South Korean automaker Kia first rolled out the K5 in 2000 under the Optima name. In the decades since then, Kia sales figures show it’s sold in the hundreds of thousands per year in the U.S. With a rebrand in the rearview, it’s now classified as a midsize family sedan, and Car and Driver note it has great value thanks to the options and lower pricing.
For the 2022 model year, the Kia K5 comes in five different trim options. Before we get experts to weigh in on which is best, here’s a breakdown of each option:
2022 Kia K5 LX (MSRP: $23,790)
According to Kia, the baseline model of the Kia K5, the LX, comes with a turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine pushing out 180 horsepower with a 32 combined mpg rating. Driver aids like traction and stability control, tire pressure monitoring, cruise control, four-wheel ABS, and emergency braking assist come standard. Inside, you can enjoy a six-speaker sound system and everyday basics like climate control, cloth seats, and a 12-volt DC power outlet.
2022 Kia K5 LXS (MSRP: $24,790-$26,590)
For a couple of thousand dollars more, the Kia K5 LXS trim gives you more color scheme options both for the exterior and interior. You also get a few extra perks, like additional USB charging outlets in the rear console, a smart key that remotely starts both the car and climate control, and a push-button start feature. Unlike the LX, you can get the LXS in all-wheel drive with “snow mode” and 18-inch wheels.
2022 Kia K5 GT-Line (MSRP: $26,190-$27,790)
The Kia K5 GT-Line trim brings a host of new exterior options, with a GT front grille, a rear spoiler, and 18-inch wheels all coming standard. The interior comes with lots of upgrades as well, such as the 8-inch touchscreen increasing to 10.25 inches, and the added features of satellite radio and navigation, a sport-shaped wheel wrapped in leather, and wireless phone charging.
The powertrain is the same as previous trims, with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the LXS. Additionally, the GT-Line comes with an all-wheel drive option for $1,600 that also has “snow mode” for traction and heated front seats. It’s no wonder that Edmunds tabs the GT-Line as the most popular trim level option for the 2022 Kia K5.
2022 Kia K5 EX (MSRP: $28,690)
The Kia K5 EX is much like the LX’s big brother. It’s the same engine with the same styling and slightly larger wheels (18 inches to the LX’s 16), with more options for colors both inside and outside, including wood trim accents. You’ll also enjoy a sunroof with the EX and a few driver aids – including parking distance warning – standard, with many optional extras, including safety exit assist and a surround-view monitor.
2022 Kia K5 GT (MSRP: $31,190)
The top-level trim for the Kia K5, the GT, gets a bit boost in power. The inline four-cylinder remains but bulks up to 2.5 liters, pushing out 290 horsepower and 311 lb-feet of torque. It takes similar styling from the GT-Line, such as the spoiler and grille, but sits on 19-inch alloy wheels instead of 18-inch options.
Inside, it’s a combination of the GT-Line and EX with standards like a panoramic sunroof and a sport-shaped, leather-wrapped steering wheel. You also get GT sport bolster front seats. Additionally, the suspension is sport-tuned for the Kia K5 GT, and drivers can enjoy steering-wheel paddle shifters, GT brake calipers, and an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Which K5 trim level is the best?
There are plenty of options to choose from with the Kia K5, and most critics agree on which one is the best. Motor Trend recommends the K5 GT-Line trim with its sporty exterior and option for all-wheel drive. They suggest adding the $1,600 premium package for all-wheel drive and perks like adaptive cruise control. Car and Driver makes a similar recommendation, suggesting springing the extra for the premium package perks. U.S. News is in line as well, noting the interior comforts like wireless charging and heated front seats.
However, Edmunds goes a different route. Its reviewers point you to the EX as the recommended trim, thanks to the luxury options like the panoramic sunroof, simulated leather upholstery, and climate control vents for rear passengers. A premium package does give you a lot of the perks of the GT-Line’s premium offerings, but with add-ons like a 12-speaker premium Bose sound system and a surround-view camera system.