2021 Kia K5: Luxury car styling for an economy car pricing

My 2021 Kia K5 press car is the best value sedan I have driven in a long time. You can get one for about $23,000 ,and if you hide the Kia badges, you would almost think you are driving a small Audi. On the exterior, you have well sculpted lines reminiscent of a fastback sedan.

Under the hood is a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic. Acceleration is adequate for everyday driving with 180 horsepower and 195 pounds of torque. However, if you feel the need for speed, a “GT” version of the K5 is coming next month with a 290 horsepower 2.5L Turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine. This is promising to out run most European entry-level luxury vehicles.

The interior of the K5 offers a driver centric cockpit, with faux wood trim and aluminum. My press car also had faux leather on the seats and steering wheel, but the material felt convincingly real. The K5 is also available with both heated and ventilated front seats, as well as a panoramic sunroof to keep you at the optimal temperature at all times.

The Kia K5 is available with the near standard issue drive safety technology, such as auto emergency braking technology, lane keep assist, blind spot collision avoidance and electronic stability control. As a driving enthusiast, most of these items are annoying when you want to fully control the vehicle, however these options should significantly reduce your insurance premium.

The only true fault I could find with the car is its infotainment center. It was very beautiful to look at, especially the radio app, but the interface was terrible to use. With a price tag of less than 30,000 for a fully equipped model, I can’t complain too much. Anything else this good looking overall would cost you $5,000 to $10,000 more.

The 2020 Corvette Is The Only Super Car You Need

It is weird to think of the Corvette as a super car, especially considering the $60,000 starting price tag. But every bit of it delivers a super car experience. The engine has been moved to the middle, with nearly 500 horsepower placed behind the seats. The engineers did this to improve weight distribution, which affects cornering abilities and traction when accelerating off the line. Chevrolet redesign the Corvette for the 2020 model year with a clean slate. The only part carried over was a simple latch for the coupe’s removable roof panel. With two turns of the wrist and a little muscle to remove a carbon fiber body panel, you can transform the coupe into a targa.

C8 vs C7 Corvette

During my one-week test with the new 2020 Corvette (C8 Generation), I also had the privilege of driving last year’s Corvette (C7 Generation) for a day. In terms of looks, you can tell that both cars came from the same family, but that is it. The driving dynamics are drastically different. The C7 Corvette felt raw, with a loud exhaust and a bumpy ride. You really have to work the C7 when going around a corner fast to keep it on the road. In contrast, the C8 Corvette felt elegant and refined. The exhaust on the C8 in its loudest setting is quieter than the C7 in its quietest setting. The ride quality is superb in comparison to the C7 at mitigating bumps in the road. And while smashing the accelerator at a stoplight in the C8 isn’t quite as dramatic as the C7, the C8 Corvette accelerates much faster (2.9 seconds vs 3.7 second) despite having only slightly more horsepower. This is primarily because the mid-engine design puts more weight on the rear, thus delivering more grip to those wheels. While going around a tight corner fast, the C8 Corvette delivers immersive grip with loads of driver confidence. This is in part due to better weight distribution, as well as improved aero to create more downforce. Do I dare say that the C8 Corvette is the first Corvette that actually handles well? Both of the vehicles used for this test comparison were similarly equipped with the Z51 performance package.

The interior of the C8 Corvette was also immensely more refined than the C7 Corvette. Gone are the cheap plastics. They have been replaced with high quality plastic, aluminum, carbon fiber, and leather components if you get the 2LT and 3LT trim levels. The seats in my test car were the upgraded GT2 seats. They were very comfortable, while also supportive for high speed driving. I took a day trip in the car, and I felt just as fresh stepping out of the vehicle as I was getting into it.

The New Corvette vs The Super Car World

For over 50 years, the Corvette was America’s sports car, competing against the Porsche 911 from Germany, the Jaguar E/F-Type from England, and the Toyota Supra from Japan. It was always considered one of the best performance bargains. But now that the engine has been moved to the middle like a super car, and it has around 500 horsepower, the 2020 Corvette arguably no longer competes in the Sports Car Market.

It has moved up to the Super Car segment, alongside the Audi R8, Acura NSX, Lamborghini Huracan, McLaren 720S, and Ferrari F8. The biggest difference between these pedigree super cars and the 2020 Corvette is price. All but the Corvette have a purchase price north of $200,000 with options. I speak from experience when I say it is nerve wrecking to park a $300,000+ car at the grocery store. As the custodian of weekly press cars, or even with my personal car, I cringe at the thought of an aluminum door getting dented by a lazy parker. Whereas a well optioned Corvette can be had for less than $100,000. At that price, I can drive the Corvette without fear. I don’t have to coddle the car, worried that a single scratch could cost thousands to get repaired. Also, the Corvette’s body is primarily made from fiberglass. So the body won’t easily dent like it would on an aluminum car.

The Corvette’s driving experience feels very much akin to its super car brothers. Its nimble handling turns in razor sharp. However the steering feels a bit dull when compared to the Audi R8, Acura NSX, and Ferrari 488 GTB. The Corvette feels just as well balanced though. I speak from experience having driven all three of those cars in the past month. However, it is not nearly as thrilling as the Ferrari to drive. The Corvette lacks cinema in comparison to the Ferrari, from the monument you start the car to the second you park it. In comparison to the Audi R8 and Accura NSX, it feels different, but just as special behind the wheel for half of the price.

In terms of performance, the Corvette is on the lower end of the comparative spectrum: The Ferrari F8 has 710 horsepower. The Audi R8 has 611 horsepower. The McLaren 720S has 710 horsepower. The Acura NSX has 573 horsepower. The Lamborghini Huracan has 630 horsepower. The 2020 Corvette Stingray only has 495 horsepower. Technically it is way down on horsepower versus its super car competition, however it will still do 0 to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. If you really NEED more power, stay tuned for Z06 and ZR1 versions of the Corvette. Both of these variants will surely still be less than the cost of any other modern super car.

Also, ff you like attention, you are going to love the 2020 Corvette Stingray. It is a new radical design, so the average person will think it is a Ferrari. I got that comment at a gas station more than once in a single week. And car enthusiasts will give you thumbs up, because you are among the first to spend your money wisely. I can’t think of a better way to spend $60,000 on a sports car, strike that… a super car.

Power Up to the High Performance 2.3L Ford Mustang Convertible

If you can’t afford (or handle) the GT350 or the GT500, the regular Ford Mustang GT is undoubtably the weekend car to get. All three variants feature an overhead cam V8s the melts your soul at each press of the gas pedal. The only problem is that all three GT cars don’t make great daily drivers. Not because they are uncomfortable, but because all three engines are thirsty. You may remember reading one of my previous stories where I did a cross country road trip in a Mustang GT. It was fun, but pocketbook wasn’t happy.

Fuel economy is where the 4-cylinder 2.3L variant of the Mustang shines. You can drive all day long on a single tank of gas. Unfortunately, I never thought the base 2.3L really deserved the Mustang badge. Every instance behind the wheel was underwhelming. And up until now, I missed the previous generation’s naturally aspirated aluminum V6 engine with 300hp.

But now there is a new turbocharged 4-cylinder motor in town, and it is called the High Performance 2.3L. Same 305 pounds of torque, but it has 20 more horsepower thanks to a larger twin-scroll turbocharger. It also comes with a larger radiator, a stiffer suspension (for better handling), 19” wheels, and adjustable exhaust to accommodate the improved engine performance. The increase to 330 horsepower is noticeable, but the engine also sounds different. It is more muscular and exciting. Not the same as a V8, but a proper engine sound. Drivers have two transmission options: a 10-speed automatic and a 6-speed manual. Thank you Ford for saving the manual. This clutch on the manual is reasonably soft, but tactile enough to feel when the engine catches. Gear shifts are smooth and short.

The convertible version of the High Performance 2.3L Mustang makes a great daily driver due to the balance of performance, fuel economy and comfort. Nothing beats driving around topless on a cool sunny day. However I was slightly disappointed to hear that convertible Mustangs still don’t have a pop-up roll bar. This means that weekend driving enthusiasts can’t use the car for track days. Otherwise, this car is sublime for less than $40k.

2021 Jaguar F-Type: More Refined Than Ever

It is hard not to love the Jaguar F-Type, especially the 2021 F-Type convertible. It has everything you want in a daily driver grand touring car. And now, it is even better: The lines are more sculpted, interior offers large screens, it has better technology, and the car is seemingly more ferocious behind the wheel.

The Jaguar F-Type is in every possible way, a true gentleman’s car. Jaguar is known to be driven by bad boys, but I could just as easily see James Bond driving around in one.

Under the hood of my 2021 test car is a death defying 380 horsepower supercharged V6. However it is also available with a 575 5.0L V8 that will outpace even the most ruthless villains. And to help you drive like the hero of your own James Bond film, it comes with torque vectoring. This F1 derived piece of technology uses a computer to individually control braking at each wheel while going around a corner. The end result is improved control at high speeds.

The interior of the Jaguar F-Type is naturally dressed in leather and aluminum. Cockpit style gauges and controls beautifully wrap around the driver. It creates a very comfortable environment for the driver, no matter if you are cruising along on a country road or sitting in rush hour traffic. Two large displays, one on the dash and one on the center console, provide all of the details needed for a spirited or leisurely drive. Thanks to an even larger infotainment display than the previous generation, you can have two windows open on the screen. This comes in very handy while both navigating and changing the satellite radio station.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Jaguar F-Type’s exhaust note. The roadster sounds as good as it looks. In fact, it sounds better than anything else in its price class, especially the V8. The snarling exhaust, combined with the ease of driving and its magnetic looks make the 2021 Jaguar F-Type one of the best daily driver roadsters that money can buy. Even at the $65,000 starting price tag. However, if you have the coin, the $85,000 V6 or the $105,000 V8 are the better buys.

Testing the Cosmo MuchoMacho on B9 Audi S5

Tires are tires… or so they say. As a young, broke college kid, I dabbled in used tires, and wrapped my wheels in whatever I could find. Paying $300-$400 for high-performance Michelin or Pirelli tires versus paying no more than $50 for a used tire just seemed like a no-brainer. It worked – having a car with three or four different brand tires did the job of getting me around campus, so I didn’t bother putting more thought into it.

It was not until I splurged on upgrading the stock 18 inch wheels on my 120k mile E46 M3 to 19 inch Competition wheels did I actually consider mating new rubber with new wheels. Splurging was splurging, so I went with the tire-shop recommended Toyo Proxies all around, via an aggressive, staggered fitment, 10mm wider than stock in the front and the back. The result? Handling was a thing of beauty, driving was a pleasure, and finally, I started getting the hang of this idea of new vs. used tires, and actually bothering to match all four. Click Here To Continue Reading

The Bolt… It’s Electric!

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

There is no doubt that electric cars are taking over. Tesla started the modern day electric war, but GM was the first to give us an everyday affordable EV – one that you could theoretically use as one an only car.

I want to stress affordable and only car in previous statement, because yes the Nissan Leaf is affordable, but its range is poor. The Leaf will go only go 124 miles per charge. BMW’s and Smart’s options are not any better. The Chevy Bolt on the other hand will go 238 miles per charge. Tesla’s model S will go 335 miles on a charge, but the Tesla costs over twice as much the Bolt: $82,000 versus $36,000.

The Bolt’s range is key to me for being a one car household. The 200+ mile range means that you can drive all over town or to the next town over without having to worry about mobile charging stations. With the Leaf and BMW electric vehicles I tested, I felt range anxiety. Versus with the Bolt, I was able to drive it all week on one charge – and I drive a lot!

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Some may argue the Bolt looks too sci-fi for their tastes, even more so than a Tesla, but shouldn’t a car from the future look high tech. I enjoyed the minimalist design and the use of recycled plastics – it made me feel as if I was doing my part to help the environment. It has that Silicon Valley California vibe, which is a good thing. I could get use to the look…

The only thing I couldn’t get use to was ultra power saving mode. In this mode, you use the accelerator pedal (the gas pedal) to speed up the car by pressing it down as well as slow down the car significantly by lifting off the pedal. In this mode, the regenerative brakes are applied to charge the battery whenever possible – ie when you are not adding accelerating. Luckily you can turn this feature off and drive the Bolt like a normal car with the use both an accelerator pedal and brake pedal.

Visit your local Chevrolet dealer to test a Bolt out yourself or learn more about this all electric vehicle on Chevy’s website.

The Cadillac CT4 V is a grownup’s Camaro

Despite what most of my automotive journalist colleagues say about the 2020 Cadillac CT4 V, the car delivers exact what we need from a Cadillac. On and off-the-record, they have critiqued its performance, styling, and choice of materials. It is easy to say that the Mercedes C43 AMG has a nicer interior or that the BMW M340i has more horsepower, but both of these vehicles’ has a starting price of $10k+ more than the CT4 V. As journalists who are lucky enough to drive a new car every week, we often forget price points… The CT4 V is crazy good for $45,000.

I will be amongst the first to admit that the 2020 CT4 V doesn’t deserve the “V” badge. The legendary ATS V and CTS V were “bad ass” cars. The ATS V produced 464 hp, as much horsepower as a Corvette. The CTS V had a Corvette Z06 motor under the hood pumping out 640 hp. In comparison, the CT4 V only has a wimpy 325 hp 4-cylinder engine. But to redeem your street cred, you can tell your friends that your CT4 V has more horsepower than a Porsche Cayman. And in sport mode, you can just as easily get the rear wheels to loose traction and create a nice little drift. Performance options are enhanced with the Brembo Brake package and Magnetic Ride to control the dampers.

Yes, the interior of the Cadillac CT4 V seems a little simplistic. And yes, the materials used don’t seem quite as luxurious as other cars in its segment. But a fully loaded CT4 V cost less than the base price of its competition. I also thought the infotainment controls are more intuitive than most of its competitors. For instance, there are four different ways to change the radio station – so take your pick between two knobs, touch screen display, or switches. Another plus is that the Cadillac CT4 V comes standard with leather seats, where as it is an upgrade on most Mercedes and BMW vehicles.

Americans want a small sporty sedan for running errands. We want something fuel efficient for sitting in rush-hour traffic. We want a status symbol that lets everyone in the office parking lot know we are a part of the management team. And we don’t want to take out a second mortgage. On all of these fronts, the Cadillac CT4 V delivers. It is a grownup‘s Camaro.

2020 BMW X1 versus Mercedes GLB

I was lucky enough to get a back-to-back sampling of the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLB 250, each for a one week test. Both crossovers represent their respective German luxury automakers’ most affordable SUV offering. Both offer admission to the marque, while also delivering the full brand experience.

For the record: Technically Mercedes’ cheapest SUV offering is the GLA, however the GLA is more of a small station wagon on stilts. Akin to the Audi A4 Allroad. So the GLB is what you want if you want an SUV feel.

Luxury & Style

Both of my test vehicles exuded entry-level luxury, with leather seats and real wood or aluminum trim. However, the fit and finish on the Mercedes GLB was better. The design language felt brand new, and resembled styling from a modern S-Class Mercedes. The exterior felt sculpted. Whereas the BMW, while nice, the design language felt typical of a BMW from 10 years ago. It looks and feels very traditional, which isn’t a bad thing. Winner: Mercedes  Click Here To Continue Reading

The 2020 Range Rover Velar Delivers Even More: Now With Supercharged V8 Goodness

Look out Range Rover Sport, your little sister is getting an upgrade. The Velar is arguably the beauty queen of the Land Rover family. Its perfect proportions and minimalistic styling, make it worthy of a museum piece. Even the door handles pop in and out in order to not detract from its sleek lines. While the Range Rover Velar is a very capable off-road, its fun is better suited to wet or dry tarmacs. Leave it to the regular Range Rover or the Range Rover Sport if you really want to go rock crawling with their locking differentials and low-speed transfer cases.

My test vehicle for this review is the model range topping Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition. It is a brand new trim for the 2020 model year. The biggest standard equipment enhancement is the 5.0 L supercharged V8, which pumps out 550 horsepower and 502 pounds of torque. The engine transforms the Velar from a beautiful SUV, into a beautiful machine that eats sports cars for breakfast. That, combined with lighter wheels and a calibrated 8-speed gearbox, mean that the Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. It sounds absolutely incredible when you smash the gas pedal thanks to a sports-tuned quad exhaust. Click Here To Continue Reading

A Solar Powered Car: The Upcoming 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

To say the upcoming 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is a solar powered car is a bit of a stretch, but I am not that far off. Instead of a traditional sun roof, the pre-production vehicle that I drove for a week featured a large solar panel on the roof. This allows the car to re-charge its batteries while sitting in the hot sun. Effectively allowing you to drive an electric vehicle up to 2-miles per day on solar alone. Hyundai did a great job with this; not only from an engineering side, but from an understated design perspective. It look like a sleek Hyundai sedan from a distance, which I like. Solar powered roof only gets noticed when you closely look at the roof. Click Here To Continue Reading