“What is in a name?” asked Shakespeare. When it comes to an automotive nameplate, the answer is: a lot. Manufacturers invest tidy fortunes to build up recognition for a brand or model, and don’t walk away from a good one without a very good reason.
So, we were surprised when word leaked out that the automaker’s time-tested Optima badge was going to be dropped in favor of the K5 nomenclature. True, it’s a name used in a variety of markets – and hints that the replacement for the little Forte may eventually be redubbed the K3 – but Kia had to have good reason to want to effectively start all over again the costly process of building awareness for the newly renamed midsize sedan.
Overview: In this era of SUVs, some manufacturers have decided to walk away from the sedan segment. That’s just fine, at least as far as Korea’s smaller mainstream brand is concerned. If anything, it is intent on capturing a growing share of a shrinking but still huge market. And the new 2021 Kia K5 would seem to be precisely the car to pull it off.
The midsize model builds on what was already an attractively styled Optima, while adding plenty of new features – including, for the first time, all-wheel-drive – and enhancing the familiar Kia value equation. Equally significant, the K5 moves a big step forward when it comes to ride and handling, a traditional weakness for the brand.
Exterior: Kia fans won’t be shocked by the looks of the new K5 which, if anything, builds on the best of the brand’s styling details. Up front, for example, there’s now a broader, lower-profile take on the familiar “tiger nose” grille that enhances the car’s perceived width and gives it a more solid and planted feel. The look is enhanced by the new, slit-like, multi-element headlamps and Z-shaped running lights framing the grille.
… The overall look clearly borrows from the striking Kia Stinger, with a steeply raked windshield flowing into a coupe-like roofline …
Subtle details provide a more upscale appearance than the price tag might suggest, including the curvaceous accent line that follows the doors, carrying through to the rear decklid. The look is completed by a well-appointed cross-bar taillight set up.
Kia dropped off two different trim levels of the 2021 K5 for us to drive: the GT and more mainstream EX. Each features a handful of distinctive detailing, such as the GT’s more sporty grille and faux front air intakes.
Interior: As with the exterior, there are some notable differences, depending upon trim levels. The GT, for example, gets a unique, flat-bottomed steering wheel. Our tester complemented the piano black dominating the instrument panel with a textured gray finish where our EX opted for faux wood trim.
With both, however, the Kia K5 is clearly an upgrade from the outgoing Optima. Both testers had the upgraded 10.3-inch touchscreen display available for 2021. The base screen measures 8 inches.
Despite the sweeping roofline, there is plenty of headroom, both front and back, and the seating is more than comfortable enough for extended driving. Meanwhile, dual-zone climate controls enhance the driving experience for driver and passenger.
Powertrain: Kia cut back with K5. Where there were three options with the old Optima, the new sedan starts with an updated version of the outgoing model’s 1.6-liter turbo-four. It now makes 180 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque and is paired with a new eight speed automatic normally driving the front wheels. But there’s also a new all-wheel-drive system that clearly is meant to keep buyers in cold weather climes from migrating to SUVs and CUVs.
The 2021 Kia K5 GT will feature the most significant upgrade on the powertrain front. Where the old Optima offered a turbo-2.0-liter package making 245 hp and 260 lb-ft, the GT gets an exclusive 2.5-liter turbo-four bumping the numbers to 290 and 311, respectively.
Technology and Safety: One of the odder moves with the new K5 was not the use of two different-sized touchscreens but the fact that only the 8-inch display makes use of the new, wireless versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
… Bring a cable if you have the larger display – though its size alone is a plus and it does get the next-generation version of UVO, Kia’s connected car system …
Meanwhile, there are plenty of USB ports scattered around the vehicle. Qi wireless charging is available on some trim levels, standard on the EX line.
On the safety front, the K5 offers a reasonable level of standard equipment, depending on trim level. That starts with forward collision warning with automated emergency braking and lane keeping assist, though blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are optional on the base LX trim.
There are a number of intriguing options, such as adaptive cruise control with lane tracing. Oddly, the GT is the only model offered with stop-and-go capabilities added to its adaptive cruise. That system also will adjust speed as you enter a corner based on data from the navigation system.
Like so many automakers, Kia is moving towards an autonomous future, and its optional system does a reasonably good job of maintaining both speed and lane position without bouncing back and forth off the white lines. It is certainly not a hands-free technology but compares well to what some other carmakers have come up with.
Drive Impressions: There’s no question the 2021 Kia K5 is a big improvement over the old Optima. The car’s upgraded suspension largely soaks up the bumps and yet holds reasonably flat in corners. That stable ride is all the more noticeable with the GT model which also has the advantage of the new 2.5-liter engine.
If we have any single complaint about the K5, however, it’s steering. The system is itself an improvement over the Optima, reasonably precise with a good on-center feel. But it is significantly over-boosted. That might be acceptable to EX-trim customers, but it is downright disappointing on the K5 GT. We really want less boost and more road feel. It is by no means a deal-breaker but it should be much more like the sporty Stinger than what Kia came up with.
Wrap Up: With a base price of $24,455 – including delivery fees – the 2021 Kia K5 is, on the whole, an impressive successor to the old Optima. It offers lots of features and, even with a fully loaded EX or GT, with the price tag pushing above $30,000, you get a great deal for the money.
The new AWD system should appeal to buyers who prefer sedan styling to a boxy SUV, and the GT offers good power with its bigger engine.
We wish the new K5 offered a bit more of a dynamic driving experience, its over-boosted steering the car’s single big flaw. But, on the whole, we think the new offering will find a ready place in the sedan segment.
See 2021 Cadillac Escalade Get Driven With Blocked Windshield
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade test units are out and about, and first drives have already been orchestrated. A handful of journalists and YouTubers have started pouring out content about the full-size luxury SUV. That includes us with our Escalade First Drive Review.
The Fast Lane, however, took a different route and made videos that are out of the ordinary. We’ve seen the channel do some off-roading with the Escalade, something owners won’t probably do when they get their hands on one.
This time, The Fast Lane Truck does a review with the Escalade’s bevy of tech toys. And as crazy as you would expect from the channel, the folks there tried to drive the SUV with a blocked windshield and front windows. How? By using the Escalade’s VR function displayed on the instrument panel. The resulting video was bonkers, which you can watch on top of this page.
Speaking of, the driver was able to go around the course without issues, twice even, and you can see in the video that he even reached speeds of up to 60 miles per hour (97 kilometers per hour) before coming to a halt.
Before you raise your pitchforks, let us all be reminded that TFL Trucks did the test on a close course, so the test looked safe. Although as expected, both the driver and his passenger felt queasy after the virtual drive. But overall, at least now we know that you can still drive the new Escalade even if your windshield got broken – so as long as the front camera’s intact.
See the full crazy test on video and let us know what you think through the comments section below.
Fancy Acer Book RS By Porsche Design Comes With Carbon Fiber Cover
Porsche RS models are revered for their performance both on and off the race track, as they are admired for their flurry of carbon fiber materials. Porsche Design is back with another collaboration to showcase its styling prowess – this time it’s with Acer and its latest laptop.
Named the Porsche Design Acer Book RS, this fancy laptop signifies a new partnership between the two brands, something that fuses Porsche Design’s functional design philosophy and engineering mindset with Acer’s technological innovations and deep-rooted knowledge in the global computer segment.
The high-end notebook comes with a minimalist design, but a closer inspection reveals a 3k carbon fiber cover, striking a contrast against the diamond-cut CNC-machined chassis. With the use of this lightweight material normally used for race cars, the entire Acer Book RS only weighs 2.76 pounds (1.25 kilograms) while only measuring 0.63 inches (15.99 millimeters) thin.
Underneath the classy body, the Porsche Design Acer Book RS is equipped with the latest 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processors with Intel Iris Xe graphics and optional discrete NVIDIA GeForce®MX350 GPUs and 16 GB of RAM. The 14-inch FHD IPS3 touchscreen is covered with a layer of Antimicrobial4 Corning Gorilla Glass with an immersive 90% screen-to-body ratio.
The Porsche Design Acer Book RS will be available in North America with a starting price of $1,399.99. A premium package, which comes with equally great-looking accessories such as premium package i7 notebook, travel pack, and mouse, will be priced at $1,999.99. This chic Acer laptop will also be available in Europe and in China.
This isn’t the first time that Porsche designed a gadget. Back in 2018, a Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS came into fruition, which had a price tag that started at $1,800.
GMC Hummer EV’s WTF Mode Does A Weird Song And Dance Before Launching
First thing’s first. What the heck is Watts to Freedom? In short, it’s the GMC Hummer EV version of Tesla’s Ludicrous Plus launch mode, both in function and in its gimmicky nature. What does that mean? Ludicrous refers to Ludicrous speed from the classic 1987 Sci-Fi spoof Spaceballs. Meanwhile, the acronym for GMC’s Watts To Freedom is WTF, and we’re sure you know what else that stands for. But wait, there’s more
Engage WTF mode in the recently revealed GMC Hummer EV, and you won’t just launch to 60 mph in three seconds. For starters, the truck will hunker down a couple of inches before putting its GM-estimated 1,000 horsepower (735 kilowatts) to the ground. That’s a functional component of going fast, but less functional are the sounds that emanate from the Hummer EV’s speakers and animations that pop up on its digital screens.
GMC doesn’t offer a specific description of what this means, but the B-roll footage below takes us through the process starting at the 28-second mark. Once activated, a low-pitch humming sound reverberates through the speakers, and a snazzy animation on the main screen morphs to a third-person view of a Hummer EV poised on a space-themed runway. Meanwhile, the dash displays “Watts To Freedom” with stars and bars, along with a message that advises “repeated usage will cause accelerated wear on vehicle.” The driver can choose cancel or let’s go, which isn’t quite as catchy as I want my mommy or bring it on but hey, you get the point.
Selecting let’s go puts the system into motion. The truck lowers (which is also shown on the instrument display) and the driver is eventually prompted to press the brake and accelerator. This is the interactive part, as the driver must brake hard enough to get the all-important green checkmark to then floor it, all while the sound increases in both intensity and annoyance.
With the pedals mashed and the Hummer EV ready, release the brake and it’s off to the races. Presumably, drivers will be concentrating on the road while sprinting to 60 mph, so they won’t see the mini starfield flashing on the digital instrument board next to the speed readout. However, everyone will hear what sounds like the USS Enterprise going to warp speed through the speakers. At least it’s more pleasant than the low-resonance buzzing that starts it all off.
Is the GMC Hummer EV fast? Yes, it certainly is. However, experiencing all the pomp and circumstance that’s not at all similar to Tesla’s various quirky Easter eggs could easily be considered gimmicky in the best of circumstances. We’re at least curious to try it all in person as opposed to seeing a close-up on a video, but we suspect these aspects of WTF Mode might have more than a few people asking WTF GMC was thinking with all this.
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