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  • The Kia K5 GT is something of a mixed bag for $30K
  • Car and Driver takes issue with the way the K5 drives, citing a lack of traction
  • ThrottleHouse says the K5 GT still has its place in the world, and we think a stick will help keep it there

Two years ago, this sedan replaced the now-dead Kia Optima. And one thing’s for sure. It looks a hell of a lot better. More to the point, the Kia K5 has a lot going for it at any trim level. However, does a fully loaded 2022 Kia K5 still have “it” going? Or is this a bargain sedan sheep wearing the sports sedan shroud of a wolf?

A pair of 2022 Kia K5 GT sedans shot at sunset
The K5 GT is pure bargain performance | Kia

$31,090 gets you a fully loaded 2022 Kia K5 GT

On appearance, the 2022 Kia K5 GT’s $31,090 MSRP does have a lot going for it. First, as we mentioned there’s the looks. Aggressive, yet not quite in-your-face like some sports sedans. Unlike the K5 GT-Line, the full-fat GT is actually FWD, curious, but hey, there’s still a lot of great FWD sports sedans and hatches. Looking at you, Honda Civic Type R.

Things stay similarly optimistic when you look over a spec sheet. Power comes from a turbocharged four-cylinder making a huge 290 hp and 311 lb-ft. All that is mated to Hyundai/Kia’s 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. Plus, you’re also getting an uprated interior over the base K5, which includes things like GT-specific seats and some nicer materials.

Is the Kia K5 GT a real sports sedan?

“It feels like the kind of tuner car whwere someone went all-in on the engine and then ran out of money to do anything else.”

Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver

So, things look good for our fully loaded 2022 Kia K5 GT. However, the reviews are somewhat of a mixed bag. Car and Driver said the K5 GT “doesn’t feel like a sporty car. It feels like the kind of tuner car where someone went all-in on the engine and then ran out of money to do anything else.” However, they also pointed out the K5 GT is also a serious bargain.

ThrottleHouse had similar things to say. Thomas said that Kia “nailed the interior” but that their test unit was only $5,000 off from a 3.3L Kia Stinger GT, as specc’d. But, the current Stinger’s interior is a hair behind the updated one in the Kia K5 GT. However, they concluded that the K5 GT still has its place among bargain performance cars.

No manual transmission doesn’t stop the K5 GT

Red leather seats in the 2022 Kia K5 GT
Kia adds special GT splashes to the K5’s interior | Kia

Our big gripe with the K5 GT is rather predictable. At this price point, much of the competition offers a stick shift. That includes cars like the Golf GTI and Honda Civic Type R. But is the K5 GT a real sports sedan? Yes, if only just. That said, you have to compromise somewhere when you’re paying $30K for a sports sedan. Hopefully, 2022 will bring some more updates for the K5 and help it fully cement its place in the world.