Sick and tired of being seen as the budget alternative to established Japanese brands, Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia have launched an all-out assault on every segment of the car market. Kia made inroads on the three-row front with the terrific Telluride SUV, and threatens to soon upend the minivan market with the slick new Sedona. Next on Kia's list is the venerable Toyota Camry, which Kia will attempt to take on with the redesigned K5—previously known as the Optima.
Based on a new "N3" platform, the 2021 K5 will be longer, wider, lower, and stiffer than its predecessor, and will track the Camry's scent through Kia's signature new "tiger nose" grille. Inside is leatherette upholstery and an ambitious tech suite, with an infotainment screen up to 10.25 inches across, standard drive safety assist technologies and a wealth of optional tech-xtras. GPS-reading cruise control can actively adjust speeds for upcoming corners or changing speed limits, all while keeping a safe distance from other vehicles. Inductive charging for your Apple or Android device—both are wirelessly compatible with the smaller infotainment screen—are available, as is a 12-speaker Bose sound system, which can steady your heartbeat with its "sound of nature" ambiance settings, or accelerate it by piping engine noise into the cabin.
On lower-end K5s, said engine will be a turbocharged, 1.6-liter gas unit utilizing continuously variable valve duration to produce 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. This power heads through an eight-speed automatic to the front wheels, or optionally, all four, via a front-biased AWD system. Regardless of driven wheels, multiple drive modes help the K5 make the most of that power, as do standard alloy wheels, which come in 16-, 18-, and 19-inch spans, the latter two with standard Pirelli P-Zero sport tires.
These Pirellis are just one feature of the new K5's sports sedan trim level, GT, which also includes an eight-speed, wet dual-clutch automatic transmission and a 2.5-liter turbo engine. This enlarged power plant produces 290 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, which can drag the K5 GT—presumably by its front axle—to 60 mph in as little as 5.8 seconds, or quicker than the Subaru BRZ.
If that kind of performance isn't enough to tempt you into the new K5, consider that Kia plans to build the thing in West Point, Georgia, where it also assembles the award-winning Telluride. Should even that not satisfy you, and you insist on having a pickup truck bed too, well, there's always the new Hyundai Santa Cruz.
Got a tip? Send us a note: [email protected]