Two of the most lauded and loved economy sedans go head to head in this competition featuring the Honda Accord vs the Kia K5.
For decades the Honda Accord has set the bar for all other economy-focused sedans on the market. It’s comfortable, reliable, well-priced, and even sporty when it needs to be. Over the last few years though, Kia has completely revamped its lineup and its standing with customers across the USA. Today, these two value-oriented sedans are neck and neck so we’re comparing the head to head to find out which is best. Honda Accord vs Kia K5, the battle is on.
For 2022, the Honda Accord starts at $27,615 and can cost as much as $40,000 when selecting the Touring trim with just an option or two. Among that pricing gap are a total of six trims with three different powertrains. The base engine is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder with 192-horsepower mated to a continuously variable transmission. Above that is a 2.0-liter hybrid engine with 212-horsepower which is only available on the base model, the Sport, EX-L, and Touring trims.
The top two trim levels use another 2.0-liter engine but this time it adds a turbocharger and makes 252-horsepower. Those turbocharged models use a 10-speed automatic transmission. Most models get around 33 MPG combined according to the EPA but it’s worth noting that the Hybrid can get up to 47. No matter which Accord you buy it’ll be front-wheel drive.
Kia doesn’t offer any sort of hybrid version but it does provide all-wheel-drive as an option for those that want it. Among five different trims of the Kia K5, all but the sportiest comes with a 180-horsepower four-cylinder engine that gets an EPA estimated 28 MPG in the city and 38 on the highway.
The GT trim uses a 290-horsepower turbocharged engine and gets 24 MPG in the city and 32 on the highway. Each one uses an eight-speed automatic though the GT gets a fantastic dual-clutch unit that can be controlled via paddle shifters. The K5 starts at $24,845 and maxes out at $32,245.
If we lined up every single trim level from both sides of this battle by their driving enjoyment there would be a Kia on each end. The lower-end trims of the K5 are the slowest of the bunch and while we vastly prefer their traditional eight-speed automatic over the CVT found in the majority of Accords, it’s not good enough to save the somewhat numb driving experience.
Of course, on the other end of the spectrum is the K5 GT which features the best powertrain out of the entire group. With nearly 300-horsepower on tap and a lightning-quick dual-clutch transmission, it’s sincerely fun to drive and will put a smile on the face of just about anyone behind the wheel.
Just behind the K5 GT is basically the entire Accord lineup. The punchy turbocharged drivetrain is fun to drive and has an outstanding balance on twisty roads. It’s not overly firm or soft either and while the 10-speed automatic isn’t as quick or engaging as the Kia’s dual-clutch, it’s still good overall.
The base drivetrain and the hybrid drivetrain in the Accord don’t benefit from the same power or real gears but what they lack there they make up for in outstanding ride quality and athletic handling prowess. Every single year the Accord seems to get better to drive and in 2022 that’s even more evident.
Even more impressive than its handling skills is the interior of the Honda Accord. Not only is it incredibly spacious, but it’s well-appointed no matter which trims level one might pick. Taller drivers might have a little trouble with getting comfortable in the driver’s seat but thanks to a bevy of adjustments we think most everyone will be able to find a good fit.
In addition, rear-seat space is plentiful. All seats in the cabin offer good support and cushioning too. If there are a couple of areas where Honda could improve the interior it’ll come down to noise and storage. It’s louder in the cabin than in the K5 and we’d like to see better storage options. At the same time, the Accord offers more cargo room in the trunk than any other sedan in this class.
The Kia K5 is even more impressive visually than the Accord. It looks more modern and features a design that mimics those of more expensive automotive segments. It doesn’t have as much headroom though and that’s especially evident in the rear seats. Despite that, we think that taller drivers will like the front buckets more than in the Honda. Average-sized folks will probably pick a favorite based on subjective preferences though as each car has its own qualities.
For example, we like the switchgear in the Kia over the Honda because of how much more precise and high-quality it feels during regular use. In the K5 you’ll find more interior storage but less cargo room in the trunk so pick your tradeoffs wisely. It’s also nice that Kia puts seat releases in the trunk itself so that you can fold the rear seatbacks down without having to get into the cabin itself.
Honda sells the Accord in six different trims starting out with the LX. It gets 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, cloth upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an 8-inch infotainment system with Android Auto as well as Apple CarPlay. Every Accord comes with Honda Sensing which is a complete suite of driver assistance technology including adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, and lane-keep assist.
The Sport is next in the trim hierarchy and comes with special interior and exterior trim as well as 19-inch wheels, paddle shifters, a rear spoiler, fog lights, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, eight speakers, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Above that is the EX-L with its sunroof, wireless charging pad, premium 10-speaker audio system, wireless Android and Apple connectivity, and auto-dimming rearview mirror. Honda also adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking sensors.
The first trim with the 2.0-liter turbo engine is the Sport 2.0T. It’s equipped just like the Sport SE but with a more powerful motor. It also adds a wireless charging pad, a sunroof, and a satellite radio.
At the top of the lineup is the Touring which can be had with either the turbocharged engine or the hybrid drivetrain. It also gets adaptive suspension, rain-sensing wipers, integrated navigation, a WiFi hotspot, ventilated front seats, and a heads-up display.
Kia’s base K5 is called the LX. It comes with 16-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, six speakers, LED headlights, and some advanced driver assistance features including lane-keep assist, driver attention warning, and forward collision mitigation.
The LXS is next and adds USB ports for the rear passengers, blind-spot monitoring, 60/40-split folding rear seats, remote start, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear passenger safe-exit alerts.
The GT-Line is the first sporty version of the K5 and gets 18-inch wheels, fog lights, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a wireless charging pad, a 10.25-inch infotainment system, and integrated navigation. Buyers can then add adaptive cruise control, ambient interior lighting, and a panoramic sunroof as a part of the GT-Line Premium Package.
The EX gets that sunroof as well as rear parking sensors, faux leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, and rear climate vents. Just like the GT-Line, a premium package is on offer with adaptive cruise, forward parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, and a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system.
At the top is the K5 GT with its big engine along with upgraded brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, and front sport seats. Add the GT-1 package for the same premium features from the EX Premium Package.
Those of you out there who love to drive will probably prefer the Kia K5 but for everyone else, the Honda Accord is the more well-rounded choice. Every Accord trim is well made and very balanced. The base trims have more power than every K5 aside from the GT and while we wish Honda would match Kia’s excellent warranty coverage, that’s not a big enough factor that we’d take the victory away from them here.