Back in February, I reviewed the 2021 Kia K5 GT-Line, a car that, painted in the same Sapphire Blue, looks exactly like the 2021 Kia K5 GT.
Even the "GT" badges on the tail are the same. Sharp-eyed observers will notice exactly one difference between the two cars, apart from the license plate---the GT rides on 19-inch wheels, while the GT-Line is on 18s.
Beyond that, you have to open the hood to see the difference. The 2021 Kia K5 GT swaps out the 180-horsepower 1.6-liter turbo four with 195 pounds of torque for a 295-horsepower 2.5-liter turbo four making 311 pounds per foot of torque. Zero to 60 runs drop from seven seconds flat to 5.8. There's gobs of usable power in just about every part of the rev range.
EPA fuel economy estimate is 24 city/32 highway.
Why is this remarkable? Let's remember that the K5 is the replacement for the Optima---a car meant to compete with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Yes, if you opt for the Camry V6, you get comparable power (seven more horsepower, 44 fewer pounds per foot of torque), but you can't say the same about the Honda.
Plus---when you get the Kia K5 GT, instead of the GT-Line, you're also saying yes to the aforementioned 19-inch sport alloy wheels, GT brakes, an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters, sport-tuned suspension with quad-tipped exhaust, a panoramic sunroof with power sunshade, sport bucket seats, heated front seats, a wireless phone charger and rear vents.
All that's standard for the base price of $30,490.
Our tester also had the $4,000 GT1 Package (see window sticker below for details, a $95 cargo mat and $155 in carpeted floor mats, so with $965 inland freight and handling charges, the as-tested price of the 2021 Kia K5 GT is $35,705.
And that's a screaming deal for a screaming family sedan. Great acceleration, serious handling, strong braking, in a wrapper that says you're driving something special but also doesn't attract unwanted attention.
At their heart, all family sedans are compromises. All compromises should be this good.