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KIA K5: An Honest Review

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Kia has earned its reputation for well-designed cars. The company has been consistent with winning awards since 2013 with a focus on design. This year they don’t disappoint with a sporty-looking sedan for anyone who loves classy with a side of edgy. Peter Schreyer’s takeover in their design department definitely did some good for the ol’ family sedan car.

The car comes in two engine variants, with the more powerful GT version kicking at 290 hp. It’s more than enough to compete with, say, a Toyota Camry V-6. The 2.5 liter capacity allows for hours of worry-free driving and the AWD provides road safety and significant traction which is ideal for wet roads. The first variant comes equipped with a lower 180hp 1.6L four cylinder engine but it’s not that far off to the GT variant when it comes to fuel economy. The K5 has a lower engine displacement so it’s relatively light in comparison to other car brands, even when comparing higher trims. This is how the manufacturers offset the power consumption for the AWD present in the sedan. What needs to be said is that K5’s engine is not enough to beat Honda Accord although the Kia sedan is good enough for in-city and highway commute. The website does say the GT variant outperforms the BMW 330i but it’s up to the buyers to think if this is some marketing stint.

Brand-loyalists will see quite an experiment on top of the signature tiger-nose grill. In addition to fake exhausts, KIA took it further with “lightning bolt” accents. Harry Potter-esque if you ask us, but any design choice becomes a make-it or break-it scenario, as evidenced by mixed responses from our very own judges. Testing Director Kim Reynolds said something along the lines of it being “extraterrestrial”-ish. The company took inspiration from Kia Stinger and tried to mold it in a family sedan so we understand the testing director. The design looks impressive from the top and front.

At first glance, this car looks like the design team invested more into making the face different just to stay relevant in the sedan competition but a quick trip to the rear will show there’s love in the minor details – the taillights are connected and highlighted with a LED strip, in addition to featuring dual exhausts, although there are models that have the quad exhaust variety.

It further redeems itself with a more comfortable interior: faux-wood finish for the trims, an optional auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic climate control, the front seats have heating and ventilation, and although the cabin is not (at best, almost) as spacious as the Sonata has it owing to the fact that the roof slopes gently downward to the hood for that sports car-feels, the K5 is a 5-seater and the additional 10.3 interactive display on the dashboard makes for a truly convenient in-car experience. As for storage, the trunk’s capacity allows for up to 16 cubic feet to fit all those toys the kids will bring.

It’s 2021 and people think more cars should have significant tech upgrades so the K5 also has an integrated adaptive cruise-control system and this only enforces that this is a safe-to-drive car. Thank technology for AWD.

The company also offers a 60-month warranty, and we think we know why. There were recalls for the Optima series for engine failure and hopefully, this extended warranty is indicative of better quality checks.

In comparison to Hyundai Sonata N-Line, the car does have its fallbacks. It doesn’t have Smart Park tech, to which the former made its debut in a funny Superbowl commercial featuring the likes of Captain America actor Chris Evans and actor-director John Krazinski. It also lacks a smartphone-enabled car locking feature that Hyundai added to the Sonata.

In essence, this is Kia’s answer to Hyundai’s Sonata. But how does it compare to other manufacturers? It actually doesn’t have to, because this car is priced at $32,335. Consumers will save more than a thousand bucks should they choose to prioritize affordability over select impressive specs that can be found in a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord. The company made sure they have a market to sell it to, and with the ongoing pandemic and the economy trying to recover, this is the best that’s going on for customers.

The brand stays true to the sedan-theme but its attempt to be marketable by using design falls short. The K5 does well to break the boring look of sedans by integrating a more impressive bumper. The looks you get when you drive this car will be something you can get used to but the pricing has more relevance.

Our verdict: Definitely buy it for the looks. It’s passable performance-wise but with the price tag, it’s not one to pass.

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