Home  Car Chat Post


2021 Kia Model Year Changes



This near-luxury sedan dies as sedans are in decline and Hyundai corporate owners gather its luxury cars in the new Genesis brand.


2021 Kia Forte stock photo

Wireless phone charging, power sunroof, Navigation and Premium audio are now standard on EX. UVO Link is now offered, standard on EX and can automatically call for emergency services if an airbag deploys.

Blind-spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning are now standard on GT Turbo with automatic transmission.

Forte GT with manual transmission is equipped with Summer performance tires.


2021 Kia K5 GT 2.5T courtesy Kia Media

2021 Kia K5 courtesy Kia Media

The Optima is being redesigned, and Kia thinks it's such a thorough change that a new name is in order. In this case "K5" isn't a new name, just a new name for the United States market: Kia's used the K5 nameplate for the mid-size since 2005 in South Korea. It doesn't hurt that it makes people think about the K900, Kia's large, luxury sedan.

The major changes for the K5 include an all turbocharged engine lineup: a 1.6 turbo with 180 horsepower is standard; an all-new 2.5 turbo with 290 horsepower equips the new top-of-the-line K5 GT. All engines push through an eight-speed automatic; the GT's is a new dual-clutch. All-wheel drive is now offered, available with the 1.6T engine on LXS and GT-Line trims. LX models and only LX models get automatic start/stop.

Overall, the K5 has an almost two inch longer wheelbase and a wider track by almost an inch. Overall length is up by two inches, height is lowered almost an inch and the body width is the same. This is undoutedly a new chassis, one Kia claims is stronger, stiffer and safer. It is also undoutedly realtted to its cousin, the new Hyundai Sonata, even though it has a longer wheelbase. 

In the infotainment area, the K5 now offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and wireless inductive phone charging, so you don't have to plug your phone in. Unfortunately, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available with the navigation computer and the wireless charging is only available on GT-Line, EX and GT 2.5T. Remote start and climate control are now included with the Smart Key, standard on LXS, GT-Line, EX and GT 2.5T.

New safety features include Parking Collision Assist, which automatically brakes before you back into something, optional on EX and GT 2.5T. Kia is ramping up rear seat reminder technology, and the K5 has it standard. If you open the rear door at any time before ending a trip, the reminder comes on and beeps, so you don't forget your cheesecake, briefcase or baby in the back of a hot car.


This full-size luxury car was a copy of the older Genesis G80 and is now discontinued.


2021 Kia Niro stock photo

Standard rear occupant alert is a new feature. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone interface is now wireless.

Remote engine start is offered, standard on models with Smart Key hands-free keyless system.

Models with a navigation system now get 10-years worth of free map upgrades. Niros with Smart Cruise Control use the navigation system to alter speed based on the road, such as curves ahead.

The base model of the plug-in hybrid is now LXS.


2021 Rio S Sedan

2021 Kia Rio S Sedan courtesy Kia Media

The entry-level Kia gets a refreshening for 2021, including new front bumper, new front grille and lower air intakes.

A new 8-inch touchscreen entertainment system includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to integrate smartphone apps into the car. The still-standard rearview camera benefits from the larger display as well.

Automatic climate control is a new option, available on 5-Door and S Sedan. On the safety front, high beam assist, lane keeping assist, lane follow assist, driver attention warning and lane departure warning are all now optional on S models. Standard on all: Rerar Occupant Alert with Door Monitoring warns a driver to check the back seat if a rear door had previously been opened before or during a trip.


Kia Sedona

Mostly carry-over, but the base "L" model is discontinued. This is in effect an almost $3000 price increase, since the LX becomes the least expensive model at $31,420, including destination. Power seats are now standard on all models (previously not available on L).


2021 Kia Seltos at 2020 Chicago auto show

The Seltos is Kia's new entry-level SUV, below the Sportage (the Soul is not considered an SUV, mostly because it lacks an all-wheel drive option).


2021 Kia Sorento SX

2021 Kia Sorento SX via Kia Media

The Sorento is completely new for 2021, with a longer wheelbase, more maximum cargo space, new engines, new transmissions and a hybrid version.

The old 2.4 base engine is replaced with the new 2.5 corporate engine; increases of six horsepower and 3 pound-feet of torque are supplemented with better fuel economy: 24 city/29 highway for front-wheel drive models. The transmission moves from a 6-speed to an 8-speed. The optional 3.3 V6 is replaced with the new corporate 2.5 turbocharged 4-cylinder, shared with the new Genesis GV80. There are 9 fewer horsepower, but 59 pound-feet of additional torque should more than make up for it, and both measurements peak at much lower RPM, making the engine much more sprightly around town and helping with passing. The old-style automatic is replaced with a dual-clutch 8-speed for more effiecient, faster shifts. Fuel mileage jumps three MPG in both city and highway testing, now 22/29 on front-wheel drive.

The hybrid version uses a turbocharged 1.6 4-cylinder and a 270-volt battery pack. It isn't a plug-in, but fuel mileage jumps to 39 city and 35 highway. The hybrid version doesn't offer all-wheel drive and uses an older 6-speed transmission.

Though it has a longer wheelbase (110.8 vs. 109.4 inches), overall length is th same: 189 inches. Base curb weight is actually lower by almost 100 pounds, a big hint that this is truly a new design.



2021 Kia Soul stock photo

The Soul GT-Line Turbo's name is shortened: "Soul Turbo." Remote start is still available with UVO through a smart phone app, but EX and Turbo have remote start on the key fob as well.

Rear Occupant Alert has been added, standard across the line. If rear doors are ever opened before or during a trip, the alert warns you to check the rear seat when you turn the engine off and open the door.

The shocks are revised for better ride on X-Line and GT-Line.

Rain-sensing wipers are discontinued, leaving variable intermittent wipers as the only type.

Soul S now has a standard power driver's seat, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. 


2021 Kia Sportage stock photo

No changes.


2021 Kia Stinger

No changes.


The Nightfall Edition provides a dramatic blacked-out look for the grille and wheels.

Remote start is now integrated into the key fob, eliminating the second fob that used to carry only the remote start function.

The trailer tow wire harness is now 7-pin, incorporating braking function in addition to lights.

LED headlights, standard on SX, are also now available on EX with the Premium Package.


Contact Us