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Laguna Beach and a 2021 Kia K5 GT-Line AWD - Review by Bruce Hotchkiss +VIDEO

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2021 Kia K5 GT-Line AWD

A road trip down my dusty memory lane

By Bruce Hotchkiss
Special Correspondent
West Coast Bureau

Recently my wife and I took a short trip to Laguna Beach in Southern California, arriving on Sunday afternoon and coming home the following Tuesday. It was kind of a toe-in-the-water as the pandemic winds down. We flew into John Wayne Airport. I was lucky enough to get a press car, a 2021 Kia K5 GT-Line AWD. Yes another Kia, in fact, another K5.

Kia K5 GT-Line AWD trying to hide

The GT-Line AWD differs from the previous K5 in that it has a 1.6-liter turbo engine and All-Wheel-Drive. The 1.6 produces 110 fewer horsepower than the 2.5 liter; that's a big difference. According to published figures the GT-Line is about 2.5 seconds slower to 60 mph (about 7.8 seconds). On the other hand it is rated at 5 mpg better on the highway. You lose some and you gain some. As I didn't drive them back-to-back I can only tell you that the GT-Line didn't embarrass itself.

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2021 Kia K5 GT-Line AWD

I like the K5, it's a good-looking, comfortable sedan. Yet it didn't even get a first look in Laguna Beach! M-Bs were commonplace, and exotic cars roamed freely (and noisily).

The first thing I'll say about Laguna Beach is don't go there on the weekend! The place was packed - bumper-to-bumper traffic on the streets, shoulder-to-shoulder people everywhere, and about zero parking. I'm one of those people who gets 'hangry' so by the time we got checked in to our hotel I was getting cranky. We'd looked up a few restaurants online prior to our trip so we went off in search of sustenance. We ended up at a place called Reunion Kitchen + Drink for drinks and appetizers. The Asian Crispy Ribs were fantastic.

Asian Crispy Ribs

By dinner time we were ready for dessert. Strange thing about getting older, I just can't pack it away like I used to do. We walked to a place called Urth Caffe where we shared a piece of Berries & Cream cake and coffees.

Monday morning we took the K5 out Laguna Canyon Road to Kitchen In The Canyon for a nice breakfast (something I only do on special occasions). Surprise, surprise traffic was very light and the parking was free.

Late morning we walked to the Main Beach Park and relaxed, listening to the ocean.

We skipped lunch - we weren't hungry after breakfast.

Originally we had thought of finding a restaurant overlooking the Pacific for dinner but decided on an Italian place downtown, Alessa by Chef Pirozzi, and we were both glad we did because the food was excellent. And, for Laguna Beach, the prices were moderate!

Tuesday morning we went to the Orange Inn for a light breakfast. Unfortunately, they were only open for take away, but we still got some great pastries.

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Kia K5 GT-Line outside of the Orange Inn

Why did we choose Laguna Beach? We were looking for somewhere to fly into (we had a credit from a canceled flight), and somewhere not too far away. I had fond memories of Laguna Beach from 1984 (another lifetime, I know), so this was the place to go. It was about the same time of year back then, as now (maybe a week later), and I remember it being sunny and hot. It was neither this year.

I do remember that parking was hard to find back then as well, but I don't recall it being so expensive. A meter was $4.50 per hour, one restaurant that we didn't go to was charging $14 for valet parking.

But we had some good times, and I got to drive another Kia K5 for a couple of days. My thanks to Kia and Page One Automotive for setting up the loan of the K5. Thanks to my wife for indulging me on a trip down my dusty memory lane.