Kia’s affordable midsize sedan, the K5, is getting an update for 2025. Changes include a new engine, new cabin tech, and a love-it-or-hate-it lighting scheme you’ll instantly recognize when you see it. But the K5 keeps the long warranty and sporty character that sneak it into the top half of the midsize car class in our rankings.

More Powerful Base Engine

Since its 2019 redesign (when Kia changed its name from Optima), the K5 has been among the sportiest choices in family cars.

But the base engine in the current model — a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder putting out 180 horsepower — has never been more than adequate.

For 2025, adequate won’t do. Kia will instead put a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine in most models. It’s good for 191 horsepower, and its simplicity should comfort those who worry that a turbocharger just adds maintenance problems years down the line. Power goes to the front wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission, with all-wheel drive (AWD) available on the GT-Line trim.

The sporty GT model’s powertrain remains the same for 2025 — a 290-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder powerplant mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT).

Mike Tyson Face Tattoo Lights

The car’s shape stays mostly the same, but a new front fascia will earn lots of attention. Kia has embraced a “star map” lighting theme with its recent designs — lighting elements made of lines of LEDs joined at sharp angles. The K5 gets a long, dramatic shape in bright yellow that has divided the KBB editorial team.

Some see a dramatic shape that will help the car break through the noise and become recognizable. Others see Mike Tyson’s face tattoo or the headdress of a space villain in a Marvel movie.

Love it or hate it, you’ll notice it.

The interior of the 2025 Kia K5

Wireless Apple CarPlay, Over-the-Air Updates

Inside, the 12-inch driver’s instrument screen and 12.3-inch central touchscreen are available mounted in a “single-pane curved display.” It’s a look borrowed from luxury cars and sister company Hyundai’s EVs and lends the K5 an upscale feel. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard on every trim level.

“Kia’s new Connected Car Navigation Cockpit (‘ccNC’) system processes faster and in higher fidelity, with frequently used Quick Controls available with a swipe on the screen,” Kia says. The tech also allows over-the-air updates, which might save owners a trip to the dealership for upgrades and recall service.

Beneath, you’ll find a set of knobs that can be toggled between controlling the audio system or the HVAC system. Kia also uses that approach in its Niro, and our editors have found it frustrating. It’s easy to forget which setting the knobs are controlling and turn up the heat to hear a song better. Owners may get used to checking — but they’ll have to take their eyes off the road to do it.

It’s a minor complaint, though. The K5 keeps its most appealing feature — a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

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