Tested: 2021 Kia K5 GT Has Unfinished Business (2024)

Conventional wisdom says that 300 horsepower is about the practical limit for a front-wheel-drive car. It's all about basic physics: When a car accelerates, its weight shifts to the rear, and that's not ideal when the front tires are trying to drag the car around (and even less so if those tormented contact patches are also trying to cope with steering inputs). Certain front-drive cars manage to breach the 300-hp threshold and acceptably get away with it, and by "certain" we mean the Honda Civic Type R. The new 290-hp Kia K5 GT, on the other hand, is more like the 2006 Chevy Impala SS, which is another front-wheel-drive car that ran to 60 mph in less than six seconds and was less than poised doing so.

This problem is twofold. First, the Kia's turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four is a beast, generating 311 pound-feet of torque at only 1650 rpm. There's nary any lag between the moment your right foot goes down and the next thing that happens, which is usually an extended dialog between the traction-control system and the front tires concerning the dispiriting delta between wheel speed and vehicle speed. That is, unless you're in Sport Plus mode, which disables the traction control. Then you're just frying the tires. In the rain, you can find yourself casually generating massive wheelspin at 45 mph, just like you might in, say, a Mercedes-AMG SL65.

HIGHS: Strong acceleration, responsive dual-clutch transmission, solid value.

Tested: 2021 Kia K5 GT Has Unfinished Business (1)

Which brings us to the second part of the K5 GT conundrum, which is that Kia hasn't done anything in particular to help the car deploy its furious power. If the equation is 290 horsepower plus X equals forward progress, the K5 is chewing on its pencil, stumped. How about stickier tires? Or all-wheel drive? The K5 GT-Line—with 110 fewer horsepower than the GT—is available with all-wheel drive. Huh. Must be nice.

View Photos

Our K5 GT test car rode on 19-inch 245/40R-19 Pirelli P Zero All Season tires. We reckon that summer tires would knock a couple tenths of a second off the GT's 5.2-second 60-mph run. And we're pretty sure about that because the K5's mechanical doppelganger, the Hyundai Sonata N Line, hits that mark in 5.0 seconds flat on summer tires. Besides summer rubber, summer itself might help. In frigid Michigan February temperatures, our K5 GT's best straight-line runs happened after a drag-strip-style burnout session to warm up the tires and clean them off.

That went for the 5-to-60-mph runs, too. Normally, when a car's rolling-start time is really close to its 60-mph time, that signifies a responsive engine. Here, the K5's 5-to-60-mph time—just 5.5 seconds, 0.3 second slower than its standing-start sprint—merely demonstrates that the Kia is fighting ferocious wheelspin whether you launch from rest or a rolling start. But also, yes, it has a really responsive engine. You just need to look a little farther down the test results to find numbers that take traction out of the equation. For instance: 60 to 90 mph during its acceleration run requires just 4.9 seconds. Passing on two-lanes will not be a problem.

LOWS: Traction (lack thereof), does huge burnouts everywhere, deserves a summer-tire option.
View Photos

The K5 GT also gets an overachieving automatic transmission, a new eight-speed wet-dual-clutch unit that offers launch control and silky rev-matched downshifts. This is a case where the shift paddles on the steering wheel are actually useful rather than focus-group signifiers of sportiness. Compared to the lesser GT-Line—which uses a conventional torque-converter automatic—the GT also gets bigger brakes, quicker steering, and an ostensibly performance-oriented suspension tune. Its tires are slightly wider with skinnier sidewalls. But the K5 GT doesn't feel like a sporty car. It feels like the kind of tuner car where someone went all in on the engine and then ran out of money to do anything else.

View Photos

If the K5 GT isn't exactly well-rounded, it does deliver a whole lot of sneaky family-car speed for $31,585 to start. Our test car included the $4000 GT1 package, which gave it a 10.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, Bose audio, ventilated front seats (heated seats are standard), and a mess of other goodies. At the as-tested price of $35,835, the K5 GT is a good deal for a car this quick and luxurious. But it's also more expensive than another rapid sedan that we like a whole lot—Kia's own Stinger, which carries a base price of $34,135 in rear-wheel-drive GT-Line form. The base Stinger employs a 255-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four, and its 60-mph run (6.0 seconds) lags behind the K5 GT's time. But it's far more composed getting there, and the Stinger would likely walk away from the K5 on a challenging road. In the Kia showroom, $34K or so apparently buys you horsepower or handling but not both at the same time.

The K5 GT is a well-designed package, handsome inside and out. But it's not quite finished. Whether Kia gives it all-wheel drive or better tires, the GT needs more traction. Until then, roast 'em if you got 'em.

Tested: 2021 Kia K5 GT Has Unfinished Business (5)



2021 Kia K5 GT

front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

$35,835 (base price: $31,585)

turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, port and direct fuel injection
152 in3, 2497 cm3
290 hp @ 5800 rpm
311 lb-ft @ 1650 rpm

8-speed dual-clutch automatic

Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 13.6-in vented disc/12.8-in disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero All Season, 245/40R-19 94W M+S

Wheelbase: 112.2 in
Length: 193.1 in
Width: 73.2 in
Height: 56.9 in
Passenger volume: 102 ft3
Trunk volume: 16 ft3
Curb weight: 3581 lb

60 mph: 5.2 sec
100 mph: 12.3 sec
130 mph: 22.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.5 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.8 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.8 sec
1/4 mile: 13.7 sec @ 106 mph
Top speed (C/D est): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 163 ft
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.

Observed: 24 mpg

Combined/city/highway: 27/24/32 mpg

c/d testing explained

Tested: 2021 Kia K5 GT Has Unfinished Business (6)

Ezra Dyer

Senior Editor

Ezra Dyer is a Car and Driver senior editor and columnist. He's now based in North Carolina but still remembers how to turn right. He owns a 2009 GEM e4 and once drove 206 mph. Those facts are mutually exclusive.

Tested: 2021 Kia K5 GT Has Unfinished Business (2024)


What is the issue with the 2021 Kia K5 GT? ›

(Kia) is recalling certain 2021-2023 K5 vehicles. The side curtain air bags may have been installed incorrectly, causing them not to deploy properly in the event of a crash. Tip: Recalls don't affect every vehicle of the same year, make and model.

Is Kia K5 2021 a reliable car? ›

The 2021 Kia K5 has a predicted reliability score of 79 out of 100. A J.D. Power predicted reliability score of 91-100 is considered the Best, 81-90 is Great, 70-80 is Average and 0-69 is Fair and considered below average.

How much is a 2021 Kia K5 GT worth? ›

Used 2021 Kia K5 Pricing
Original MSRPKBB Fair Purchase Price (nat'l average)
LXS Sedan 4D$25,585$21,707
GT-Line Sedan 4D$26,485$21,627
EX Sedan 4D$29,085$25,776
GT Sedan 4D$31,585$24,387
1 more row

How much HP can a Kia K5 GT handle? ›

Treat yourself to enhanced power in the top-tier Kia K5 GT trim. You can leverage our current Kia K5 lease deals to get inside this muscular new FWD model, where you'll gain a fierce 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 290 horsepower and an impressive 311 pound-feet of torque.

What are the biggest problems with the Kia K5? ›

Owner Reported Trouble Spots
  • In-car Electronics. Infotainment system (audio, GPS, phone), rear entertainment system, backup or other camera/sensors, head-up display. ...
  • Engine Major. ...
  • Engine Electrical. ...
  • Electrical Accessories. ...
  • Drive System. ...
  • Brakes. ...
  • Steering And Suspension. ...
  • Climate System.

What is the recall on the Kia K5? ›

Kia has issued a recall for about 189,000 K5 sedans from model years 2021-2023 because their side curtain airbags may not deploy correctly in an accident.

Does Kia K5 hold its value? ›

When new, a typically-equipped KIA K5 sells for $30,201 on average. After 5 years of depreciation, the average residual value will be $24,735.

What are the cons of Kia K5? ›

Lows Driving position is a bit awkward, big-power K5 GT desperately needs a summer tire option, largest tire option degrades ride quality. Verdict A great looking, highly capable family sedan that looks more expensive than it is and gives you a lot for your money.

What are the recalls on the 2021 Kia K5? ›

3 Recalls for 2021 KIA K5
Recall DateComponent

Is a Kia K5 GT fast? ›

Top Speed of the K5

With the proper configuration and driving conditions, the K5 should max out at about 155 miles per hour.

How much should I pay for a 2021 Kia K5? ›

2021 Kia K5 Value - $14,758-$25,386 | Edmunds.

How long do Kia K5 GT last? ›

How many miles will K5 last? With the proper care from Kia-trained technicians the K5 can last between 200,000 to 250,000 miles.

Is Kia K5 GT reliable? ›

The 2024 Kia K5 has a predicted reliability score of 85 out of 100. A J.D. Power predicted reliability score of 91-100 is considered the Best, 81-90 is Great, 70-80 is Average and 0-69 is Fair and considered below average.

Which Kia K5 is the fastest? ›

The Kia K5 GT has a projected 155 mile per hour top speed. That's basically double the top speed limit seen on US highways, so you should never come across a moment when you're needing more pace on the highway. And considering it also has passengers in the back seat, that's also a feat.

What is the difference between the K5 and the K5 GT? ›

First, the GT trim, which is the highest trim level for the K5, and has a starting MSRP of $31,090, holds one major advantage over the rest of the K5 models and that is the mighty engine that powers it. While all of the other trims feature a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 180 horsepower and 195 lb. -ft.

Are there any recalls on the 2021 Kia K5 GT line AWD? ›

3 Recalls for 2021 KIA K5
Recall DateComponent

What is the most reliable year of the Kia K5? ›

The Kia K5 is a solid choice if you're hunting for a fierce and fast sedan. We recommend the 2021 or 2023 selection if you want the best, as they have proved the most reliable for customers.

Are Kia K5 expensive to fix? ›

The average annual repair cost for a Kia is $474, which means it has above average ownership costs.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Manual Maggio

Last Updated:

Views: 6172

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (49 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Manual Maggio

Birthday: 1998-01-20

Address: 359 Kelvin Stream, Lake Eldonview, MT 33517-1242

Phone: +577037762465

Job: Product Hospitality Supervisor

Hobby: Gardening, Web surfing, Video gaming, Amateur radio, Flag Football, Reading, Table tennis

Introduction: My name is Manual Maggio, I am a thankful, tender, adventurous, delightful, fantastic, proud, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.