High-Performance Version of a Midsize Sedan
When the K5 replaced the Optima in 2021, Kia’s intention was to disrupt the midsize sedan market. Built on an all-new platform, the K5 is wider, longer and lower than the Optima, more powerful, and takes design cues from the performance minded Kia Stinger. Clean Fleet Report earlier reviewed the 2021 K5 GT-Line AWD with the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine, coming away impressed with the styling and performance. So what does Kia do? They kick-up that performance with a more powerful engine which takes the K5 to an all new level of fun.
The 2022 Kia K5 GT is offered with one engine and transmission. The turbocharged 2.5L 4-cylinder puts out 290 horsepower (hp) and 311 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque, with an 8-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission driving the front wheels. All-wheel drive is only available with the base turbocharged 1.6L engine that has power ratings of 180 hp and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. There are four driver-selectable drive modes of Normal, Custom, Sport and Sport+ that adjust the engine, steering and transmission responses to maximize fuel economy or performance.
The EPA rates the 2022 K5 GT 2.5L at 24 mpg city/32 highway/27 combined while running on 87 octane. In 514 miles driving through Southern California we averaged 34.7 mpg. But over a 240-mile all-freeway run with the adaptive cruise control set at 65 mph, we averaged an impressive 37.5 mpg. Fuel economy numbers reported by Clean Fleet Report are non-scientific and represent the reviewer’s driving experience using the dash gauge computer. Your numbers may differ.
Hitting the Road
The K5 GT is not merely an appearance package, but comes with engine and transmission upgrades, paddle shifters, larger wheels and tires, and a sport-tuned suspension with monotube shocks. All of that equals spirited and agile driving around corners, but is also smooth on the highway. A 0-60 time, using Sport+, of 5.4 seconds was more than respectable, with good low-end torque that easily chirped the tires.
The electric power-assisted steering was quick and direct, with good road feel and response. The Pirelli PZero 245/40 all-season tires produced no tire slippage when pushed hard, and grip was excellent for straight and short stops with the ventilated front and rear solid disc brakes which were part of the ABS braking system.
The ride was stiff enough for spirited cornering, but not so much as to compromise the freeway ride. The K5 GT handled firm and flat in slow-to-medium tight cornering, with acceptable body roll when pushed hard. Having driven the all-wheel drive K5 GT-Line with the turbocharged 1.6L engine, we can only imagine what the K5 GT with the larger engine would handle like with AWD.
The K5 was an all-new model in 2021, with the head-turning design carrying over to 2022. The sleek look begins with Kia’s signature Tiger Nose front grille that presents an aggressive look, especially when turning-on the four beam LED projection headlights, and amber LED daytime running lights. The running lights also double as turn signals, with what Kia calls a “Heartbeat” design. LED fog lamps are found on the GT’s outer, lower fascia.
The K5 GT has a long hood, a short trunk and a low 5.3-inch ground clearance to go with crisp lines making a fastback profile. The K5 GT has unique 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels, with sharp-looking gloss black on the rear spoiler, heated outside mirrors, windshield molding, door pillars, rear bumper with a satin chrome skid plate, and a sport front bumper. The LED tail lights connect across the trunk by a distinctive dashed light pattern. The twin, chrome exhaust tips balance out the rear design. An attractive design element is the chrome strip that runs from the rear view mirrors, atop the doors, wrapping the K5 GT along the roof and over the deck lid. Clean Fleet Report’s K5 GT, was painted in a striking Sapphire Blue that looked great against the gloss black accents.
The cockpit layout is simple and clean with soft touch materials on the dash and door panels. Easy-to-read controls, such as the black gauges with white letters on a TFT (Thin Film Transitor liquid crystal display), are joined by the Bluetooth, audio and cruise controls on the multi-function, leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel. The GT badged heated, sport-designed flat bottomed steering wheel had satin chrome accents.
Our K5 GT interior in all-black had SynTex, a synthetic leather, sport design front seats featuring GT embroidery and red top stitching. A great-looking Chestnut Brown interior color scheme is also available. The front seats are heated and perforated with 10-way power adjustments for the driver, and six-way manual adjustments for the passenger. There is good thigh bolstering and, for the driver, the tilt and telescopic steering column made finding a comfortable position possible. The K5 GT can seat three adults in the 60/40 split folding rear seat. But for longer trips two adults would be more comfortable, taking advantage of the more-than-ample head and leg room and the fold down arm rest with cup holders. Access is easy through wide opening doors. Once inside, the power panoramic sunroof opened the indoors to the great outdoors.
Clean Fleet Report’s K5 GT came with a 10.25-inch touchscreen, housing Kia’s UVO telematics and navigation. The 12-speaker Bose Premium audio system, with tweeters and an external amplifier, came with SiriusXM (three-month trial subscription), AM/FM/HD/MP3 and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Connectivity was through USB ports, Bluetooth streaming audio, and hands-free telephone with wireless charging. The radio would have been more driver-safety friendly if it had a channel knob.
Safety and Convenience
The 2022 K5 comes with front, driver knee, seat-mounted, and full side curtain air bags, and the Drive Wise advanced driver assist systems (ADAS). Safety features included forward collision warning and avoidance, lane departure and driver attention warning, lane keep assist, blind spot collision avoidance, rear cross traffic collision and parking distance warning, and pedestrian forward collision avoidance.
The safety systems on Kia Drive Wise are not one package, but can range in features based on the Kia model. So it is important to discuss with a Kia sales representative what comes standard on the K5. Clean Fleet Report recommends getting the full slate of safety technology on your new car as this is not an area to try and save a few dollars.
Additional safety and convenience features include a dual-zone automatic climate system, acoustic front windshield, rear view camera, push button start/stop, remote keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring system, electronic stability control, and a compact spare.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2022 K5 five stars, and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) gave it a Top Safety Pick+, the highest overall safety ratings from both organizations.
Pricing and Warranties
The 2022 K5 sedan comes in seven trim levels. All are front-wheel drive unless noted. These base prices include the $995 destination charge.
LXS AWD $27,385
GT-Line AWD $28,685
The 2022 K5 comes with these warranties.
- Powertrain – 10 years/100,000 miles
- Basic – Five years/60,000 miles
- Roadside – Five years/60,000 miles
Observations: 2022 Kia K5 GT 2.5L
Auto manufacturers are slowly getting out of the midsize sedan business aiming their sights at crossovers, SUVs and trucks. The result may be fewer choices, but the sedans in your local dealer are very nice, with the 2022 Kia K5 GT 2.5L possibly being the poster child for how good they are.
The K5 is more than a replacement for the Optima, which had been Kia’s midsize sedan stalwart since 2000. The completely reimagined all-new K5 design and platform benefitted greatly from what Kia designers and engineers learned from the Stinger sports sedan, with the influence of design and handling clearly present.
The K5 has engine and transmission choices, front- and all-wheel drive. For style, performance, fuel economy, safety equipment and warranty, the 2022 Kia K5 GT is an excellent choice as an everyday commuter, or when seeking some cornering fun and extra performance.
Smallest to largest, Kia offers four sedans–the Rio, Forte, Stinger and K5. The K5 will appeal to buyers looking for something a bit larger than the Forte and a bit less expensive and sporty than the Stinger. In other words, Kia has the sedan market covered.
In January 2020, Kia announced it will be offering 11 electric vehicles by 2025, with the first new model, the EV6 hitting showrooms in January 2022. With the K5 being all-new in 2021, it is too early to speculate on the future of this model, but could it be one of those upcoming EVs?
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Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner and Kia.
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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