2021 Kia K5 GT-Line AWD new car reviews

What makes this Kia K5 GT-Line any different than the one we previously reviewed? This one comes with the optional all-wheel-drive.

Besides power getting sent to all four wheels instead of just the fronts, this version of the K5 GT-Line is pretty much identical: 180 horsepower from a 1.6-liter, turbocharged inline-four backed by an eight-speed automatic.

Over the front-wheel-drive version, weight is up by 237 pounds, with fuel economy only down by 2 mpg combined.

However, to find out if having an all-wheel-drive setup improves the performance of the K5 GT-Line, read our driving impressions below.

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Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard

Our latest test vehicle was a stunning Wolf Gray Kia K5. This all-new, family-sized four-door is a replacement for the Kia Optima.

From the stunning styling to the cool color and the neat accents of the GT-Line package, we liked this car right off.

A quick look at the equipment list and the price tag, made us love this car even more. With a base price of $29,090 and only two options, the Wolf Gray paint at $445 and the GT-Line package at $800 the car listed for a very reasonable $30,335 (plus $965 shipping).

For this amount, some $10,000 below the average cost of a car today, this car was equipped with AWD, a sunroof, LED projection headlamps, a very nice stereo with Sirius/XM, heated seats and steering wheel, smart cruise control and all the other nannies you would ever need to keep you out of an accident.

The GT-Line package includes a distinctive red-accented interior package, navigation system and some unique exterior accents.

Under the hood, the K5 is equipped with a tiny 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission. While this engine only produces 180 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft of torque, this can is plenty quick enough for a family sedan. A 2.5-liter turbo-four is available as an option in the GT version of this car and offers more than 100 additional horsepower.

Kia has been nailing both the inside trim work and the exterior styling for at least a decade now. Their work here, as well as their build quality, have been world-class for a good long while, and rival anything built out of Japan and dare we say it, Europe as well.

What has let Kia down traditionally, though, has been their chassis and driveline components. The K5 is a step up in this department with a pleasant chassis with adequate, if not race car-level, suspension and brakes. The eight-speed transmission is certainly up to the task, too.

Our only real gripe with this car is the engine, which sounds more like an old VW Rabbit diesel more than a modern, direct injection, turbo-four from the likes of Honda, BMW or even Volkswagen.

And of course, the name, or number brings back memories of old Chevy Blazers and not a sleek, modern sedan. Why invest all that time and money to build a nameplate and then change it to a forgettable, mean-nothing series of letters and numbers like K5?

Still, overall, this is a very likable, fuel-efficient (26/34mpg), comfortable sedan that I could easily live with (especially with the larger, presumably smoother optional engine).

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View comments on the GRM forums
759NRNG (Forum Partidario)
759NRNG (Forum Partidario) UberDork
2/26/21 7:17 p.m.

What is the TQ #on the 2.5?

dj06482 (Forum Supporter)
dj06482 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/26/21 7:22 p.m.

I spoke with a lead tech at a Kia/Hyundai dealer and he said the turbocharged DI motors had been a disaster for them (ton of replacements, etc.). Has anyone here had a more direct line of sight to know if that's true or not?

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