2019 Kia K900 Debuts, Does Its Damndest to Get Noticed

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

“Hey, what are you doing with my car?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought this was my Kia K900.”

That’s the scene Kia Motors wants to see play out in parking lots across America, now that the second generation of the brand’s flagship has seen the spotlight at the New York International Auto Show.

On sale later this year, the 2019 K900 — which sounds like the name of a Soviet submarine — aims to attract the buyers its predecessor lacked through understated style, piles of luxury features, attractive interior fittings, and improved driving dynamics. Kia’s an eternal optimist, we’ll give it that.

Despite a full-size sedan segment that looks to be well on its way to oblivion, Kia isn’t about to abandon it just yet. The automaker wants to be remembered for building an all-around good luxury car, not just a decent luxury car with a mushy suspension. Top-down change was in order.

For 2019, the K900 adopts the brand’s “Gravity of Prestige” design ethos, a term that makes this author think of Charles de Gaulle.

Now sporting “duplex” headlamps flanking a “Quadric pattern” grille and a smoother, tauter-looking profile, the K900 is slightly longer and wider than the first-generation model. Formerly a rear-drive car, Kia decided the K900 should go all-wheel drive permanently. So, it has. Sending power to all four wheels is the same 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 found under the hood of the Kia Stinger GT and vehicles sold by the Genesis brand. Gone is the optional 5.0-liter V8, but few will mind. Output of the smooth V6 is a robust 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque, managed by an eight-speed automatic.

Those looking to get the most out of the car’s rear-biased AWD and stiffer architecture can select from four drive modes (Comfort, Eco, Sport or Custom), but we’ve got a hunch most drivers will choose what’s behind door number one.

Inside, Nappa leather fills the cabin, with buyers choosing from one of four open pore wood trims. Some trees were harmed in the making of this sedan. Sound comes by way of a 17-speaker Harman Kardon/Lexicon audio system that Kia claims is its most powerful to date.

The touchscreen can’t be missed — it’s a 12.3-inch unit spanning the top of the center stack. A customizable digital instrument panel of the same width awaits drivers who check that option box, and there’s an available 9.7 inch head up display (HUD) if you’re really looking for information overload. Smack dab between the front seat occupants is a Maurice Lacroix-designed analog clock with Roman numerals, perfect for creating a timeless ambiance.

Driver assist features span the gamut, with forward and rear emergency braking among the many safety aids. Suffice it to say, this rig comes off the line fairly loaded. We won’t know the pricing until closer to its on-sale date.

Kia wants to appeal to buyers who appreciate road manners and bargain appointments, not just the latter. The brand plays up the new K900’s roadholding prowess and its efforts to banish NHV issues. Having driven the second-gen K900’s Genesis G90 platform mate, this author can attest to that model’s quality and ride — it’s a damn good car. Whether buyers take notice remains to be seen.

[Images: Kia Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Chiefmonkey Chiefmonkey on Apr 02, 2018

    I guess this all started with the Amanti lol.I don't think this is a horrible looking car but I don't see much of a market for it. Even the livery people would probably prefer to stick to what they know and get a Caddy or Lincoln...

  • Bd2 Bd2 on Apr 02, 2018

    The interior seems to be a nice place to be, but geeze, that exterior is just bland, bland, bland. Well, guess it makes sense since its largest market will be the Korean business executives.

  • 3SpeedAutomatic At this time, GM had a "Me Too" attitude towards engine development:[list][*]the Euro luxury brands have diesels, so can we via an Olds V8[/*][*]variable value timing, welcome to the brave new world of Cadillac V8-6-4[/*][*]an aluminum block V8 engine via the HT4100, the go-go 80's[/*][*]double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, no sweat, just like the Asian brands via NorthStar. [/*][/list]When you mindset is iron block and cast iron heads, life if easy. However, each time, GM failed to understand the nuances; intricate differences; and technical difficulty in each new engine program. Each time, GM came away with egg on its face and its reputation in ruin.If you look today, the engines in most Cadillacs are the same as in many Chevrolets. 🚗🚗🚗
  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
  • Rover Sig "Value" is what people perceive as its worth. What is the worth or value of an EV somebody creates out of a used car? People value different things, but for a vehicle, people generally ascribe worth in terms of reliability, maintainability, safety, appearance and style, utility (payload, range, etc.), convenience, operating cost, projected life, support network, etc. "Value for money" means how much worth would people think it had compared to competing vehicles on the market, in other words, would it be a good deal to buy one, compared to other vehicles one could get? Consider what price you would have to ask for it, including the parts and labor you put into it, because that would affect the “for the money” part of the “value for money” calculation. An indicator of whether people think an EV-built-in-a-used-car would provide "value for money" is the current level of demand for used cars turned into EVs. Are there a lot of people looking for these on the market? Or would building one just be a hobby? Repairing an existing EV, bringing it back into spec, might create better value for the money. Although demand for EVs is reportedly down recently.