Power upgrade on GT model gives performance boost to Kia's K5 sedan

By Paul Borden

(October 11, 2021) The 2021 Kia K5 GT isn’t billed as a “sports sedan,” but with a 290-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 314 pound-feet of torque it does a pretty good impersonation of one, especially when dialed into Sport mode for city environs.

The GT is the third version of the car that replaced the Optima in Kia’s lineup that I have had the pleasure of driving since last December, and I must say it just keeps getting better. Yes, it sits at the top of the price list for the K5, but not by much. Not including the optional GT1 Package of features, my test K5 came to $31,705 including the $985 destination and delivery charge.

That is roughly about $1,600 more than the K5 GT-Line model that comes with a 1.4-liter turbo-4 instead of the 2.5-liter 4-banger in the GT.

The optional GT1 Package is well worth the extra $4,000 if you can stretch your budget, stretching the final bottom line to $35,705.

Features in the package include a10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation (replacing the standard 8-inch screen), Bose premium sound, ventilated front seats, memory driver’s seat and power passenger seat with lumbar support, adaptable cruise control, rear parking assist, forward collision avoidance assist, and trial subscriptions to Kia’s UVO link (one-year) and Sirius-XM satellite radio (three months).

If you do much highway/city expressway driving, the adaptive cruise control (Kia calls is Smart) alone is worth the extra money.

Standard equipment included in the GT’s base MSRP ($30,490) includes the aforementioned 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, panoramic sunroof, dual zone automatic climate control, keyless entry and push-button start, power trunk release, power driver’s seat with lumbar support, leather-wrapped steering wheel (with controls for cruise, audio, and Bluetooth), and LED headlights, fog lights and taillights.

Safety features include blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, leading vehicle departure alert (never get honked at at an intersection again!) and an assortment of air bags that includes full length side bags. There’s also Driver Attention Warning system to keep you alert.

In addition GT features at no extra cost include an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission, 19-inch alloy sport wheels, sport-tuned suspension, quad dual exhaust, Syn-Tex covered sport seats, GT designed steering wheel with paddle shifters, heated front seats, and a wireless phone charger.

With its 2.5L engine, the GT is offered in front-wheel drive only. AWD is available only with the 1.6L engine. EPA fuel mileage numbers are 24 miles-per-gallon city, 32 highway, and 27 combined using regular octane fuel. Zero-to-60 mph is in the 5-second range.

All in all, the K5 is an alluring choice for those who haven’t given up on sedans just yet.

What I liked about the 2021 Kia K5 GT: The GT model has a little more moxie than the EX reviewed here in late July and GT-Line reviewed last December. The  GT Premium Package adds to a already plentiful list of standard features. The infotainment system is user friendly (with one exception noted below). All K5s have an exterior look of more expensive sedans and generous trunk capacity.

What I didn’t like about the 2021 Kia K5 GT: As user-friendly as the infotainment system is, I still would like a knob to use to surf the radio dial.

Would I buy the 2021 Kia K5 GT: Yes. It’s a tough call between the GT and EX and GT-Line trims. No matter the trim, the K5 is a very good buy with many features not usually found in this price range.