2020 Kia Optima, we would see fuel economy numbers around 24 city/32 highway mpg. Of course, the addition of all-wheel-drive should drop the fuel economy slightly. Original EPA estimates showed 27-29 city/37-38 highway/31-32 combined mpg ratings for the upcoming 2021 Kia K5. At a minimum, that's an impressive 11% increase in city fuel economy and almost a 13% increase in highway fuel economy. More concrete numbers are finally in for both the FWD/AWD models equipped with the standard 1.6L engine. A 2021 Kia K5 with front-wheel-drive will get 29 city/38 highway/32 combined which is right on par with original estimates. A 2021 Kia K5 with all-wheel-drive will see a fuel economy of 26 city/34 highway/29 combined. At present, the mpg ratings for the more robust 2.5L engine have not been released yet. We expect these mpg figures to release in the coming months prior to the November 2020 release date of the 2021 K5 GT.

Will There Be a 2021 Kia K5 (Optima) Hybrid?

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that the new 2021 Kia K5 will have a hybrid or plug-in hybrid variant like the previous Optima sedan. However, we do suspect that there will be a 2021 K5 hybrid powertrain in time, and possibly a 2021 K5 PHEV as well. For many years, the Kia Optima has had a hybrid and PHEV variant available. It would be strange for Kia to drop the dime all of a sudden and not bring that back. Before the Niro, the Optima hybrids were the most efficient models in the Kia lineup.

2021 Kia K5 (Optima) Interior Features & Design

2021 Kia K5 (Optima) interior design from the driver seat view showing major upgrades to the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, the infotainment touchscreen system, and center console area

The 2021 K5 (Optima) interior features plenty of space and style. There is wood trim in the doors and dash to add to the attractive appearance. You can also equip the vehicle with high-end luxury amenities, such as a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, ambient lighting, a panoramic sunroof, an air-purification system, and a wireless charging pad. While the standard technology includes a 10.3-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, you can also add a premium 12-speaker Bose stereo system.

2021 Kia K5 (Optima) Exterior Dimensions & Colors

The 2020 Kia Optima dimensions measure 191″ L x 73″ W x 58″ H, but expect some changes with the 2021 K5. The new K5 should be a tad bit wider, two inches longer, plus nearly an inch lower than the 2020 model. The new 2021 Kia K5 dimensions measure 193.1" L x 73.2" W x 56.9" H. The 112.2-inch wheelbase on the K5 is rated as one of the longest in the segment. The new K5 comes with 16-, 18-, or 19-inch wheels, plus your choice of 8 vibrant color options. The Kia K5 exterior colors include Glacial White Pearl, Passion Red Tint Coat, Everlasting Silver, Ebony Black, Gravity Gray, Crystal Beige, Wolf Gray, and Sapphire Blue. We had hoped to see the same 8 exterior color choices, especially the sleek Sangria paint, but 7 all-new colors debuted with the staple Ebony Black color to match the fresh new redesign and we're not disappointed in the slightest. The 8 colors offered on the 2020 Optima include Snow White Pearl, Sparkling Silver, Ebony Black, Titanium Silver, Sangria, Platinum Graphite, Horizon Blue, and Passion Red.

2021 Kia K5 (Optima) Redesign & Name Change

Front exterior comparison of the all-new 2021 Kia K5 vs. the 2020 Kia Optima

Rear exterior comparison of the all-new 2021 Kia K5 vs. the 2020 Kia Optima

The 2021 Kia K5, previously known as the Optima, is getting a fresh new look (both inside and out). In the exterior, you will see a more aggressive front-end design with zig-zag-esque LED headlights. At the rear, we see a complete change with sharper cuts and rugged lines. The taillights are now merged into one large strip across the trunk with a similar zig-zag design on the sides and a dotted line appearance across the middle. The circular exhaust pipes have been swapped for a slanted, rectangular design for a better fit and classier appeal.

Interior redesign of the all-new 2021 Kia K5 compared to the interior of the 2020 Kia Optima

On the inside, we see an entirely new dashboard with an extensive display seamlessly connecting the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel to the centered infotainment touch screen, which has a slight bend angled toward the driver. You'll notice that the center console area doesn't feel as crowded, and many of the interactive controls have been shifted down off the dash to the area where your right hand naturally sits. Furthermore, Kia replaced the standard gearstick for a dial option.

Screenshot from showing the replacement of the Optima with the K5 in the 2021 model selector * replaces Optima with K5 in 2021 selector.

The K5 nameplate has been used on the Optima in other markets, including South Korea. Now the automaker plans to bring the K5 model name to the United States with the latest Optima redesign. While this is a new name to consumers in our region, it's nothing new for Kia. The name change was not initially confirmed by Kia for the US market until late July 2020, but reported on the 2021 K5 model instead of listing the Optima (seen above) ahead of time. This finding lead us to believe the name change was real, especially since listed the Optima as the 2020 model and did not list the K5 at all.

2021 Kia K5 (Optima) Reviews & Ratings

We don't have safety ratings on the new 2021 Kia K5 yet but expect it to bode very well. However, we have heard plenty of hype about this new model from top-rated automotive publications. For example, Car and Driver boasts that this sedan features a "gorgeous outside and in, loads of luxury options and a smooth powertrain operation." Additionally, JD Power seems pleased that the new Optima will have all-wheel-drive and a "full roster of standard and available driving assistance technologies." Some of these available driver safety features include forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, plus lane-keeping assist.

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Phil Long Kia of Colorado Springs

1020 Motor City Drive
Directions Colorado Springs, CO 80905

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Photography Credits: NADA Guides | Car and Driver | Forbes | Motor1