The passenger sedan market definitely ain’t what it used to be.
Not long ago, the conventional four-door sedan defined the new car marketplace. If you went shopping for a new car, that’s what you bought nine times out of 10.
Yes, SUVs were around. But they were more of a novelty than a legitimate choice for those in the market for a new set of wheels.
SUVs now account for at least half of all new cars sales in North America. If you lump them in with pickup trucks, that goes up to about 75 percent. People have spoken – they want the practicality, elbow room and usability of SUVs and light trucks. So carmakers are gradually phasing out or cutting back on their four-door sedan models. Ford, for example, no longer makes them.
That doesn’t mean you can’t find a four-door sedan. In fact, now may be a good time to go looking, with manufacturers trying to play catch-up with their fast-selling SUVs and light truck models.
Kia, for example, has a perfectly good candidate in its mid-size K5.
Available in four trim levels – LX, EX, GT-Line and GT – the K5 is powered by either a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine or a turbocharged 2.5-litre.
The GT, which is what I drove this time, has the latter powerplant, but the GT-Line has the smaller engine. You can also choose from all-wheel drive or front-wheel drive. The GT has front-wheel drive – don’t ask me why – while all other models come with all-wheel drive. Surely, the larger engine, with its additional 110 horsepower, would be a better choice for all-wheel drive?
Both models have eight-speed transmissions, but the GT offers a dual-clutch arrangement, which may appeal to performance enthusiasts. For me, it didn’t make much difference – as far as I’m concerned, this car should have a manual gearbox option.
Aside from a rather perplexing model range and options list, the K5 is one of those cars that really offers nothing to complain about. It’s nice to look at, has plenty of get-up and go, seems to be well assembled, is comfortable and comes with a palatable price tag. The base model starts at $29,595, while the GT I drove starts at just under $40,000.
I’d go with the regular model – among other things, it offers better fuel economy, though only slightly, and has much of the same equipment and modern conveniences as the GT model. The latter version comes with larger wheels and tires, special exhaust, parking collision avoidance, backseat ventilation, different instrumentation and heads-up display, among other things. I really came to appreciate this latter feature – not a big deal, but it adds to the driving experience.
I also managed to get along with the radio and could actually change stations without having to consult the manual.
Trunk space, which is key in this market, is 434 litres (15.3 cubic feet). In comparison, the Toyota Camry has 15.1 cubic feet and the Honda Accord has 16.7 cubic feet.
Like its parent company, Hyundai, Kia takes dead aim at mainstream buyers. No ground is broken and you won’t find anything cutting edge with the K5. But you will find a competent, driveable and reasonably affordable people carrier that can carry five adults no problem.
And it has a comparatively high standard equipment level. Things like heated front seats, heated steering wheel, Bluetooth, hill assist control and wireless charging are standard with all four models.
The K5 does everything this type of vehicle is supposed to do.
2022 Kia K5 GT
Engine: 2.5-litre turbocharged four cylinder
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Horsepower: 290 at 5,800 rpm
Torque: 311 foot pounds at 1,650 to 4,000 rpm
Base price: $39,995
Fuel economy: not available; regular gas
Some alternatives: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Subaru Legacy, Mazda6, Nissan Altima, Volkswagen Passat, Chevrolet Malibu
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.
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