The passenger car market is definitely not what it used to be.
Not so long ago, the traditional four-door sedan defined the new car market. If I go shopping for a new car, that’s what I bought nine times out of 10.
Yes, SUVs were nearby. But it was more of a novelty than a legitimate option for those in the market for a new set of wheels.
SUVs now account for at least half of all new car sales in North America. If you bundle it with pickup trucks, that goes up to about 75 percent. People have spoken—they want the practicality, elbow room and ease of use for SUVs and light trucks. So automakers are gradually abandoning or curtailing four-door sedan models. Ford, for example, no longer makes them.
This does not mean that you cannot find a four-door sedan. Indeed, now may be a good time to research, as manufacturers try to catch up with fast-selling SUVs and light-truck models.
Kia, for example, has a perfectly good filter in its mid-size K5.
The K5 is available in four trim levels – LX, EX, GT-Line and GT – and is powered by either a 1.6-liter four-cylinder or 2.5-liter turbocharged engine.
The GT, which I drove this time around, has the latter engine, but the GT-Line has a 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 a larger engine, with its additional 110 horsepower, would be a better all-wheel drive option?
Both models have an eight-speed transmission, 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.
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Aside from the model range and somewhat bewildering list of options, the K5 is one of those cars that really doesn’t have much to complain about. It’s nice to look at, has plenty of getting up and going, seems well assembled, is comfortable and comes at an affordable price. The base model starts at $29,595, while the GT I I drove starts at less than $40,000.
I’d go for the regular model – among other things, it offers better fuel economy, albeit just a bit, and has much of the same equipment and modern amenities as the GT model. The latest version comes with larger wheels and tires, a special exhaust, parking collision avoidance, rear seat ventilation, various devices and a head-up display, among other things. I’ve come to really appreciate this last feature – not a big deal, but it does add to the driving experience.
I was also able to get along with the radio and can actually change stations without having to refer to the manual.
Trunk space, which is standard in this market, is 434 liters (15.3 cubic feet). By comparison, the Toyota Camry has 15.1 cubic feet and the Honda Accord has 16.7 cubic feet.
Like its parent company, Hyundai, Kia is taking a dead target for regular buyers. No ground is broken and you won’t find anything cutting edge with the K5. But you will find a competent, drivable and affordable people carrier that can carry five adults without any problem.
And it has a relatively high equipment level. Things like heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, Bluetooth, hill assist control and wireless charging are standard on all four models.
The K5 does everything this type of vehicle is supposed to do.
2022 Kia K5 GT
engine2.5 liter turbocharged four-cylinder
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
to cut: front wheels
horse power: 290 at 5800 rpm
torque: 311 ft-lbs at 1,650 to 4,000 rpm
Base price: $39,995
fuel economy: not available; normal gas
some alternatives: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Subaru Legacy, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, Volkswagen Passat, Chevrolet Malibu
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He has been twice named Canadian Auto Journalist of the Year and is a past president of the Canadian Automotive Journalists Association (AJAC). For interview requests, click here.
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