By on January 26, 2018

Image: Kia Motors

You’re probably picking your toast up off the floor right now, so we apologize for not softening the shock of that headline. But it’s true, and it comes straight from Kia Motors America’s product boss.

The other day, we told you the Korean automaker is poised to announce the production of a bigger, butchier crossover aimed at tempting buyers in the largest utility class. While the looming Telluride soaked up the lion’s share of a Wards Auto interview with Orth Hedrick, Kia’s North American vice president of product planning, a brief mention at the end of the article caught our eye.

According to Wards, Hendrick “hints the [second-generation K900] will be shown at the New York auto show in late March.”

Hey, pick up your toast again!

The thought of a second-gen K900 surprises this author, as the current generation can’t seem to stimulate a sale to save its life. And yet, wildly low volume (to be fair, it’s available in limited markets) hasn’t swayed Kia from plans to field an updated product in a dying segment. A segment in which the K900, introduced in 2014, captures a micron-width slice of market share.

This isn’t meant to bash Kia, it’s just that the decision is perplexing. We inhabit a world where Ford’s considering dropping the high-volume Fusion. Kia needn’t feel like it needs to offer a full-size luxury sedan anymore — the “occupy all segments to be seen as a serious automaker” mantra looks outdated these days. Kia’s proven it can build a luxury car. Still, the Genesis brand awaits anyone looking for a value-laden premium full-sizer hailing from South Korea.

And besides, the Kia Stinger is surely a more significant product — not just for sales, but for brand building. The Stinger has the ability to squash more preconceived notions about the brand than a rarely-seen luxury sedan ever could.

Some 35 Americans brought home a Kia K900 in December 2017. Last year’s U.S. tally of 455 vehicles was nearly half of 2016’s volume, which was just a third of 2015 volume. BMW sold more i8s last year. The seven K900s Canadians bought in 2017 — which was a low point in a model run that’s seen 92 K900s sold over four years — makes it rarer than an albino moose.

Remember, in 2017 Ford sold 209,623 Fusions in what was seen as an awful year for the model.

At what point does having such a slow-selling vehicle in the lineup cast a pall over the brand, or at least leave a smudge? Of course, this assumes people are paying enough attention to even make a joke. There’s no shortage of action in the Kia stable, but the hubbub surrounds the brand’s utility lineup, the Stinger, and the new Forte compact and Rio subcompact. When and if the Telluride gets the green light, there’ll be buzz in that segment, too.

Visually unoffensive, the traditionally styled K900 offers plenty of content and an optional 5.0-liter V8 engine, though early reviewers didn’t appreciate the car’s numb steering and soft suspension. Certainly, LeBron James’ endorsement didn’t lead to anything approaching a sustained sales surge.

In Kia’s homeland, the K9, as it’s called, carries far more prestige. In certain Asian, Middle Eastern, and South American markets, the model bears the Quoris name.

The K900, imported from Korea, doesn’t take up any precious U.S. assembly space — it just occupies a bit of real estate on a boat whenever regional managers send word to head office to ship a few more in their direction. It’s not a pressing issue. We’re just curious as to why Kia Motors America wants a second generation of the model. Certainly, a freshened exterior and improved handling dynamics could stimulate a few more sales in the short term, but why bother? Is it pride? Stubbornness? Something else?

We posed these questions to Kia. Alas, it seems the automaker didn’t want to discuss the K900, as we did not receive a response as of press time.

Expect to see the 2019 Kia K900 debut later this year.

[Images: Kia Motors]

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32 Comments on “Good News, K900 Fans – Kia’s Got a Second-generation Model Ready to Go...”

  • avatar

    The previous gen K900 was uninspiring, especially for the price. To me, it lacked the solidity of the German and even American makes (Caddy), and had overboosted, lifeless steering that gave little confidence at high speed.

    I’m sure I’ll get hate mail for this, but it always seems with the Korean makes that they jam the cars with features so you are distracted from their under engineered platforms (i.e. terrible suspension and steering).

    • 0 avatar

      The K900 is based on an old platform (which doesn’t even offer available AWD) and was really not meant for other markets (was developed for the Korean market).

      It is in every way an “old school” Korean luxury sedan (very similar to an “old school” Buick).

      The chassis which underpins the G80 and G90 is a good one (albeit a bit heavy).

      As for tuning (including steering feel) – a lot of that has to do with the talents of the local engineers as well as what they are going for.

      Kia’s best engineers when it comes to suspension and steering tuning are located in Australia; don’t know why we just don’t get that tuning (at least for the “sporty” trim).

    • 0 avatar

      It needs to have a real name to sell in America. It can’t just have an alphanumeric that just says it’s a big KIA.

  • avatar

    420 hp and 376 ft.-lbs. looked really good until I saw that the car weighs 4,700 lbs. Ouch!

    • 0 avatar

      “up to” 4700lbs, but your point is taken. The Continental has similar power, weighs less, and costs less. Yet, I’m sure the K900 will continue to be proclaimed the budget king.

  • avatar

    Hyundai/Kia seem to be having trouble catching up to just how bad things are for sedans in general and even big expensive sedans.

    The execs should own one to find out. The value of my LS460 has absolutely cratered, well beyond what you’d expect from years 8-10 for a luxosedan, since I bought it. Meanwhile all of the CUVs or SUVs I’ve been looking at to replace it have kept their value as well or better than expected.

    This money would have been far, far better spent on a smaller variant of the Telluride.

    • 0 avatar

      I read that kia and hyundai actually have the longest dev time for a product. In other words, its not that they don’t understand what happens to sedans, but that they can’t change their product mix as fast as other players.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d expect a 10 year old luxury vehicle to be worth about 10% of its new price. Is the Lexus really worth less than that?

    • 0 avatar

      The K900 is primarily for the Korean market where larger luxury sedans still reign supreme.

      For instance, the only market where BMW sold more 5 Series than the Korean market last year was the US (more than Germany, China or Japan).

      Only cost to Kia to import the replacement to the K900 would be federalization.

      That being said, don’t think Kia expects this to be a big seller, probably looking to sell just a few thousand/yr.

      What as hurt the K900 is not having had a “step-up” sedan slotting underneath it, like what the Equus (and now G90) had with the Genesis/G80 (so, if anything, the Stinger should help sales of the K900 replacement).

      Also, the current model sits on an old platform (which has no available AWD) which has an “old school” Buick ride/handling mix (too floaty).

      Being moved to the new platform will allow for a more modern ride/handling mix.

      If the renderings are accurate, a bit disappointed in the direction of the sheetmetal (the front, esp. the headlights, look weird).

      Not a good look if Kia wants to increase sales.

      Regardless, what Kia needs to do is to build a sporty luxury CUV off of the Stinger platform.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    “Soft suspension”. Stop raising my hopes. There hasn’t been a car made with a properly soft suspension since 1994.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep, automotive reviewers need to judge the car based on it’s target market, not their performance bias.

    • 0 avatar

      Depending on how you define “soft”, the last of the Town Cars were nice and cushy up until 2011 with the rear air suspension.

      Another one to look for is the XV20 Camry. Now those were soft…it was almost as if their shocks came blown from the factory.

  • avatar

    I always figured they don’t care about selling K900s, they care about selling optimas. They use the k900s to sell optimas.

    I remember reading an article about Lexus losing like $300k on every LFA sold, but that it helped move cheaper cars.

    There’s 2 theories at play for kia:
    1. the wine theory. No one buys the most expensive wine or the cheapest. Add the K900 and you move people from fortes to optimas and from optimas to Stingers? maybe. Wine companies discovered by adding a more expensive wine, buyers would actually step up to the higher “mid tier”

    2. Kia has a reputation for crap cars, but they really aren’t that bad… so bring in the K900 to challenge that reputation helping sell more Optimas and fortes.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re not crap cars. Nobody really makes crap cars in 2018. But their claim that their cars are better than Jap and American counterparts is overstated.

      • 0 avatar

        Arach may have nailed it. Their goal might be nothing more than improving brand perception.

        EX35, Arach spoke about “reputation”, not reality. I completely agree with you about them being overrated, especially by the automotive press.

  • avatar

    This Kia will survive and the Fusion will not. What does that say about Ford? Soon Ford showrooms will consist of boring squared-off looking trucks and SUVs.

    This is a new low for even Ford. They simply could not compete with Kia.

    Ford sucks sh*t!

    • 0 avatar

      Doesn’t say much of anything about Ford. They didn’t sell hardly any k900s before and that’s unlikely to change.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      “This is a new low for even Ford. They simply could not compete with Kia.”

      There’s an Aspire joke to be made in here somewhere (or at least an ironic observation) but it’s late on a Friday afternoon and the weekend is calling my name.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford should rebadge it and call it Victoria.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah! Stupid Ford building profitable trucks! They can’t even compete with Kia by selling more sedans that they could actually care less about it.

      At least EBFlex has a new screen name. Or another persona to further vent his unhealthy obsession with all things Blue Oval.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I can’t say that I have ever seen a K900 in the wild. The good news, is the 900 or so who bought one the last 3 l years will have something to trade into. This of course, until they are given the trade figure for their existing K900. Which of course will be about $500 higher than a comparably equipped Optima, which they could have bought for half the K900.

    • 0 avatar

      I drove the k9 while cross shopping for full-sized sedan. I also drove it’s cousin from Hyundai, the XTS, and the MKS (Which I bought). The k9 felt like a Fusion I once drove. Ford is making a huge mistake dropping the Fusion while Kia is making a huge mistake keeping the K900.
      But what do I know…

  • avatar
    The ultimate family-friendly hybrid vehicle is finally here.

    It’s not very creative. The grille is Ford, the fender ports are Buick, the rest could have a VW, Ford, Toyota, or half a dozen other badges on it, and almost no one could tell the difference.

    • 0 avatar

      Wrong. You will know the Toyota (or Lexus) as its comically oversized grille inhales the occasional stray cat. Or for the tortured sheetmetal that was fabricated by Edward Scissorhands.

  • avatar

    Kia wants it because Hyundai has the Genesis sedans. Terrible reason, but there it is.

  • avatar

    I love cars like this, because it means there will be an awesomely luxurious, reliable, low-priced used car that hardly anyone but me knows about, and I can pick up a nice ride while the masses pay the same thing for a used Camry or Accord.

  • avatar

    “Good news, K900 fans…”
    Both of us?

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