Kia K5 vs. Kia Optima: Making a Great Sedan Even Better

The Kia K5 and the Kia Optima are both fantastic sedans. In fact, they are so similar that customers in the U.S. were somewhat confused about the release of the K5 and what that meant for the Optima.

In 2021 Kia announced that the Kia Optima would be discontinued. Instead, the Optima was replaced with the current Kia K5, which is Optima-Esque but utilizes the Kia name which is used in Korea. But is this all that is different about this car? Those who love the Optima are worried their favorite sedan might be changed forever. And that is true. While the Kia K5 is the next rendition of the Optima, there have been some noticeable changes and innovations. Will the K5 live up to Optima’s U.S. legacy?


As one of the most popular sedans in America, the Optima has done especially well for Kia. Is this decision to discontinue the Optima and replace it with the K5 the right decision? Keep reading to find out.

The Kia Optima Was Good…

One of the reasons this switch is so significant is that there was nothing wrong with the Kia Optima. Owners adored their Optimas. The Kia Optima is the optimal commuter car with a peppy powertrain and a long list of popular features. With stellar gas mileage, a steady drive, and low maintenance, the Kia Optima was as good as it gets for midsize sedans. So why make the switch?

But the K5 is Better

Kia made the switch because, well, the K5 is just better. Some will say the K5 is essentially just the Kia Optima but with a different name, but that is not true. The K5 has made some important changes and improvements, some of which make this car better than the already beloved Optima. The bottom line, the K5 is better. Let’s move on.


The standard Kia K5 has a 1.6 L 4-cylinder, 2.5 L 4-cylinder engine under the hood, which is not that different from the Optima’s. The Kia Optima has more horsepower than the K5. The Optima gets 185 hp, while the K5 gets 180 hp. Does that make the Optima’s engine better? Not by a long shot. This change allows for the Kia K5 to get better mileage overall. While the Optima gets a combined 29 mpg, the K5 gets a combined 32 mpg.

If you are looking for speed, the Kia K5 is much better than the Optima. Taking a look at both turbo-charged options from both sedans, the K5 outputs 290 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque, while the Optima only outputs 245 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.

In terms of size, the K5 is slightly bigger than its predecessor. It’s bigger, faster, has better technology, has optional AWD, and overall is more exciting. I think it’s safe to say that the K5 won and that it was a good decision for Kia to make the switch.

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