New Kia EV6 AWD review

The RWD version of the Kia EV6 impressed us, but can the AWD model do the same? 


The Kia EV6 is a terrific electric car, but we’re not convinced that it’s worth spending the extra money on this dual-motor version. It’s faster in a straight line but not really any more involving or capable on twistier roads – so you’re left with a model that commands a price premium, while offering reduced range compared with the rear-drive edition. That’s the EV6 we’d go for.

There was a time, not too long ago, when the idea of a Kia costing even £30,000 would have been hard to comprehend. But the Korean brand has matured greatly over the past decade, to the point where there is currently a very healthy order book for its Sorento large SUV – a car that could cost you more than £50k.

There’s a sense of quiet confidence about Kia’s new electric flagship, the EV6, breaking the same price barrier. EVs still cost more than their combustion-engined counterparts anyway, and the market is also very “green”, with brand equity and image playing a lesser role. Perfect fodder, really, for a company like Kia, complete with the hi-tech backing of the Hyundai group.

We were pretty impressed with the EV6 when we tried it in rear-wheel-drive form in the UK earlier this autumn. Now it’s time to decide whether it’s worth spending the extra money (not far off £10,000 more, in fact) for more power and performance with the four-wheel-drive variant.

The EV6, of course, sits on E-GMP, the same bespoke pure-electric platform as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis’s forthcoming GV60. That means 800V electrics, which equates to ultra-fast charging; there’s some debate about the actual speed, but all you really need to know is that when it’s hooked up to a 350kW charger, the EV6 can replenish 80 per cent of its 77.4kWh usable battery in just 18 minutes. We’d struggle to drink a nuclear Costa latte coffee in that amount of time.

The raw stats, of course, are shared with the rear-drive EV6. But this GT-Line S edition has a second electric motor on the front axle, boosting the total power and torque figures from 226bhp and 350Nm to a meaty 321bhp and 605Nm. The top speed remains at 114mph, but the 0-62mph time is now a punchy 5.2 seconds, a gain of more than two seconds over the rear-wheel-drive edition.

You can feel the difference, too; there’s still not the sledgehammer delivery of force that you get in a Porsche Taycan; that will presumably come with a hilarious-sounding, 577bhp version of the EV6 that’s due in 2022. But there is more urgency about the full-size, five-seat crossover in this format; let’s call it genuine shove to match the instant electric torque delivery.


In a straight line, then, the GT-Line S AWD will certainly deliver that all-electric one-upmanship at traffic lights. Around the corners, though, the chassis – while still better tied down than the Ioniq 5’s – is rather less happy with the increased potential. The system struggles to cope with the motors’ responses, giving you an inconsistent delivery that makes it hard to drive smoothly.

 And that’s on wider routes with a perfect surface. Flick the EV6 into Sport mode on a bumpy, twisty back road and despite the decent body control, it becomes altogether unruly, to the point where it’s not really much fun at all. At least the ride quality remains on the acceptable side of firm.

Elsewhere, the cruising experience is similar to that of the two-wheel-drive version, albeit with a teeny bit more electric whine because, well, you’re closer to the front motor than you are to the rear.

And of course, the addition of that extra unit in a car with the same battery capacity means a reduction in range – from 328 miles down to around 300. Our experience suggests you’ll get north of 290 miles without much compromise in your driving style, though, which is solid. Hyundai-Kia’s battery-management algorithms remain among the best in the market.

Inside, there are a few harder plastics but the overall finish is excellent, and the technology fitted is right up there with the best in class. There’s a pair of 12.3-inch curved displays, accommodating digital instruments and then a slick, responsive infotainment system.

The cabin itself has room for five adults, albeit with slightly reduced headroom in the rear compared with the Ioniq 5 – a trade-off, certainly, for the EV6’s more coupe-esque roofline. The boot capacity is 490 litres – more than enough for a family’s everyday needs – and you can alter the floor height. There’s also a “frunk”, a plastic storage box under the bonnet, but the additional motor cuts its capacity on this model to 20 litres, compared with the 50 litres on offer in the rear-drive edition of the Kia EV.

Model: Kia EV6 GT-Line S 77.4kWh AWD
Price: £51,945
Motor/battery: 2 x e-motor, 77.4kWh
Power/torque: 321bhp/605Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
Top speed: 114mph
Range: 300 miles
Max charging: 350kW (0-80% in 18min)
On sale: Now

Kia with new electric models at the IAA showroom

Kia Europe premiered as many as two very advanced electric cars at the IAA Mobility show, which further strengthens its position as a leader and the most advanced brand in sustainable, emission-free mobility.

European premiere of the plug-in hybrid variant of the new Sportage

The main role - along with the global premiere - was played by the completely new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Sportage, which redefines the SUV as a very economical, dynamic and practical vehicle for every day, and at the same time as a vehicle capable of driving off-road. Another novelty at the IAA Mobility showroom is the EV6, Kia's first dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV), which, along with its European premiere, represents Kia's new design philosophy and commitment to sustainable mobility.

European Sportage for the first time as a plug-in hybrid

The new European PHEV Sportage, developed on an advanced new platform that incorporates groundbreaking innovations and powertrain electrification technologies, delivers an uncompromising, more environmentally friendly and dynamic SUV package. It combines power and performance with the emission-free power driving capacity that can cover most everyday trips from home to work or transportation for everyday needs.

The PHEV variant is powered by a 1.6-liter T-GDI engine, a 66.9 kW permanent magnet electric motor and a 13.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack.

The powertrain combination offers a total of 265 hp, with 180 hp from the internal combustion engine. Also new are Kia's latest highly efficient hybrid starter generator (HSG) and hybrid control unit (HPCU). HSG helps improve efficiency and reduce noise and vibration, thanks in part to a high-tech permanent magnet. HPCU achieves improved capabilities, better efficiency and lower overall noise reduction, despite the smaller volume compared to the previous system.

The installation of the battery pack in the Sportage PHEV has been carefully arranged to prevent intrusion into the passenger and luggage compartments. That is why the battery is placed in the middle between the two axles under the body of the SUV, which enables a balanced distribution of weight and brings a cabin that is practical, comfortable and versatile.

The state-of-the-art battery pack has a high-tech battery management unit that constantly monitors the condition of the battery, including factors such as current, voltage, insulation and fault diagnosis. The package also has an advanced cell control unit that measures and monitors cell voltage and temperature.

The Sportage PHEV charges with a power of 7.2 kW, which gives it a high power density of 1.53 kW / ℓ and an efficiency of 95%. The PHEV Sportage is equipped with an advanced 6-speed automatic transmission.

European premiere of Kia's first all-electric vehicle, the innovative EV6

The pioneering EV6 crossover is an exclusively battery-powered electric vehicle created in accordance with Kia's new design philosophy (Opposites United) and also the first vehicle built on Kia's new E-GMP platform (Electric-Global Modular Platform).

The EV6, which is powered solely by electricity, offers a long range (2 variants) and zero emissions. It is Kia's first electric vehicle available with 2-wheel drive (2WD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD). The EV6 in the 2WD version with a capacity of 77.4 kWh can travel up to 528 kilometers on a single charge in WLTP * combined driving mode. With a maximum torque of 605 Nm available on the AWD variant, the EV6 can accelerate from 0 to 100 km / h in just 5.2 seconds.

All EV6 variants have the ability to charge 800 and 400 volts without the need for additional components or adapters. Thanks to the advanced 800-volt fast charging mode, the new Kia EV6 can be charged from 10% to 80% of the battery capacity in just 18 minutes. For outdoor adventures, the EV6 has been given the V2L (vehicle-to-load) function, which thanks to the integrated charging control unit (ICCU) enables up to 3.6 kW of charging power from the vehicle battery via a simple converter that converts the external charging port into an electrical outlet.

The carelessness of the EV6 driver is taken care of by the equipment in which e.g. include the latest suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), which includes a new generation of Highway Driving Assist (HDA) lane departure warning systems, Blind Spot View Monitor ), the Forward Collision Avoidance Assist system, which includes the function of turning at the intersection and passing through the intersection, as well as the new technology of intelligent headlights.

Very comfortable and relaxing seats, two 12.3-inch curved screens, multifunction control switches, the largest space in the class and impressive storage spaces take care of all needs. The flat-bottomed E-GMP platform provides a very comfortable cabin interior that includes ample legroom in the first (1,078 mm) and second redu seat (990 mm). Add to that the practicality and functionality of a family-friendly trunk (520 liters, VDA). Remote unlocking and locking with automatic pull-out of the door handle from the body, various driving modes that improve driving and handling, and a head-up augmented reality screen and ergonomic design provide an experience that always puts drivers first.

Visitors to the salon got to know the new Sportage and EV6 up close

Until September 12, visitors to the IAA Mobility showroom could see Kia's showroom at the Odeonsplatz, where, thanks to virtual reality (VR), they could try out the EV6 in more detail and, of course, get to know the new Sportage PHEV and the new EV6.

* Note regarding range:

The range was measured according to the standardized EU measurement procedure (WLTP). The EV6 can achieve a maximum range of up to 528 kilometers with a 77.4 kWh battery pack, rear-wheel drive and 19-inch wheels. The real range can be influenced by the individual driving style and other factors, such as e.g. vehicle speed, outside temperature, topography and use of electrical devices / units and may reduce it. An 800-volt connection for electric vehicles with a power of at least 250 kW of electricity is required to reach the maximum charging speed. Actual charging speed and charging time may be affected by battery temperature and external weather conditions.

2021 Kia K5 GT First Test: Front-Wheel-Drive Burnout Machine

"Power is nothing without control." That's not a quote from a notable historical figure or philosopher; it's part of Pirelli's marketing message, with the slogan plastered across billboards during Formula 1 races. The point is well taken, but Kia apparently didn't get the memo while it worked on the 2021 Kia K5 GT.

 Funny enough, the Korean manufacturer ships the 2021 Kia K5 GT on Pirelli P Zero All-Season tires rather than the outright performance rubber it begs for. And those tires stick out like pimples on a teenager's face—you just want to pop 'em. However, an excellent and darn quick family sedan sits atop those four hunks of rubber.

Did Somebody Say Power?

2021 Kia K5 GT Line AWD 16

Much like the 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line we tested earlier this year, the 2021 Kia K5 GT's immense grunt comes courtesy of a 2.5-liter turbocharged I-4 that kicks out 290 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. Those types of figures tend to be too much for the front wheels of most cars, and the Kia is no different.

Should you manage to avoid undue wheel hop and execute a clean launch, the K5 GT sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, just a tenth shy of the Sonata N Line. The 0.1 second advantage holds true all the way to the quarter-mile mark as the Kia crosses the line in 14.0 seconds at 101.8 mph. Although the all-season tires might not have limited the GT significantly during its acceleration runs, the rubber made a huge difference in braking and around our figure-eight course.

Handling And Braking

The 2021 Kia K5 GT needed 127 feet to stop from 60 mph, an unimpressive result for what is supposed to be a somewhat sporty sedan. The Rolls-Royce Cullinan, a yacht-sized SUV that weighs 2,715 pounds more than the K5 GT, stopped 20 feet shorter. Out of every 2021 model-year sedan we've tested to date, just one stopped in a longer distance: the Honda Accord EX-L, which needed 129 feet.

The Sonata N Line also stopped in a considerably shorter distance, just 110 feet, and the difference between the two sedans is even more apparent around our figure-eight test. The 2021 Kia K5 GT's time of 26.3 seconds at an average of 0.69 g was both slower and less grippy than the Sonata N Line's 25.8-second time at 0.72 g. Of course, the Hyundai we tested wore stickier rubber.

How Does It Feel?

2021 Kia K5 GT Line AWD 29
 Without available options for all-wheel drive or a limited-slip differential, the 2021 Kia K5 GT sells itself a bit short. After a riotous first five minutes behind its wheel, the charm of an absurdly powerful four-banger and an equally absurd lack of grip at the driven wheels tends to bleed into frustration. You'd like to stop screeching your way through every intersection and away from every stoplight, but at anything more than 50 percent throttle, the GT is either abusing its front tires or being suffocated by traction control—all the way into third gear.

But perhaps the most telling number regarding just how quick the K5 GT could be is how it accelerates at speed. It needs just 2.5 seconds to get from 45 to 65 mph; that's 0.2 second quicker than a Mercedes-AMG GLA35 and right on par with the 2022 VW Golf GTI. It's also quicker than the Honda Accord Sport 2.0, the midsize family sedan everyone wants to steal the gold medal from. The instant the K5 GT is no longer traction limited, its persona changes from a knuckle-dragging burnout machine into something resembling a legitimate sport sedan.

What About Comfort?

What's more, the rest of the 2021 Kia K5 GT doesn't lose any of what makes the K5 one of the better sedans in its class. The eight-speed double-clutch transmission is surprisingly snappy, and it rips shifts without hesitation whenever the driver beckons. It's nearly as alert as the DSG in the new Golf GTI, a standard-setter for mass-market twin-clutch transmissions. The car's overly light steering doesn't provide much in the way of feedback, but that hardly matters when there's so little grip to begin with.

However, the all-season tires might provide one advantage over a sportier tire: comfort. Despite sharing a platform with the Sonata N Line, the Kia K5 GT's ride is markedly better than the Hyundai's. Around town, the supple suspension tune and squishy tires deliver a sort of calm that contradicts the beastly character lurking under the hood. The ride quality isn't what you'd call serene all the time, and a fair amount of wind noise can creep into the cabin by way of the driver-side mirror. But the K5 GT's poise and the way it handles bumpy ruts make it easy to believe you're driving something much more expensive.

2021 Kia K5 GT Line AWD 11


The K5 GT's interior features a lot of plastic, but it doesn't cheapen the car's appeal. Kia uses some nice materials for the cabin's touchpoints, and it breaks up the plastics used everywhere else. The dash is handsome and boasts a nice screen that integrates with the instrument cluster cowl instead of sticking out like a tacked-on tablet. The cabin is spacious for both front and rear passengers, and the trunk offers a handy 16.0 cubic feet and a wide aperture.

With all of Kia's excellent driver aids, a supportive pair of front seats, and easygoing road manners, the 2021 Kia K5 GT is certainly worth considering if you want a sedan with some hot sauce under its hood. Set your budget for some proper summer tires on top of the car's $35,705 base price, and you'll unlock its potential.



2022 Kia Carnival First Drive Review: So Long, Sedona

No Ferris wheels or fried dough, but the Carnival is good fun.

Drop the fantasy for a moment. As much as we'd all love to project the rough-and-tumble, outdoorsy ruggedness associated with the deep-voiced sales pitches in SUV ads, how often are you really tackling anything more challenging than a gravel parking lot or a dusty fire road?

Buyers in need of three-row seating but who won't capitalize on the off-road Sporting aspect of a sport utility vehicle can get loads more utility out of a less ostentatious, less understood class of vehicle. The clever buyer shops for a minivan—or as Kia is calling it, a multipurpose vehicle (MPV). As much as we love the SUV of the year-winning Kia Telluride, the new 2022 Kia Carnival MPV could be a smarter fit for most families.

If you haven't heard of the Carnival, you're not alone. Kia introduced it as a new nameplate for 2022 to replace its Sedona minivan, which Kia has sold in the U.S. since the 2002 model year.

The Carnival rides on a lighter, stronger platform than the outgoing Sedona and features boxy, SUV-inspired sheetmetal reminiscent of newer Kia designs, including the Telluride, Seltos, and Sorento. (A neighbor even asked if it was an SUV or a minivan, which surely would thrill Kia's designers.) This is also the first model to don the newly redesigned Kia badge.

Cavernous Cargo Carrying

The Carnival is more spacious than the van it replaces, too. With 40.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row bench, it has 6.3 cubic feet more cargo volume than the old Sedona and at least 6.7 cubes more than any other current minivan. Stowing the third-row seats is easily doable with one hand via a chunky handle on the back of the seat, and with the seats folded, the load floor is completely flat.

Space behind the second row is class-competitive but a few cubes behind a comparable Honda Odyssey or Chrysler Pacifica. The Carnival's second-row seats are removable (in all models save the range-topping SX Prestige), a feature the Sedona didn't offer. To do so, lift a lever under the back side of the seat and fold the seat forward; removal requires no more than average adult strength, but the awkward shape means it may be wise to enlist the help of a partner.

Those planning to frequently swap between using the maximum space behind the first row and using the second-row seats may be better off with Chrysler Pacifica's Stow 'n Go solution rather than wrangling the second-row seats into and out of the Carnival. Once they're removed, however, not only does the Kia have more space behind the first row than any other minivan, but its cargo volume also measures larger than that of the colossal Chevrolet Suburban (145.1 versus 144.7 cubic feet).

Three Roomy Rows Of Seating

But don't go thinking the Carnival is just a cargo van stand-in. The new MPV can be ordered in seven- and eight-passenger configurations, both with ample legroom in all three rows. Third-row access is near effortless with a one-hand pull of a handle beneath the second-row armrest that folds and slides the seat forward; older kids will have no problem operating it themselves. Third-row legroom matches the Pacifica and is a couple inches behind the Sienna and the Odyssey. A 6-foot-1 passenger has just enough legroom in the way back, but their head likely will be brushing the ceiling. Also, the rearmost windows border on claustrophobia-inducingly small.

The second row is really where it's at. Beyond the 40.5 inches of legroom, its neat aspect comes with the SX Prestige and its "VIP" second-row seat. The Prestige swaps out the standard second-row bench for two leather-lined, heated, and cooled lounges that are more comfortable than the furniture in most living rooms. You can slide them way back, to make room for the Prestige's party trick: full recline with power-extendable legrests. Friends compared them to the plush recliners in upscale movie theaters. At $47,275, the Carnival SX Prestige is pricey, but it's less than other top-spec minivans. And it easily represents the most luxurious rear seating experience in any car under $50,000.

Up front, there's an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, but that's only on the base model. All other trims showcase a huge 12.3-inch display that's set high on the dash to keep your eyes near the road. Through the infotainment screen, the driver or front passenger can access the cabin camera and the intercom (standard on EX and above), which allow parents up front to talk to and keep an eye on kids in the back without turning around.

Living With The Kia Carnival

For the most part, it all comes together as a well-executed people mover.

There are six USB charging ports in the car (eight with the rear seat entertainment displays) plus two three-prong household outlets and two 12-volt power outlets. Including the wireless charging pad that's standard on EX trims and higher, it's possible to charge as many as 13 devices at once. The Carnival has 11 cupholders, too—no matter how many people you pack into this thing, no phone need go uncharged and no cup or juicebox unheld.

The interior design is just as handsome as the bodywork. Kia integrates metal-look trim throughout the cabin, and leatherette upholstery is standard on the EX and SX. Especially with the Prestige trim's dual 12.3-inch front displays, the cabin gives off real Mercedes-Benz vibes. That said, the metallic trim can cause dangerous glare for the driver in the wrong light. What's more, Kia's overreliance on capacitive-touch buttons for HVAC and infotainment controls can be frustrating, as they lack tactile feedback and can be tough to find without taking your eyes off the road.

SX trims and above include dual 10.1-inch displays as part of a rear entertainment system. The displays feature preinstalled apps for streaming Netflix, Youtube, and Twitch, and there's a kids mode with graphics by Pinkfong, the South Korean children's educational empire behind last year's Baby Shark phenomenon. Factor in the HDMI, USB, and wireless device-mirroring capabilities, and the entertainment prospects are vast.

The rear entertainment displays are not perfect, however. Streaming content through any of the preinstalled apps requires connecting the system to a paired smartphone's Wi-Fi hot spot because unlike its competitors, the Carnival does not include one. In an effort to treat the Carnival as a mobile office for an afternoon, we were also frustrated to find the HDMI input produced a fuzzy, low-res image and too much lag to accurately use a cursor, though Kia insists the examples we drove were pre-production units and this could change.

Kia Carnival Driving Impressions

The biggest surprise from our time with the Carnival? How well it drives.

Kia has developed a new 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 for the Carnival. With 290 hp and 262 lb-ft, it's the most powerful engine in the segment and is tied for the most torque. Paired with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic that is rarely caught in the wrong gear, the engine provides ample acceleration. The Carnival is also rated to tow 3,500 pounds, which is typical for this class.

Vans like this need to ride well, too, and this Kia achieves that. The combination of relatively soft springs and tires with plenty of sidewall delivers a plushness that won't wake the baby in the back seat if you hit a pothole. More impressive, though, the Carnival exhibits next to no body roll and minimal secondary ride motions. It's genuinely fun to drive. And when you're just on a highway slog, Kia's lane centering and adaptive cruise control systems are among the best in the business.

That Highway Driving Assist is part of a generous collection of driver assist active safety tech. Automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane centering, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention warning, and rear occupant alert are all standard, even on the base model. The EX trim adds front parking sensors and Highway Driving Assist adaptive cruise control; the SX gains auto rear braking and an (invaluable) high-res 360-degree camera system; and the SX Prestige boasts a blind-spot camera feed in its 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

Our only complaint about the mechanicals is the lack of choice. With the new Sienna debuting with a hybrid-only powertrain and Chrysler offering a plug-in hybrid Pacifica, some buyers will be dismayed by the Carnival's 22 mpg combined fuel economy rating. (Queried about the lack of a hybrid offering for the Carnival, a Kia representative said, "Be on the lookout for what's in store. ") Drivers in colder climates may also be lured away by Chrysler and Toyota's available AWD—the Carnival is FWD only.

The Verdict

We mentioned earlier that Kia is marketing the Carnival as an MPV, a multipurpose vehicle. Nothing wrong with that; it can manage stand-in duty as a comfortable road tripper, an executive luxury limo, or even a full-blown cargo hauler.

But consider the Carnival's strengths: smooth ride; thoughtful, family-friendly features; intuitive tech; and a vast, high-quality cabin. Lean in to the stereotype, Kia. The Carnival is an excellent modern minivan.


Kia Rio hatchback review

"The Kia Rio is a competent supermini, but because it doesn't excel in any one area, it's difficult to recommend over the competition"

The Kia Rio has matured rather impressively since the first, rather mundane and budget-focused version arrived over a decade ago. While still good value, the updated Rio is now more sensible than penny-pinching, and a worthy competitor in the hard-fought supermini class.

Best reliable small cars
While it may not be as stylish as some, its strengths are practicality, fuel efficiency and generous standard equipment, not to mention the seven-year warranty that makes any Kia a trouble-free ownership proposition. It's a competent all-rounder and deserves to be weighed up against European rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Vauxhall Corsa, SEAT Ibiza, Hyundai i10 and Skoda Fabia, as well as the Nissan Micra and Toyota Yaris.

Compared to the Ford and SEAT, the Kia feels pretty average from behind the wheel. Its steering responses are dull and it doesn't feel as poised or agile as the Ford Fiesta, yet it doesn't have the comfortable ride of the Renault Clio, either.

There are three engines to choose from, our favourite of which is a 1.0-litre petrol with either 99 or 118bhp. This is a relatively modern three-cylinder and it's quite peppy – which suits its position near the top of the price list. The range-topper also gets 48-volt mild-hybrid tech and a clever manual gearbox, helping to make its running costs more competitive. The two versions can reach 62mph from rest in 10 and 9.8 seconds respectively, but aren't quite as quiet or smooth as the equivalent rival engines.

There's also the less expensive 83bhp 1.25-litre engine, capable of returning up to 49.6mpg. Meanwhile, for those who still want fuel-efficiency but whose driving is mainly urban, the 99bhp petrol engine still returns up to 52.3mpg.

Further adding to the Rio's common-sense credentials is its spacious interior. It's now available as a five-door only, so access to the front and rear seats is easy and nobody on board is likely to feel claustrophobic. Nor is your luggage likely to complain of being cooped up – there's 325 litres of boot capacity, which is about 10% more than a Fiesta.

Even the Rio's trim levels are sensibly named, dubbed simply 1, 2, and 3, although the range-topping model is known as GT-Line S. Even the entry-level 1 trim includes air-conditioning, which hasn’t always been standard on the most basic cars in this class, and 2 versions onwards get a new eight-inch touchscreen. It should be noted that you can only choose the most powerful petrol engine in the 3 trim and above. We recommend the mid-range 2 in 99bhp 1.0-litre form as a good all-rounder.

It's clear, then, that while the Rio has plenty going for it, it's no class leader in this tough segment. While many will appreciate its no-nonsense character, it doesn’t really excel in any one area and its rather sedate looks and driving experience mean it won’t be a car you buy with your heart. However, if you're more interested in hassle-free and affordable transportation, there's no ignoring that long warranty, nor the fact that the Kia Rio finished in 23rd place out of the top 75 cars in our 2020 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey.

The Kia Rio engine range has been overhauled for the latest model and all of the engines offer decent efficiency. There's no full-hybrid version to rival the Renault Clio E-Tense, Honda Jazz or Toyota Yaris, but the top 1.0-litre petrol engine now gets an innovative gearbox and mild-hybrid setup to help boost efficiency.

Kia Rio MPG & CO2

The most efficient engine is the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol. With a manual, it can return up to 52.3mpg on the WLTP cycle, and it's both more economical and more powerful than the naturally aspirated 1.2-litre engine. It's the engine we recommend due to its reasonable mix of performance and economy, and it's a good choice for company car drivers too, as it falls into a low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band.

The more powerful version of the same 1.0-litre engine is the strongest performer in the line-up, but owing to its small size and mild-hybrid technology, it still manages 52.3mpg and emits 122-126g/km of CO2. A small battery and generator can add torque to help the engine pull away, while an innovative manual gearbox can automatically disconnect drive while coasting to allow the engine to switch off briefly.

The 83bhp 1.25-litre petrol is the cheapest engine in the Rio range, returning up to 49.6mpg and emitting 130g/km of CO2. In late 2018, Kia ended production of the diesel version of the Rio hatchback. All Rios are liable for road tax of £150 a year.

Insurance group
The Kia Rio occupies insurance groups four to nine (out of 50), with the 83bhp 1.25-litre petrol costing least to insure and the range-topping 118bhp 1.0-litre 3 and GT-Line S trims sitting in group nine.

One area in which the Rio excels, like all Kias, is warranty cover. Lasting for seven years or 100,000 miles, the brand’s warranty offers fantastic peace of mind and should give owners confidence in the reliability of their cars. It's fully transferable to subsequent owners of the car, too.

Kia servicing costs are generally competitive. Petrol models need a service every 10,000 miles or once a year, with diesels needing attention every 20,000 miles or once a year. Kia offers a ‘Care-3’ service pack that costs £299 and covers you for the first three services. For an extra £30, you can get the car’s first MOT included, and for £599 you can cover the cost of the car’s first five services.


Kia Sorento Is Compelling in Hybrid Form

The front-wheel-drive hybrid version of Kia's redesigned Sorento mid-size three-row crossover packs a solid 227 horsepower and a 37-mpg EPA combined estimate.

The new 2021 Kia Sorento hybrid doesn't make a big deal of itself, despite being the first electrically assisted version of Kia's mid-size crossover. It's got a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and it drives like you'd expect—except that the little four feels like it has about 25 percent more displacement than it actually does. In fact, the Sorento hybrid's combined output—227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque—nearly matches that of the 2020 Volkswagen GTI. Like a GTI, the front-wheel-drive-only Sorento torments its front tires with torque. Unlike the compact GTI, though, it has three rows of seats and an EPA combined estimate of 37 mpg. Thus concludes our references to the Volkswagen GTI, but we hope the comparisons helped you subliminally internalize the idea that the Sorento hybrid is actually kind of fun.

To get the Sorento hybrid's 227 horses out of a 1.6-liter turbo-four, you'd generally have to boost the bejesus out of it. Kia didn't do that. But it did pair the engine with a sizable electric motor and a 1.5-kWh lithium battery that enables some neat tricks. Such as producing an abundance of torque off the line and sailing along at highway speeds with the engine off. And yes, achieving solid fuel-economy ratings of 39 mpg in the city and 35 on the highway.

Kia's highly specific spec sheet lists the 1.6-liter as making 177.2 horsepower and 195.4 pound-feet of torque from 1500 to 4500 rpm. The electric motor generates a claimed 60.1 horses and 194.7 pound-feet from zero up to 1600 revs. Notice that those two torque figures are both almost the same and happen at low revs, which helps explain why the hybrid's low-end grunt feels diesel-like in strength. It's simply a smooth, prodigious shove that's out of proportion to the gas engine's displacement.

The 1.6 does sometimes lug at low rpm, particularly when climbing grades, as the transmission holds a tall gear and leans on the electric motor for help. But that's a common hybrid trait. As dealership sales reps like to say: They all do that. And, as we tend we say: At least it's not a CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission). Should you desire a lower gear from the Sorento hybrid's conventional automatic, there are paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel.

The Sorento hybrid offers no dedicated electric-only mode, but nonetheless it relies on electric power surprisingly often and at high speeds. Light on the throttle, downhill, you'll see the green EV indicator light come on at 80 mph. While its relatively tiny battery means you won't ever go far on electricity alone, this Sorento is good at seamlessly juggling its propulsion options without calling attention to the machinations happening beyond the firewall.

Priced at $34,760 to start for the base S trim, the hybrid costs $1700 more than a non-hybrid Sorento S, which employs a 191-hp naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder and an eight-speed automatic. That model is only rated for 26 mpg combined, and the EPA figures that over five years, the hybrid will save you $1750 in fuel. Your mileage may vary, of course, but you'll notice that those estimated savings neatly erase the hybrid's price premium. It looks as if a half-decade is your financial break-even point, if that's a motivating factor. But the hybrid also is the significantly more powerful option, and that's a worthy upgrade on its own. Just don't expect it to outpace the nonhybrid Sorento's optional 281-hp 2.5-liter turbo-four that we've already driven.

In terms of drawbacks, the Sorento hybrid has a couple. It's only available as a front-driver, so if all-wheel drive is nonnegotiable you'll need to look elsewhere—or wait for the upcoming plug-in hybrid variant that drives all four of its wheels with a combined 261 horses and a significantly larger battery. The hybrid also shouldn't be your pick if you expect to tow much with it, as its 2000-pound tow rating lags behind the nonhybrid models' 3500-pound max. But if neither of those factors is an issue, you may as well spring for the hybrid over the standard Sorento. Think of it as a five-year investment in free horsepower.



Kia Forte GT Review: Basically Fun

The verdict: Compact cars are often purchased as basic transit, and the 2020 Kia Forte answers that call, but if you splurge for a GT trim you’ll get a bit of inexpensive fun without sacrificing everyday drivability.

Versus the competition: Some compact sedans offer versions with sporty appearance packages that fail to deliver on the fun mechanics, but the Forte GT is not guilty of that. Its performance and cabin upgrades deliver enough action to help the car stand out yet keep costs reasonable.

The Forte competes in the compact sedan class against the likes of the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla; see them compared. Each of those cars offers an enthusiast version: the Civic Si, Elantra N Line and Corolla Apex.

Kia’s compact sedan was redesigned for 2019 and has seen few changes since. The biggest was 2020’s addition of a sport-oriented GT trim level with a new turbocharged engine and sport suspension.

Peppy and Playful

The Forte GT is pleasantly peppy. Its upgraded engine — a 201-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder — hustles fairly quickly off the line, and you’ll hear it; the throaty exhaust note comes on strong and is a nice complement to the engine’s added oomph. The four-cylinder is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that behaves nicely, with well-timed, smooth shifts; a six-speed manual is also available. Other Forte trim levels make do with the standard 147-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder and continuously variable automatic transmission.

Regardless of whether you choose the manual or automatic transmission, the GT’s added fun will cost you 3 mpg combined versus the standard engine: The regular Forte 2.0-liter is EPA-rated 31 or 33 mpg combined with the manual and CVT, respectively, while the GT is rated 28 or 30 mpg, respectively. The Forte GT and Elantra N Line are a bit thirstier with a manual than is the Civic Si, which is rated 30 mpg combined, but they offer more efficient automatics, which the Honda lacks. The Corolla Apex tops them all at 32 mpg with a stick shift and 34 mpg with an automatic, but it comes with trade-offs I’ll address below.

The Forte’s selectable driving modes alter its character quite a bit — for better and for worse. For extra responsiveness, pop it into Sport mode for more aggressive acceleration response and shift timing. Smart mode is designed to save gas, and it dulls acceleration and overall responsiveness.

Besides its unique drivetrain, the GT also gets a sport-tuned suspension. It handles nicely; the firm suspension deftly navigates curves with little lean, and there’s adequate shock absorption over bumps. Its steering has a quickness that further helps deliver a playful, connected-to-the-road feel.

The Forte GT is fairly well matched in terms of power against the Honda Civic Si and Hyundai Elantra N Line, which shares its engine with the Forte GT. (This comparison is most relevant because their weights are relatively similar.) Toyota’s sport-oriented version of the Corolla disappoints; like the others, the Corolla Apex has the added visual flair of a sport model and some suspension upgrades, but not enough performance goodies to make it much more entertaining to drive than a regular Corolla — which is to say, about as fun as attending a condo board meeting.

Clean, Sporty Cabin

The Forte’s clean, horizontal dashboard design appeals for its simplicity; elsewhere, the cabin strikes a jazzy tone with sport seats with red contrast stitching, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and pops of glossy black trim on the dash and doors. There’s some hard plastic on the door panels and at knee level, but most surfaces feel decently padded.

The sedan’s multimedia system is also well-done. The standard tabletlike 8-inch touchscreen sits high on the dash for good visibility. It’s responsive, and the system’s clear graphics and straightforward menu structure simplify operation.

Under the screen are several physical climate controls, which are also located within easy reach. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration are standard, and a wireless charging tray for compatible phones is optional. Other available features include heated and ventilated front seats and a 320-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system.

The Forte is mid-pack in both backseat headroom and legroom, but it loses points for child-safety seat accommodations. Front legroom is tight when rear-facing car seats are in place, and installation isn’t easy; the lower Latch anchors are buried in stiff upholstery and require some muscle to access. Other compact sedans have similar legroom issues but easier-to-access Latch anchors.

According to manufacturer specifications, the Forte’s trunk space is slightly larger than its competitors’ at 15.3 cubic feet. In practice, though, it’s disappointing. The trunk is deep, but the opening isn’t very tall, so fitting anything other than small items inside is tough. Its hinges also intrude into the space, potentially crushing cargo. Its cargo net, however, is a nice way to keep smaller items from rolling around (and getting crushed).

Safety and Value

The 2020 Kia Forte is well-equipped with a lot of standard safety features. All models get a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and a driver attention warning system.

Upper trim levels get even more standard safety equipment: a blind spot warning system with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert is standard on EX, GT-Line and GT trims. On the GT, adaptive cruise control and a reverse parking distance warning system are optional; they’re unavailable on other trims.

Competitors offer similar levels of standard and available safety features, but the Forte GT costs a lot less. With the automatic, it starts at $23,655 — lower than automatic versions of the Elantra N Line ($26,195) and Corolla Apex ($26,065). The Civic Si — which comes only with a manual transmission — starts at $26,155 in sedan trim. All prices include destination charges.

Budget is usually top-of-mind for compact sedan shoppers, but those willing to spend a little extra for fun will get just that with the Kia Forte GT.



2021 Kia K5 Pros and Cons Review: Better Than Accord?

Previously known as the Optima, Kia's new family sedan tries to stand out in a competitive segment.

The 2021 Kia K5 is trying to impress. This midsize sedan replaces the Optima in North America and adopts sportier styling than that of its predecessor. The Optima wasn't really known for its dynamic experience—it was a nice sedan that didn't impress or disappoint. With the K5, however, Kia seeks to change that. An all-turbo powertrain lineup, available all-wheel drive, and a spacious cabin all help the K5 generate some buzz in the still-crowded midsize sedan segment.

Whether you like it or hate it, the K5 is easily spotted in a crowded parking lot. The front end gets a new iteration of Kia's "tiger nose" grille and adds fake air vents, plus those Z-shaped daytime running lights. The rear is more mature, as it adopts dual exhaust tips and taillights that connect via a thin LED strip. The flashier exterior made an impact on our judges—some welcomed the new styling direction, but testing director Kim Reynolds described it as "more alien than interesting."

Sharing its platform and powertrains with the Hyundai Sonata, the K5 has a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder base engine with 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The optional turbo 2.5-liter is only available in the GT model, where it produces 290 hp and 311 lb-ft of twist. With its extra power, the K5 GT is much punchier than the Honda Accord 2.0T and delivers more torque than the Toyota Camry V-6.

Naturally, the 2.5-liter became the favorite among judges, as it made the K5 more fun to drive. The GT also handled well in our figure-eight test (though its sport suspension delivered a stiff ride on the street). We were especially thankful that Hyundai and Kia are still differentiating these platform-sharing cousins at a time when many automakers are dropping out of the sedan segment altogether.

With the Hyundai Sonata also participating in this year's competition, judges tried to find the differences between both (besides the sheet metal). "There was a spell when their products were very different from one another, but after getting out of the Sonata N-Line and into the K5 GT, the lines are increasingly blurred," features editor Christian Seabaugh said.

Although the Kia K5 and Hyundai Sonata drive similarly to each other, the differences were more notable inside. Our top-of-the-line K5 EX came with heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a 10.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a panoramic sunroof. When compared to the Sonata SEL Plus, which is a trim below the fancy Sonata Limited, the K5 EX misses some important features, such as a digital instrument cluster and the ability to use your smartphone as a key. The "Smaht Pahk" feature that made the Sonata a star during the Super Bowl is also not available in the K5. But with a $32,355 price tag, this K5 EX offered a lot of bang for the buck.

We had mixed opinions when it came to the interior styling. Some judges preferred the K5 and its traditional shifter, but others liked the Sonata's airy cabin, a result of its compact button shifter. "As much as I like the fake wood trim and the different dash, I don't think the K5's styling will age well," Motortrend Buyer's Guide director Zach Gale said. On the other hand, editor-in-chief Mark Rechtin preferred the K5's driver-oriented center console: "Everything is within easy reach."

Although the K5 brings significant changes to Kia's midsize sedan, it didn't have enough to move the needle for our editors. And even though it stands out among the competition in terms of design and optional powertrains, it continues to be overshadowed by the Accord (and perhaps even the Sonata).



Kia Niro PHEV Review: Old-School Hybrid With Old-School Issues

The verdict

The Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid’s efficiency, practicality and utility are outweighed by its unpleasant driving experience.

Versus the competition

Newer, next-generation plug-in hybrids are here, and they feel far more refined than the Niro PHEV while offering up competitive technology, comfort and, in some cases, superior range — not to mention all-wheel drive.

I was about 5 miles into my first spin behind the wheel of a 2020 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid when I realized this was not going to be a pleasant motoring experience. Those 5 miles made me realize just how much electric and plug-in vehicles have improved in the past decade. Gone from most of the market’s electrified vehicles are those artificial-feeling brakes, numb steering, odd powertrain noises and nonlinear, jerky, odd acceleration and deceleration qualities. “Most” is the operative word here, though, as I’ve apparently found one vehicle that hasn’t gotten the memo yet — the Niro Plug-In Hybrid. This crossover-style wagon has a few issues in terms of how it drives and performs, but if it’s as efficient as it seems to be and provides a decent amount of occupant room and cargo space, is that enough to overcome its driving deficiencies?

What’s It Packing?

The Kia Niro comes in three flavors: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicle, the difference being the size of battery pack each car has and how far it can drive in electric-only mode. The hybrid has no plug-in ability and operates much like any other hybrid out there, while the EV has no gasoline motor to help it recharge on the go, meaning it operates only in electric mode. The PHEV version is kind of the best of both worlds — it operates first and foremost in electric mode but uses its onboard gas engine to keep the vehicle moving and recharge the batteries when they’re depleted. Plus, it provides extra propulsion even when they aren’t. The PHEV version can also be plugged in to refill the battery, allowing you to drive in electric mode using land-generated power instead of electricity created by the onboard engine.

The Niro PHEV is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a 60-hp electric motor for a total system rating of 139 hp and 195 pounds-feet of torque. The system is mated to something rare in a hybrid — an actual automatic transmission. In this case, it’s a six-speed dual-clutch unit. It’s far more common to have a hybrid employ a continuously variable automatic — to more easily make use of the mixing of gasoline and electric propulsion methods — but Kia’s gone for something different here, and it doesn’t work that well. The six-speed transmission does not shift smoothly, especially under deceleration, and seems to be at odds with the electrified gasoline powertrain. The engine and electric motor combination is also less than adequate: Acceleration is slooooow, without any of the zippiness one usually finds in cars with electrified powertrains.

The Niro PHEV feels heavy and ponderous whether you keep it in EV-only mode or allow it to mix in some gasoline-sourced propulsion. It behaves like an old-school hybrid, one from the days in which automakers were still ironing out the interaction and function of hybrid systems. Putting the Niro into Sport mode does not help matters; the brakes are terrible, with an artificial, nonlinear feel. The last 10 feet of any stop sees the mechanical brakes grab with sudden bite, causing head-bobbing among occupants regardless of how carefully and smoothly one tries to bleed off speed. The regenerative braking function has a few settings, controlled by the paddle shifters in normal mode (Sport mode turns them back into gear selectors). The most aggressive regen mode is far too aggressive, again causing passenger discomfort when the driver lifts off the accelerator, while the mildest setting doesn’t seem to do much.

The car doesn’t ride or handle well, either, weighing about 3,400 pounds and featuring slow, highly boosted steering and a stiff ride that transmits a lot of bumps and noise into the cabin. In short, the Niro PHEV simply isn’t a pleasant car to drive.

Scores Points on Practicality

So if it’s not particularly pleasant, does the Niro PHEV at least make up some ground on practicality or efficiency? Yes, it does. Being a plug-in hybrid means it can operate in electric mode for a limited distance before needing to employ its onboard gas engine to keep going, allowing drivers to get to a charging station to refill the battery. It can also use that gas engine to add additional propulsive force (so if you’re in EV mode and floor the accelerator, it’ll add some grunt to the mix) to maintain a certain level of charge on the battery while cruising, or even to recharge the battery while you’re driving. I took the Niro on my traditional plug-in-hybrid testing loop to see how far it would go on electricity alone, starting with a full battery and driving mixed urban streets in EV mode with the climate control off and the windows up until the gas engine kicked on — no hypermiling, just driving normally and smoothly, sticking to posted speed limits.

The Niro PHEV is rated to go 26 miles on electricity only, then topping out at a total range (gas engine included) of 560 miles (assuming the EPA’s gas-only fuel economy rating of 48/44/46 mpg city/highway/combined). My test saw the Niro PHEV best that number, delivering 32.8 miles of observed electric range before the gas engine kicked on — a 26% improvement over what the EPA said the car would achieve. Recharging the fairly small 8.9-kilowatt-hour battery from a household 120-volt outlet should take about nine hours, according to Kia, or 2.5 hours on a more powerful 240-volt charger. (DC fast charging is not an option on the Niro PHEV.) So yes, it does have the expected plug-in hybrid chops, allowing most people to commute electrically the majority of the time and giving drivers options as to how they’d like to allocate power — either maintaining the battery charge by using the gas engine, recharging the battery en route, or draining the battery every time they drive and recharging it at home.

Utility Is Strong, Comfort Is Mixed

The Niro’s practicality isn’t limited to its hybrid efficiency; it genuinely works as a small compact SUV. There’s plenty of occupant space up front and in back, with more than adequate backseat legroom. Cargo room is also surprisingly plentiful, as the batteries for the hybrid system don’t intrude much into that space. Headroom is also plentiful, and the seats are decently sized and supportive. It works quite well as a small family crossover in terms of roominess, efficiency and utility.

Its comfortable seats, though, are tempered by the fact that ride quality is only mediocre, with a lot of bumps and noise transmitted into the cabin. In fact, noise is one of the more troublesome aspects of the Niro PHEV — and not just road and wind noise, but noises the car generates. It feels like it’s always dinging or beeping at you: the moaning low-speed noise all EVs are required by law to broadcast as a warning to sight-impaired pedestrians, the beeping when you shift into Reverse, the welcome noise, the shut down noise, the warnings. The appeal of a quiet EV is never met with the Niro.

The interior design is also quite good when it comes to the buttons, switches and multimedia system. Kia and its sister brand Hyundai have the secret to a good multimedia system, and while the one in the Niro PHEV might not be Kia’s latest and greatest, it’s still miles better than most. It’s accompanied by plenty of dedicated buttons that are big, easy to locate while driving and very complete. The voice commands are questionable in their function, however: Asking the car to change the radio to SiriusXM’s NPR channel somehow got me navigation directions to the nearest Pier 1 outlet.

At Least It’s Cheap(ish)

The Niro comes in several versions at several prices for the 2020 model year. A plain, basic Niro hybrid starts at a not-inconsiderable $25,710 including destination, while the base Niro PHEV starts at $30,610 and the Niro EV begins at a hefty $40,210. (That said, plug-in models may be eligible for federal or local rebates or tax advantages.) My specific test car was a Niro PHEV EX Premium, which comes nearly loaded for $37,510, with options limited to paint color, cargo accessories and mats. My as-tested price was $38,085 before any tax credits.

Stacking the Niro PHEV up against a proper competitor is not easy given few other plug-in hybrids offer the same body style as the Niro — a tall sort-of-crossover, sort-of-SUV, sort-of-wagon. The closest competitor might be the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, which went all plug-in for the 2018 model year and starts at nearly $5,000 more than the Niro PHEV. The Subaru does have a few advantages, however, such as standard AWD and Subaru’s standard safety systems, but it doesn’t achieve the Niro’s range, with only 17 miles EV-only and 480 miles overall.

Two plug-in hybrid SUVs are available for 2020, one from Ford and one from Toyota. The 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid PHEV is front-drive only, as is the Niro PHEV, and starts a little more than $3,500 higher than the Niro PHEV. It features more interior space and greater range: 37 miles EV and 530 miles overall. Another AWD option is the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, which has a range of 42 miles EV and a bladder-busting 600 miles overall — but costs a whopping $8,600 and change over the base price of a Niro PHEV.

There are better plug-in choices than the Niro PHEV these days. It feels a generation behind many of its hybrid and plug-in contemporaries in terms of powertrain refinement, and its practicality, efficiency and utility sadly don’t outweigh its general unpleasantness to drive.



Tested: Kia K5 GT-Line Draws Closer to Excellence

With striking style and an upscale interior, Kia's new mid-size sedan is some chassis refinement away from rivaling the leaders in its class.

Children don't sketch SUVs in study hall and car designers don't spend years in school working their way up to ­studio boss to figure out how to draw a grille and headlights on a potato. The designers we know dream of penning performance cars, and while the 2021 Kia K5 isn't exactly that, it definitely looks like one.

"Longer and lower with a wider track" sounds like a Chevy ad from the '50s, but those descriptors belong to Kia's mid-size sedan, too. Compared with the Optima it replaces, the K5 measures two inches longer and nearly an inch lower and has an extra 0.8 inch between the tires. The proportions and design yield a striking car that belies its front-drive layout, the $24,455 starting price. We drove a GT-Line model with an asking price of $27,955, but a mechanically identical EX went to the test track and that's where the numbers came from. Aesthetes who find the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry too common might not turn their noses up at the K5.

While the styling pleases eyes, the K5 is satisfying in many other ways. The base engine is a 180-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four shared with the Sonata, and it's paired to an eight-speed automatic—no rubber-band CVT here. Shifts are smooth and quick, and the right gears are called up without any fuss. Low-end torque feels more abundant than its peak of 195 pound-feet at 1500 rpm indicates, and the turbo makes itself felt right away. Stomp it and the K5 gets to 60 in 7.0 seconds.

Venture beyond 5000 rpm and the engine moans, something you won't hear in an Accord. Driven more sedately, the K5 hums 67 decibels of sound into the cabin at 70 mph. All GT-Line and EX models have the same suspension tuning as the base K5, but they use 18-inch wheels with wider Pirelli all-season tires than the entry trim's 16s. Sharp impacts expose a lack of isolation. While not a deal breaker, it's worth noting that an Accord sops up the same hits with less coarseness. It's likely the shorter sidewalls of the 18-inch wheels and the one-size-fits-all tuning are to blame. The steering is both unerringly stable at highway speeds and deft and responsive when you're sawing through a canyon road or interesting on-ramp.

A radically angled windshield lends a sports-car mood to the driving experience, and the seating position is excellent. Rear-seat space is generous and comfortable. A 10.3-inch touchscreen is available on some trim levels, but the GT-Line comes with an 8.0-inch screen. Both sprout out of the dash and are flanked by physical buttons that make switching between functions easy. The instrument panel has a BMW-ness to it, and material quality throughout the cabin is good. Apple and Android phone mirroring is wireless on all models with the stand­ard 8.0-inch infotainment screen, but strangely, you'll need a cable if you upgrade to the 10.3-incher.

The K5 inches closer to the Accord's ability to deliver everyday joy. A bit of suspension tuning to increase isolation and refinement would give it the manners to match its designer looks.


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