Best & Worst Kia K5 Years

I've ranked all Kia K5 models into different categories so you can avoid picking the worst Kia K5 years and pick the best one.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll break down all Kia K5 models, highlighting the best Kia K5 model years to buy and the worst years to avoid.

Our analysis leans on meticulous research, incorporating feedback from owners, maintenance costs, safety ratings, and expert evaluations from reputable sources such as NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and J.D. Power.

We’ve sifted through the data to pinpoint which Kia K5 model years shine for reliability and which falter, providing a clear roadmap for your purchasing decisions.

Let’s jump right into it!

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Table of ContentsShow

Kia K5 Generations

The Kia K5, introduced in 2021, represents a significant rebranding and redesign of the former Optima, marking the onset of its 5th generation.

With its debut, the K5 brought a fresh and aggressive design, advanced safety features, and a range of efficient yet powerful engine options, setting new standards for the midsize sedan market.

Here, we present a table showcasing the Kia K5 generations from 2021 to the present:

5th generation2021-Present

This table is compiled to offer a comprehensive overview of the K5’s development, highlighting the pivotal changes and improvements across its generations, especially considering the significant advancements introduced with the latest model.

Kia K5 Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When assessing the Kia K5’s model years, our evaluation is grounded on many factors to ensure accuracy and reliability. These include:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

A forthcoming graph will compile all the combined ratings from the sources above, presenting a clear visual representation of the Kia K5’s performance over the years.

Kia K5 Car Smite Score (Combined Overall Score)

In the subsequent table, we’ve categorized all model years of the 5th generation Kia K5 as best, neutral, and worst based on our comprehensive analysis:

GenerationBest YearsWorst Years
5th generation2023

Neutral Years are not specified for the Kia K5’s 5th generation due to the clear distinction between the best and worst years based on our criteria.

Factors such as NHTSA recalls significantly influence these rankings, as a higher number of complaints and recalls typically denotes lower car reliability.

Let’s dive into the best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Kia K5 5th Generation (2021-Present)

Kia K5 (5st generation, 2021 model)
The 2021 Kia K5

The 5th generation of the Kia K5, introduced in 2021, heralds a more dynamic design, advanced technological integration, and a commitment to enhanced performance and safety.

2023 and 2024 are Kia K5’s best years to buy, while the worst years to avoid are 2021 and 2022.

The Best Years: 2023, 2024

The 2023 and 2024 Kia K5 models stand out as the best years in this generation. These models feature robust engine options, including a turbocharged 1.6L engine producing 180 hp and a more powerful 2.5L turbocharged engine delivering 290 hp.

They offer an 8-speed automatic transmission and an optional all-wheel-drive system, ensuring a blend of efficiency and performance.

The fuel economy is impressive, with an estimated 27 city/37 highway MPG for the 1.6L model.

These years also saw the introduction of higher trim levels with enhanced luxury and technology features, such as a larger infotainment display, wireless charging, advanced driver assistance systems, and improved interior materials.

These enhancements, combined with a comprehensive suite of safety features, including forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control, solidify these years as the best in this generation.

The Worst Years: 2021, 2022

Our research shows that 2021 and 2022 are the least reliable Kia K5 years to avoid, considering the number of recalls and complaints.

These models were plagued with electrical problems and transmission issues, such as glitches in the infotainment system and transmission slipping.

Despite their decent performance, these years were marred by several recalls, including concerns over improper side curtain airbag deployment, fuel leaks at pipe connections, and transmission oil pump malfunctions.

See NHTSA 2021, 2022 Kia K5 recalls and complaints.

Kia K5 Resale Values

Explore the graph showcasing the Kia K5’s average resale values over the years.

Kia K5 Average List Price


Which Kia K5 is the best?

After going through all the Kia K5 model years, the 2023 and 2024 models emerge as the best years to buy, blending performance, comfort, and reliability. Conversely, 2021 and 2022 models pose risks with reported issues and recalls.

For those considering a Kia K5, which features prioritize in your decision-making process?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.