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Kelley Blue Book: The superb, sharply-styled 2022 Kia K5 builds a winning case for the midsize sedan

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Pros

Sharp styling

Reasonable pricing

Good fuel economy

Cons

Panoramic sunroof reduces headroom

Powerful GT model is front-drive only

No hybrid variant

What’s new?

New GT-Line AWD version

Some reshuffling of standard features across the trims

GT-Line models gain more tech features

LXS gains a couple of rear USB ports

Price: The 2022 Kia K5 starts at $23,790.

The 2022 Kia K5 midsize sedan enters the second year of its existence. It replaced the Optima last year, giving Kia
000270,
+2.51%

 the opportunity to effect a name change as well, since K5 was the name of its midsize sedan in other parts of the world.

This new K5 builds on all the good points that made the Optima an excellent choice. Pricing and equipment levels are all compelling, the driving experience goes from pleasant to peppery, and fuel economy is more than bearable. The K5 makes a bigger visual splash, though.

Anyone reading this who is a newcomer to the planet, first, welcome. Second, you probably couldn’t help noticing that many forms of human transportation are of the SUV/crossover type — high-riding vehicles that block the vision of everyone behind them, and possibly with all-wheel drive. These things are extremely popular at the moment, replacing midsize sedans on the driveways of many suburban houses. Some car companies have stopped making sedans entirely. Others are offering fewer choices. There’s no Mazda6 this year, for example.

However, although the pool is shrinking, the competition remains strong. Buyers seeking a midsize sedan are still valued, wooed, and pursued. As the superb Kia K5 demonstrates.

The 2022 Kia K5

Kia

2022 Kia K5 pricing

The most affordable 2022 Kia K5 is the LX version, which comes solely with front-wheel drive. It has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $23,790, plus a destination charge.

By spending another $1,000, buyers can get into LXS trim, which brings the option of all-wheel drive for $1,800 as well as more standard equipment. Up at the top of the range is the GT model, another front-drive-only K5 (not to be confused with the GT-Line trim), coming in at $31,190.

For comparison, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry both start at around $25K, the closely related Hyundai
HYMTF,
-2.17%

Sonata is about $24K, and the Nissan
NSANY,
-1.27%

Altima is somewhere in between.

Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid for their new K5. Honda
HMC,
-0.99%

and Toyota
TM,
-0.28%

are the traditional resale value kings, but the K5 is still expected to do pretty well in this respect.

Driving the 2022 Kia K5

The 290-horsepower elephant in the garage is the GT version of the 2022 K5. As well as its own engine, the GT comes with a model-specific steering system, paddle shifters (allowing the driver to get involved with some manual gear shifting whenever the urge arises), and a sport-tuned suspension.

Kia hasn’t quoted any standstill to 60 mph times, but we reckon the GT is capable of doing that sprint in less than six seconds. The rest of the range, with a 180-horsepower engine, requires about seven seconds. These times aren’t especially spine-tingling, but the GT has the right attributes, in general, to qualify as a sport sedan.

We would have preferred to have seen the GT with an all-wheel-drive system, though. All that power going through just the front wheels is asking for squealing tires and becoming over-familiar with the traction control warning light. If all four wheels were driven, there would have been better grip.

Also see: 10 top hybrids for less than $30,000

Most buyers of the 2022 K5, however, will no doubt be looking at something with a smaller engine. This produces an acceptable amount of punch. And with maximum torque coming in at a low 1,500 rpm, the muscle is accessible and usable.

Overall, the ride quality is comfortable and well-controlled, although the larger wheel/tire combination and sport suspension of the GT make things firmer. The steering actually has some feel to it, and the cabin remains relatively quiet at freeway speeds. And although the GT’s transmission is good for quick gear changes, the regular transmission in the rest of the range creates no cause for complaint.

Interior comfort

More cars, upscale models in particular, are moving away from button-festooned dashboards. The 2022 K5 is one of them. Some controls are on the steering wheel, and others are accessed through the infotainment screen. It all adds up to a tidy cabin that looks more expensive than it is.

The GT-Line and GT models underline their sportiness in the higher trims with things like a black headliner and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. The EX goes for wood-effect trim to help create a more luxurious atmosphere.

Rear legroom of 35.2 inches isn’t that great. The Honda Accord offers 40.4 inches, and the Toyota Camry comes with 38 inches. The K5 does have a contoured ceiling to maximize rear headroom, however. And a trunk size of 16 cubic feet is pretty good.

Check out: The 10 best cars for new college grads

Exterior styling

While acknowledging that everyone has their own idea of what makes a sight for sore eyes or what sight makes eyes sore, we’d venture that the 2022 K5 at least looks intriguing. Along with the Hyundai Sonata (the K5’s sister car), it seems as if Korea is producing bolder and more memorable designs than the Japanese competition. Especially now that we’ve lost the wonderful Mazda6.

The lower two trims have 16-inch alloy wheels, the GT-Line and EX wear 18-inch alloys, and the GT brings 19-inch alloys. The only premium paint color offered across the range is Glacial White Pearl; Wolf Gray is available on the GT-Line and GT models.

Favorite features

All-wheel drive
Midsize sedans with all-wheel drive are rare outside of the luxury realm. The Subaru Legacy has it as standard, but it’s a welcome inclusion on the K5’s options list.

K5 GT
Sorry to be predictable and single out the enthusiast’s choice. The Stinger is Kia’s ultimate performance 4-door, but the 2022 K5 GT’s engine, suspension, and interior bring plenty of sport sedan attitude. And the GT is $5k cheaper.

Standard features

The front-drive LX version of the 2022 K5 comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights/daytime running lights, heated side mirrors, cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, selectable driving modes, manually adjustable front seats, and fixed rear seats.

Safety features include forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, automatic high beams, and a rear-occupant alert.

The infotainment system has an 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, HD radio, two USB ports, and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration.

We recommend stretching at least to the next-up LXS trim to gain blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, Safe Exit Assist, keyless entry/ignition, remote start/climate settings, two USB ports for the rear passengers, and 60/40 split/folding rear seats. Plus the option of choosing all-wheel drive, which also adds a Snow setting to the driving modes, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Factory options

Except for all-wheel drive, the EX has those little extras, adding a panoramic sunroof, LED cabin lighting, heated/ventilated front seats (the driver’s seat is also 10-way power-adjustable), simulated leather seating surfaces, satellite radio, and rear parking sensors.

The infotainment system gains a 10.25-inch touchscreen, navigation, and wireless charging. This setup isn’t compatible with wireless smartphone integration, though, so it’s back to using the cable for Apple
AAPL,
-0.53%

CarPlay/Android Auto.

GT-Line models have a sportier attitude than the luxury-leaning EX. They feature a flat-bottomed steering wheel, cloth/simulated leather upholstery, LED fog lights/taillights, black-finished alloy wheels, and a gloss black rear spoiler. They still pack the extra tech as well. All-wheel drive with a GT-Line also adds heated front seats.

With the bigger engine, the real GT is enhanced by a sport-tuned suspension, beefed-up brakes, sport front seats (heated), panoramic sunroof, black-finished 19-inch alloy wheels, Sport+ driving mode, and a quad exhaust system.

The LXS and GT-Line models are the only ones eligible for all-wheel drive. The EX and GT-Line cars also qualify for trim-specific Premium packages that add safety features like adaptive cruise control with stop/go, partial self-driving, and some items that are standard — and optional — in the GT.

A GT1 package is offered with the 2022 K5 GT that includes driver’s-seat/side-mirror memory settings, 10-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated steering wheel, advanced driver aids, reverse emergency braking, 360-degree camera system, front parking sensors, and a 12-speaker Bose audio system.

A few options apply to the base LX, such as premium paint and remote start.

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Engine and transmission

The main engine for the 2022 K5 lineup is a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder unit developing 180 horsepower. It connects to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard. All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional.

The top GT model pushes the envelop a little more with a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 290 horsepower. The transmission here is an 8-speed dual-clutch automated unit. It can be operated like a regular transmission, but its shift actions are quicker than the other auto ’box. Front-wheel drive is the sole arrangement here.

Also see: 12 hybrids and gas cars that get the best mileage

Regular gasoline is fine with either engine, even though both employ a turbocharger. The LX achieves the best fuel economy, thanks to its engine stop/restart function; no other 2022 K5 engine has it.

1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4
180 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
195 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29/38 mpg (LX only), 27/37 mpg (FWD), 25/33 mpg (AWD)

2.5-liter turbocharged inline-4 (GT)
290 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
311 lb-ft of torque @ 1,650-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/32 mpg

This story originally ran on KBB.com. 

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