Having just test driven the 2021 Kia K5 EX earlier this year we were excited to sample the sportier GT-Line AWD which brought us a more sport performance oriented feel and character from the more luxury minded EX.

The K5 of course rolls into 2022 with few changes having been just redesigned for the 2021 model year, all-new from the ground up. The K5 GT-Line slots just below the EX and offers many of the sporting character assets of the top-end K5 GT 2.5 Turbo, but for a lot less money.

Priced at $31,300 with the extras of Wolf Gray paint and the GT-Line AWD Special Edition Package, our tester was indeed significantly different a driving experience than the EX we were familiar with even though it shares the same 1.6-liter turbocharged engine.

The GT-Line brings more aggressive styling seen in its lower front fascia with deeper skirt look and larger air inlets. At the rear too is a sportier look to the rear bumper that is handsome but we could do without the non-functioning fake exhaust tips. The look is handsome however and is completed with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels and performance tires.

The cabin of our tester impressed with bold red seat trim against the black backdrop of doors and dash. Sexy. The seating surfaces look and feel like leather but are actually vinyl which was a bit sticky on hotter days of our week with it. They were pretty comfortable I thought and plenty of room is provided both front and rear.

The dash design is cockpit like with two 10.3-inch display screens, one for the instrument cluster and the other for infotainment. While the audio system wasn’t the top-end it sounded decent and provided a nice built-in nature sounds feature for turning off the noise and zenning out while in traffic. Best feature ever.

Powering the K5 GT-Line is a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a smooth shifting automatic transmission. Its 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque provided brisk acceleration enough to earn the GT-Line label. I didn’t notice much of a power drain over the FWD EX model I tested as a result of adding AWD.

EPA fuel economy does however suffer over the FWD model with three less mpg at 34 highway, 26 city and and 29 mpg combined. In my week with it I achieved 27 mpg combined. One of the things I loved is its lack of the annoying idle start-stop system. Kia only sticks their base trim grade customers with it. Thank you Kia for at least letting us buy our way up from such drudgery.

Suspension is tuned on the stiffer end of the spectrum and thus offers up athletic reflexes when taking corners swiftly and making sudden moves. The addition of AWD does change up the feel of the chassis especially under power. A cool animated graphic can be found on the instrument cluster showing the real time traction distribution.

At is price of $31,300 I am pretty impressed with its level of value for the money given all the features, performance, style and panache it offers up. Yes the interior is cheap and plasticky, Yes it has vynil seats, but from the big picture view it’s highly competitive in the sedan class against its rivals some of which don’t offer some of what the K5 GT-Line has.