Don’t call it Optima anymore

You know this car. The Kia Optima, restyled cousin to the Hyundai Sonata, has soldiered along while its built a following of buyers who appreciate its honest capability and impressive array of creature comforts at an affordable price, with the added bonus of one of the most comprehensive warranties the modern auto industry offers. Since Kia doesn’t have the Godzilla-scale advertising footprint of some other automakers, the Optima doesn’t always automatically appear on some people’s shopping lists. That’s unfortunate, and Kia plans to do something about it, right now. The Optima is about to get a very serious makeover, but that’s not all. It’s getting a whole new identity. The new generation of this very capable midsize sedan is now going to be known as the Kia K5, and it’s got some attributes that we’re confident serious drivers are going to find very much to their liking.

Built alongside the Telluride SUV in West Point, Georgia, the 2021 Kia K5 will initially be offered in four trim levels when it goes on sale this summer, with a GT version coming in the fall. And it’s that last offering that’s the really big news here: The GT will get its urging from a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four producing 290 horsepower, and mated to a new eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transaxle. And for the first time, all-wheel-drive will be available across the K5 range. Kia says that with this driveline combination, the K5 will reach 60 MPH in 5.8 seconds. The car will ride on the same modular N3 platform that also underpins the Sonata and the upmarket Kia Stinger sedan, with a wheelbase of 112.2 inches. Three driver-selectable drive modes will be available, along with Apple and Android connectivity, a Bose Premium 12-speaker audio system, panoramic sunroof and a full suite of driver-assistance systems. We like what we see here.

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