What’s New From Kia for 2021?

Gold 2021 Kia Seltos SX 2021 Kia Seltos SX | photo by Christian Lantry

There’s big news for Kia’s lineup this year, and SUVs are making the biggest splash. From the bottom of the lineup, Kia introduced a new subcompact SUV for 2021, the Seltos. Near the other end, the Sorento three-row SUV also got a significant update for 2021.  

Also of note is the 2021 K5 sedan, which replaces the Optima in the automaker’s lineup. The rest of the brand’s vehicles get less attention for 2021, but most models still see minor updates. 

Related: Why the 2021 Kia Seltos Is the Best Affordable Small SUV

Here’s everything we know about what’s new with Kia for the 2021 model year:

2021 Kia K5

Kia renamed its mid-size sedan for 2021 and gave it a thorough update. The Optima is now the K5, which is what it’s been called worldwide. The sedan gets new engines, as well as a long list of interior and technology updates. Most models get a 180-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder. Sport-oriented GT models use a 290-hp, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder. All-wheel drive is optional this year, a first for the Optima-turned-K5. 

On the tech front, the new K5 gets an available remote smart parking system, which allows the driver to move the car out of a front-and-back parking space.

2021 Kia Forte 

Kia’s compact Forte sedan gets additional standard features for 2021. The Forte EX, a higher-end offering, gets standard navigation, a premium audio system, wireless smartphone charging and a power moonroof. Blind spot collision warning and rear cross-traffic warning systems are standard on GT Turbo trims with the automatic transmission (this was already standard on manual models). 

2021 Kia Sedona 

Kia’s Sedona minivan carries over with no new changes or feature additions, but it loses some interior and exterior color options for 2021. A new version is expected for 2022. 

2021 Kia Seltos 

Kia added a new SUV to the lineup for 2021: The Seltos is roughly the same height and width as the Soul hatchback, but it’s nearly 7 inches longer. It’s 4.4 inches shorter than the Sportage compact SUV. 

In ascending order, LX, S, EX and SX trim levels are available, and all-wheel drive is standard on all but the S, which has standard front-wheel drive (AWD is a $1,500 option). Power comes from a 146-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission. The uplevel engine is a 175-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter engine mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic.

2021 Kia Sorento 

The smaller of Kia’s pair of three-row SUVs gets a big update for 2021. The Sorento rides a new platform and gets a major styling update. It also adds hybrid and plug-in-hybrid powertrains to the lineup, as well as more standard safety features and a rugged off-road version called the X-Line. 

Under the hood are a few choices. Base models use a 191-hp, 2.5-liter paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. A 281-hp, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder is also available and paired with a new eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic. Last year’s V-6 is gone. The hybrid gets power from a version of Kia’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder, which pairs with an electric motor for a total system output of 227 hp; it uses a six-speed automatic transmission. 

Inside, the Sorento has room for six or seven occupants across three rows. Second-row captain’s chairs are available, or you can get a bench seat that fits three; the third row has two seats and more space than before, thanks to the redesign. The interior gets a tech revamp, too, with the availability of Kia’s giant 10.25-inch touchscreen; without it, an 8-inch screen is standard. 

2021 Kia Sportage 

Kia’s compact Sportage SUV gets two newly available Nightfall Edition appearance packages for S trims that includes piano-black exterior trim, unique 18-inch alloy wheels and associated badges. All other trims — in ascending order the LX, EX and SX Turbo — carry over. 

2021 Kia Soul 

Kia’s boxy Soul hatchback gets more standard safety features, as well as some equipment shuffling, for 2021. The rear-occupant door alert is now standard. In feature updates, X-Line and GT-Line models get new shock valves for an improved ride; the keyfob for EX and Turbo trims now includes integrated remote start; and Turbo models get revised badges on the grille, steering wheel and liftgate. 

2021 Kia Stinger 

Kia’s performance sedan, the Stinger, gets one minor update for 2021: A red interior is now available on V-6 Panthera Gray models. 

2021 Kia Telluride 

Kia’s largest SUV was introduced for model-year 2020. For 2021 the Telluride gets some minor equipment upgrades. All trims now get a seven-pin trailer harness (up from a four-pin unit) as well as a remote start button on the keyfob. 

In ascending order, trim levels are the LX, S, EX and SX. For EX models, LED headlights join the EX Premium Package; a Nightfall Edition appearance package is available for EX and SX versions;, and Black Copper is a new exterior color this year for S and EX models. Lastly, Sangria is a new exterior color available for SX trims. 

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