Kia Kills Off Optima Name, Kicks Off K5 for 2021

As sedan sales sink and many automakers continue to abandon ship, others are finding new ways to inject life into the sputtering segment. Kia, for example, is trying a name change. Its Optima mid-size sedan is reimagined for 2021 as the K5, borrowing the name from the South Korean version of the car.

Related: 2021 Kia K5: Mr. Optima, I Presume?

Kia lifted the curtain on the new version of the K5 in late 2019 but was unclear about if that model would transition to the U.S. market. It turns out the K5 is coming here, Kia confirmed today, while also clarifying some U.S. specifications.


The 2021 K5 rides on an all-new platform and wears sweeping fastback styling that gives it a sportier and more dramatic look. It’s also longer, wider and lower than the previous Optima.

Engine and Transmission

Powering the U.S. version are a pair of turbocharged engines. LX, LXS, GT-Line and EX trims use a 180-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 195 pounds-feet of torque, a powertrain shared with the 2020 Hyundai Sonata. Sport-oriented GT versions will use a 290-hp, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 311 pounds-feet of torque. Both versions pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive will be available on LXS and GT-Line trims.

Interior and Tech

Inside, Kia says the cabin is trimmed with more upscale materials, and the design and layout are more driver focused. There’s an available 10.25-inch touchscreen next to the new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. An available 8-inch head-up display adds to the screen count.

Premium available features include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though Kia says the wireless component of the smartphone integration systems is only available with the smaller standard touchscreen. Other available features include wireless phone charging, the hands-free Smart Trunk and a premium 12-speaker Bose audio system.

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Safety and Driver Assist Features

As with many new Kia vehicles, there’s a bevy of standard safety features, such as lane keep assist, and forward collision warning and prevention with pedestrian detection. Also standard is a driver attention warning system and a rear occupant alert system. Optional safety systems include a blind spot collision avoidance system, rear cross-traffic assist, navigation-based adaptive cruise control and Kia’s Safe Exit Assist system; the latter warns the car’s occupants not to open the door if approaching traffic is detected and even locks the doors automatically if equipped with available power child locks.

Missing from this list is the Remote Smart Parking Assist system available on the Sonata, which can automatically move the car forward or backward out of a parking space using the smart key feature.

Kia says the new K5 is just the beginning and that its platform will underpin many future Kia vehicles. The K5 will go on sale in the summer starting with LX, LXS, GT-Line and EX trims. The GT model will follow in the fall.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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