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Kia unveils new K5 in attempt to halt skidding sedan sales


Kia Motors isn’t giving up on the midsize sedan segment despite significant sales declines as U.S. consumers move away from passenger cars to crossovers.

The South Korean automaker Tuesday unveiled a new midsize sedan called the K5, which will replace the outgoing Optima when it arrives in U.S. dealerships this summer.

“Nearly a decade after the 2011 Kia Optima paved the way for one of the auto industry’s most significant growth and achievement stories, Kia Motors America is resetting expectations once again with the reveal of the all-new K5 mid-size sedan,” the company said in a release.

The 2021 K5 features more standard and available safety features, additional technology, and a new design with elements similar to Kia’s Stinger performance sedan.

The most noticeable exterior design changes include a new interpretation of Kia’s “tiger face” front, including a sleeker grille that flows into the headlights. The lights themselves include “heart beat” daytime running lights that extend to the side of the vehicle.

Inside the car is a redesigned interior, including an optional 10.25 inch infotainment touchscreen, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The systems mirror elements and functions of a consumer’s phone onto the vehicle’s screen without a cord.

The K5 is powered by a 1.6 liter turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine producing 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, managed by an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission.

A GT model with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque will be available in the fall, Kia said. All-wheel-drive versions of the car will be available in late 2020.

The K5 will be built at Kia’s plant in West Point, Georgia. Pricing for the car was not announced. The Optima currently starts at about $24,000.

After being introduced in 2010, the Optima quickly became the automaker’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. Sales surged to nearly 160,000 units in 2015. They’ve since rapidly declined 39.4% through 2019. Optima sales were off another 16% through the first five months of this year.

Kia’s overall sales last year were up 4.4% to more than 615,000 vehicles compared to 2018. Sales this year are down about 13% through May compared to the same time period in 2019.


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