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AutoFOCUS Test Drive: K5 Love

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

The Kia K5 GT takes the mid-size sedan segment to a new level. Now if you've seen some of our previous reviews you will know that the Kia K5 GT line was included in our autofocus world test drive video series on YouTube. But what you didn't know is the GT is yet another version of this dynamic and surprisingly impressive mid-size sedan that is probably one of the best designed cars in the segment.

The K5 replaces the former Optima, which was a solid vehicle since 2001. The Optima was also a good looking vehicle but the K5 is looks even better due to the minor touch ups and details that elevate its design quality. Why the name change? K5 to me is really cool. Yep I think of K5 being like a big mountain to climb you know the whole k designations from mountains so I really don't know where the name comes from but I can tell you that in a world where midsize sedans are dying at the expense of SUVs and trucks, it's refreshing to see this vehicle come on the market to help people get a second look. It looks more expensive than it is, but it's important to note that the GT is a serious contender in the mid-size sedan segment.

If you begin with the styling you might agree that the K5 is one of the best in the segment. The front grill is absolutely stunning even though it wraps around either side of the front fascia, those integrated designs, in black with the middle bumper, dynamic multi-level lower spoilers, mock air intakes on either side of the bottom and a sloping hood that adds to the aerodynamics of the vehicle. The whole lighting system in the front is a discussion within itself. Look at the front headlights and the whole area. You've got these zigzag line trimmings that are also your blinkers in the front. Yu can see it on the upper corners of the front outside the headlights. It's cool beyond description just look at it. Then you've got the multi LED lamps in the front that also give it a futuristic look. From the side view you can see that it is elegant and sleek. You notice it has a well developed demeanor with a sloped rear windshield that gives it an elongated appearance but also is there for aerodynamics which ultimately saves fuel. That subtle rear spoiler lip and attractive tail area makes for a nice shape and overall appearance.

Look at the back of the K5; pretty slick right? You can see something spectacular; which would be the tail lamps that literally run from one side of the back to the other. There's a line of red dash lights that also run from one side of the back to the other side. And when you actually turn on the blinkers you can see those dash lights put on a show. It also has a spirited rear design that rivals nearly everything in the segment. This is a stand out for sure and one that Kia K5 designers should be giving themselves high-fives about for the next few years. There's also the lift of the rear that makes it appear totally ready to get out on the starting blocks.


I need to share some of the finer qualities of the interior. In the image above, you can appreciate the layout of the driver and passenger area of the "cockpit". Starting with the driver area of course there's the steering wheel which has its control buttons at either side of the 9 and 3 position and the Kia badge right smack in the middle of this leather wrapped sports steering wheel. In front of that steering wheel are your driver gauges; two circular LED generated designs give you your mileage, as well as your tachometer and other reader information tightly bound in front of the steering wheel, easy to read and navigate. Of course the most dominant aspect of the dash is just right of the steering wheel, and that is the protruding, horizontal black gloss infotainment system that seems to grow right out of the dash moving from left to right. It transforms the dash area into a high-tech station that not only works well but looks awesome.

That infotainment system has a lot of cool areas to play with including an impressive screen with your optional buttons on the right and left. What caught my attention was how it's different from most infotainment systems in that the design and the functionality maybe the same but the look and style is different. Speaking of functionalities, one of the items that I found to be quite relaxing is a button that allows you to get various sounds, like the sounds of nature. Yeah I'm not kidding, we're talking sounds of rain, snow, well you'll get it. It's all soothing and gentle on the ears and calming for your spirit. I mean sitting in traffic stalled is a great time to hear some great soothing jazz or just listen to the rain fall or waves from the beach. Nice touch. Right in the middle of the dash you will find a wood divider that acts as a shelf and it's very classy. I've heard some other reviewers say that it wasn't overwhelming when they got inside but I disagree. I think the interior was as good as anything out there especially because of the infotainment system and the easy layout and design of the dash. Moving toward the center stack you have your climate controls near the middle where you can actually push buttons or turn knobs to get what you want. The radio is the same way, you can choose to turn the knobs or push buttons to get your entertainment the way you want it.

The driver seat is on the money as well. Its a deep seated sports bucket seats with lips on either side hugging you so when you take those turns, you still have support. The lumbar control mechanism is sweet, right in the middle of the seat for added back support. The headrests are adjustable to your liking and the controls on the lower left of the seat allows you to set it up perfectly.

There's a cool GT badging right at the top of the driver and passenger seat that gives it a premium feel. The leather seats feel classy and the sporty stitching runs down along the side forming an appealing trim to the seat design. Its comfortable, adjustable and roomy. I should know. At 6'3, its easy for me to feel cramped in a car, but not this time.

Note the image on the right. That's the middle area between the driver and passenger seat where you can store you drinks, charge your phone, and select the drive mode you prefer. You can also select the air- cool or heated mode for your seat.

Other key features that I want to mention in the front area is the storage spaces that you'll find in the doors which are designed to complement the front dash with the wood trim in the middle gloss around the handles and an extra lip to close that door. You'll also find above you a touch sensitive light that provides illumination easily. And then there's the controls that open the panoramic sunroof, or moonroof if you're moving around at night.

This is an element that cannot be underestimated or underappreciated. Regardless of the cost of a car anytime you add a sun or moonroof, you're winning. below the center stack radio area you'll find a place for storage as well as charger ports for your cell phones. The middle section between the passenger and driver seat is where you'll also find a charger area to drop your phone in and - voila there you go. It's ready to charge and just pull it out when you're at your destination.

These elements make this car much more valuable than the cost itself. Kia should expect good sales and we've had great reviews from the test drive we did with the K5G line so we expect the GT to be even better being that it has more horsepower, and a lot more get up and go.

Let's go to the back seat, it's roomy, clearly a family sedan. So the first thing I look for is a leg space which I had and I'm glad to report that to you. The second thing I look for is the headspace which I had as well. Thirdly am I comfortable sitting there. Yes I am comfortable sitting here in this vehicle in the backseat and of course right in front of me in the middle between the driver and passenger side is additional air vents which is really helpful when you're sitting in the back seat needing air or heat. Below that you've got some places to charge your phones which is good. In the middle of the seats you've got an armrest that also serves as a place to keep your cup holders. Everything's trimmed and aluminum, complimented by strong gloss black elements everywhere. The back doors have a lip like the front making it easier to close the door if you choose not to use the grip. One of the cool things about the back also is you get to enjoy the sunroof even in the back and the elongated tail windshield also adds to greater visibility.


Let's get into the drive, and the GT stands out among the others as well as standing out among others in the segment especially at the price point you're getting. The turbocharged GT cranking out 300 horsepower is absolutely fun to drive. Of course once you touch that acceleration, you are getting instant response and instant speed.

Immediate acceleration can be addictive. Its energizing when you're at a complete stop and need that boost to get into traffic. That turbo makes it happen but driving safely should always be paramount, so you have to pay attention to what you're doing and make sure that you are absolutely handling this car the way it deserves to be handled. That applies on the streets, on the highways, and in tight traffic. It's smooth and agile and lots of fun. I took it out on a figure eight to see how it handled and how it managed hard turns including its turning ratio and it's acceleration coming out of the eight. In my opinion it exceeded my expectations and suspect that it will exceed those of you who tested it. There is very little drive noise which I could hear but not be bothered by. On the open road it was stable and sturdy and held its own in multiple environments.


As you can see in the picture at right, I'm smitten with this car. I can't help it, so don't judge me. Just go drive it yourself at the nearest Kia Dealer. With a starting MSRP of about $30,590, and around 24 miles per gallon in the city and about 32 on the highway, the K5 GT is one of the best values out there on the market. Again there are other variations to choose from however we're focusing on the GT and this review, but there are others that we will share specifically with the GT line and the EX version. For more information just hit us up and let us know what your questions are or check out Kia's website. All in all the K5 is a pretty impressive family sedan with lots of sex appeal, a great price, upscale features and a pretty solid engine performing quite well for what you need.

Be sure to catch the AutoFOCUS world TEST DRIVE video show next week where we take the K5 GT out on a test run through Hollywood with a surprise influencer in the passenger seat giving feedback. For more AutoFOCUS Test drives, daily updates, test drives and reviews, Be sure to check out AutoFOCUS World on Youtube, Vimeo and on social media including Facebook, Twitter @Autofocusworld and Instagram.

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