CHATHAM, Mass. – To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the demise of the sedan are greatly exaggerated, at least as far as Kia is concerned, which introduced the K5 for 2021, a new, ground-up mid-size four-door.

The South Korean automaker, whose image and market position has soared on the backs of several recently introduced superb sport utility vehicles, decided it wanted to redefine its mid-size sedan rather than abandoning the segment, so it replaced the decade-old Optima with the new-for-2021 K5.

Offered in five trim levels and ranging from a decently equipped $23,590 LX to a 290-horsepower, comprehensively equipped GT at $30,590, we a sampled a well-equipped 2021 K5 GT-Line with GT-Line FWD (front-wheel drive) Premium Package priced at $27,435.

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All K5s feature a low-slung, aggressive sporting stance with Kia’s signature grill and display strong family ties to the larger, more powerful and even sportier Stinger sedan. Underneath the chiseled sheet metal is a new platform and a host of technology, including a long list of both standard and available advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS).

Kia Drive Wise makes increases confidence and safety

The Kia Drive Wise suite of ADAS for the K5 brings standard features like Forward Collision Warning; Forward Collision Avoidance Assist and Forward Collision Avoidance-Pedestrian. All these systems work together to detect vehicles, pedestrians and objects ahead of the K5 and then assist the driver in either avoiding or braking to mitigate or eliminate an incident.

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Also present, and something we luckily did not test, was Kia’s Forward Collision Avoidance Assist– Junction Turning feature. This ADAS helps the driver in braking to help prevent a collision or lessen the effects should one occur in certain conditions when turning left and an oncoming vehicle is approaching.

Our wolf gray GT-Line also had Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance; Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist; Lane Keep Assist; Automatic High Beams; Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go Assist; Lane Following Assist, and Driver Attention Warning.

Other safety systems included electronic stability control, tire-pressure monitoring system, dual front airbags and driver knee airbag, and front and rear seat-mounted airbags.

The technology showcase continues inside the K5

The K5 GT-Line might not have been the ultimate version of the K5, but its cabin was still filled with technological touches which enhanced the overall driving experience as well as the comfort for everyone onboard.

An eight-inch touchscreen provides the viewing display for the rearview camera as well as the center point for the infotainment system. WIRELESS Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are part of the system, which makes using these smartphone connections easy and convenient – a no brainer. This means navigation (Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, to name a few) are always available without having to remember to plug in a cable. And the wireless charger keeps your smartphone going regardless of your trip’s length. Wireless connectivity is not commonplace and Kia is moving it into the mass market ahead of its rivals.

As is the norm today, steering-wheel controls supplement those of the touchscreen for virtually all the key infotainment needs.

Controls for the dual-zone automatic climate-control system are straightforward, intuitive and easy to find as well as use.

The front seats are multi-adjustable with the driver’s having power assist (and a power-adjustable lumbar support), while the steering wheel has tilt/telescope adjustment.

2021 K5 GT-Line 1.6T FWD

If you want to let the sun shine in, just retract the power-assisted shade from the panoramic sunroof; popping it up increases the fresh air flowing through the K5’s interior.

All in, this is a roomy, comfortable place to take a ride.

Turbocharging for power and economy

Turbocharging has been a means for car makers to get more power (when needed for things like accelerating onto a highway or overtaking another vehicle) while employing a smaller, more economical engine for most functions. Kia builds on this engineering tradition with the turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder direct-injection engine standard in the K5.

According to Kia, the engine design included an industry first – Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) functionality. This technology results in a performance boost and improvement in efficiency thanks to independent control of the valve duration

The powerplant produces 180 horsepower and 195 pounds-feet of torque which is managed by an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission sending the power to the road through the front wheels.

The result of this technology is a car which performs well, offering power when you need it, and excellent fuel economy. The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the K5 GT-Line at 27 miles per gallon in city driving, 37 on the highway and 31 overall. Our experience was better – 38 miles per gallon during our time in the car, without any attempts to squeeze the lasts mile on a tank of gas. This was yet another area in which Kia impressed me.

Comfortable, roomy, solid performance, good road manners, quality materials, excellent fit and finish, efficient and economical, sporting and distinctive on the road and in your driveway – Kia has certainly committed to producing a mid-size sedan which belies any talk about the market segment being ignored by the  world’s auto companies.

SUVs and pickup trucks of all sizes might be the dominant forces in the consumer auto market, but there is still a significant number of folks who want a four-door sedan for its ease of parking, pulling into/out of a garage or its appearance. Kia has shown a competent mid-size sedan can be designed which provides strong value with distinctive styling and can be fun to drive.

The K5 GT-Line continues Kia’s march towards the top of the auto world in terms of products. Looking for a mid-size family sedan – the K5 belongs on your short list.

Next week TBR Drives a Ford F-Series XLT pickup truck

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