By on January 27, 2021

2020 Kia K900. Image: Kia

Say so long to the Kia Cadenza and K900 sedans.

Cause of death: Poor sales secondary to the crossover craze and the existence of the Genesis luxury brand.

The K900 luxury flagship and Cadenza large sedan will be no more following the 2021 model year, but fret not Kia sedan fans — the K5, Forte, and Rio remain. As does the excellent Stinger hatch.

It’s hard to be shocked at the departure of two sedans that sold just 1,570 units — combined — in 2020. Not great, Bob.

Kia’s sibling brand, Genesis, is around to soak up luxo-sedan sales, and the Genesis G90 did 2,072 units in sales alone last year. I’m no mathematical genius, but that’s 502 units more.

What say Kia?

“An important part of our growth as a brand is our ability to understand market conditions and recognize our customers’ needs. To that end, as the auto industry shifts its focus from full-size sedans to SUVs, Kia is poised to succeed with a robust range of utility offerings which includes Telluride, Sorento, Sportage, and Seltos. As we realign our model lineup to meet consumer demands, the K900 and Cadenza will be discontinued for the 2021 model year.”

As some unnamed mobster said after Joe Pesci bought it in Goodfellas — “And that’s that.”

[Image: Kia]

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53 Comments on “Cadenza? We Hardly Knew Ya!...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    This is hardly surprising.

    As far as the Cadenza, the traditional full-size sedan segment is all but dead. The Impala, Taurus and LaCrosse all recently bit the dust, and we know there’s not going to be another 300. The only two that will survive are the Charger and Avalon, and probably not beyond another generation. It’s no surprise that Kia’s forgotten Cadenza/K7 sedan gets taken out back, least of which is because the K5 and Stinger more or less have it covered.

    The K900 is equally unsurprising. As I understand it, the KDM market very much favors homegrown Korean sedans, so something like a high-end Kia makes sense. Here, however, the most it could did was sit on the showroom floor and draw in people who were only ever going to turn around and buy an Optima or Sportage.

    Not only that, it isn’t actually that good of a vehicle.

    The first one (2014-2017) looked like an imitation BMW inside and out, was only available with the thirsty 5.0 V8 at first, and had the handling of a Town Car in that it protested every turn and curve with body roll out the wazoo. That last fact is particularly inexcusable because the Town Car had rear air suspension and a perimeter frame underneath; the K900 was more modern and should have driven better.

    The second-generation K900 drives a lot better, but looks even more anonymous. The exterior seems like something Volkswagen would sell, while the interior still looks like a BMW. It doesn’t have any distinctive styling whatsoever.

    And who is the K900 for, really? If you actually have the dosh for a full-size flagship sedan of this caliber, you want the full experience and panache, which means an A8, S-Class, 7 Series or LS. After all, you don’t need to save money; why not have the best? Kia’s dealership experience is particularly nasty, even for a mainstream brand, and is downright offensive when you’re spending this kind of money. If the K900’s price is closer to the top of your budget, then it’s a tough sell to go for a Kia that everyone will mistake for a 2012 Passat and wonder why you spent $60K on it, and that will drop in value like a rock.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “The exterior seems like something Volkswagen would sell”

      Ouch, and quite true. I’ve never been able to put my finger on the looks of the K900, but you just did.

      Related: The Kia tiger nose has been over-used across the product line. While approaching one on the road, I can’t tell the distinguish between the different models, and I have had a Kia in my driveway for 11 years. A little too much family resemblance, I say.

    • 0 avatar
      Drew8MR

      K900s are an absolute steal on the used market.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “As does the excellent Stinger hatch.”

    The sales of the Stinger probably will not justify a 2nd generation unless they feel the “halo effect” of the vehicle for the brand is worthwhile. But even there you are probably only helping out the Forte.

    The replacement might be a reworked GV70 instead.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I don’t see the point of a reworked GV70 either with the Telluride around. I just don’t think Kia is premium enough for that.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        A GV70-based “Stinger XL” would theoretically be a sporty offering while the Telluride is more after the family/rugged Tahoe set.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I think they’d have better luck selling a sportier GV70 through Genesis. Unfortunately, it’s been proven time and time again that “luxury” offerings don’t sell for Kia, unless we’re talking about high-zoot versions of the Telluride.

          Seems to me the Kia brand is Korean Chevy (or maybe Olds?), not Lexus.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    The rumor among automotive blogs is that the Koreans call the shots-even with Americans in top management positions. Hyundai-in particular has been a revolving door of auto execs. So-everyone knows that selling a premium luxury car within a Hyundai/Kia dealership is futile-you can’t tell the guys in Korea this-or you lose your job. Case in point-bought a new 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe XL Limited AWD. Go in to the finance office and my wife looks at the contract (retired teacher) and the numbers quite don’t add up to what we agreed on. At closer review the Finance Manager tried to put two items on the contract totaling about $600.00 They were for “Nitrogen and Key Fob Insurance”. Just another day at a Hyundai Dealership. The aforementioned items were taken off the contract.

  • avatar
    ajla

    You can’t lose on the key fob insurance though.

  • avatar
    loner

    These things sold so slowly, I saw one with moss growing on it.

    One of the door handles had fallen off too.

    Still, I think a mom, a dad, and their two kids bought it.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    We know a couple that bought a Stinger, and it is a very cool car. I’m starting to see them around in some numbers. Never see a K900, and forget the Cadenza existed.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Kia has no brand identity, no charisma. It’s only considered the lower-budget little brother of Hyundai, which is the lower-budget little brother of all other automakers.
    It’s cars check the boxes, but lack the personality and reputation of Dodge, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, Jeep, Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, et cetera. Brands mean something (even though it’s often something bad). What does “Kia” mean? Pretty much that the buyer couldn’t afford anything better.
    Kia needs to change what image it evokes in the car-shopper’s mind. That is a tough row to hoe.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      RHD-
      Are you aware they are selling $40,000.00plus Tellurides at close to MSRP and they can’t build them fast enough?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Further confirmation of Clown World.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Make that $50k for the SX-P trim.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Selling Tellurides as fast as they make them is fine.
        The Kia name not having cachet in the minds of consumers is a different subject. The company is certainly on the rise, and part of that is giving customers plenty to choose from. The Cadenza, K5, K900 are slow sellers.
        The Sedona is still around, for those who might want it.
        Those who walk into a Kia dealership might find something that they like. The trick is to get them to WANT to go there instead of somewhere else. H/K/G is patiently getting there, trying one thing and another, figuring out what sticks and what falls. (What does America make that looks like the Soul?)
        Now they have found that 7-passenger SUVs get bought by customers. Who could have predicted THAT?!

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Pretty much that the buyer couldn’t afford anything better.”

      I guess that comment from 1990 settles it.

      Last time I bought a car, I cross-shopped Kia, Alfa Romeo, Chevy, Tesla, and Hyundai. I took the Hyundai based upon the test drive, feature set, and other factors – not the price.

      • 0 avatar
        Garrett

        I almost believed you until you said Chevy!

        But seriously, Kia has a few vehicles that do it right – arguably better than Hyundai even – but the thought of having to deal with a Kia dealer gives me hives.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Ha! TBH, it was the first Chevy I have ever considered – a Bolt. The others were: Niro, Stelvio, Model 3, and Ioniq EV. I forgot to add the Nissan Leaf.

          I was definitely leaning EV when I shopped, but the hybrid Niro and the Stelvio have their own virtues I liked.

          The Kia dealer I have bought from (twice) is pretty good, but the one closest to me is terrible. I wouldn’t buy any of that dealer’s brands from them.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Pretty much that the buyer couldn’t afford anything better.”

      I would respond but the wi-fi outside this White Castle is terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      wolfwagen

      NO NO NO – Mitsubishi means they cant afford anything better.

    • 0 avatar
      chiefmonkey

      Dodge lol! What a reputation Dodge has.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Um, the Telluride has the highest ATP for its segment and higher than that for the Acura brand.

      Don’t be surprised if the Carnival attains the highest ATP for its segment (even if it doesn’t achieve the sales heights of the others).

      The Stinger sells well as the A5 Sportback and 4 Series GC (fastbacks are niche sellers).

      The new Sorento can get quite pricey, but like for the Telluride, it’s the upper trims that are most in demand.

  • avatar
    backtees

    Strolling out of Home Depot last week and a 2020 white Cadenza was parked in spot number 1 and it was very attractive. White with tan int. It was truly a looker. If they could replace that Kia badge with a symbol it would pass as a $50k vehicle for 90% of the population. Got home and went down an auto trader rabbit hole with used models… good value that just got better.

  • avatar
    backtees

    Strolling out of Home Depot last week and a 2020 white Cadenza was parked in spot number 1 and it was very attractive. White with tan int. It was truly a looker. If they could replace that Kia badge with a symbol it would pass as a $50k vehicle for 90% of the population. Got home and went down an auto trader rabbit hole with used models… good value that just got better.

    • 0 avatar
      DungBeetle62

      If the Mrs. weren’t so adamant about the designer label, I’d have cross-shopped a new Cadenza with the CPO Lexus ES she ended up with. Although the Lexus was always more likely to hold value, even before this move.

  • avatar

    Kia, no Kia, who cares. Had never been in or even saw their dealership, has to be a creepy place like Mitsu or Nissan. I have enough nightmares already.

  • avatar
    EX35

    Am I insane that I’ve never been impressed with a single H/K vehicle? I rent cars a ton and I feel like I’ve received a H/K car in every rental class. I always feel let down by the driving experience. The interior is nice enough and usually better than Nissan/most domestic makes I’ve been given, but driving the darn things is always where things fall apart. Sloppy steering, weird suspension tuning, and just a lack of a solid feeling on the road. Judging by how many I see on the road, I feel I must be alone in my opinion or perhaps ppl value infotainment over chassis engineering.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      There’s enough buyers stepping out of an 18 year old Altima or Cobalt where a new Kia Optima feels quite an improvement. I’m always surprised at how many people just don’t notice things like the dash materials or suspension tuning.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “I feel like I’ve received a H/K car in every rental class”

      You don’t have to be impressed with the vehicle dynamics, but your experience shows that the rental agencies thinks these brands provide a decent ROI.

      I’m not one to care about driving dynamics, so I could be blind to how bad my H/K cars really are. But they’ve been reliable and cheap to operate, so maybe I hold to the same standards as a rental agency.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I can honestly say that I’ve not recognized inferior chassis engineering when comparing something like an Encore GX to a Kona or a Sentra to a Forte.

      To me the Genesis cars don’t exactly drive “German” but they don’t drive terrible either. On the mainstream stuff I don’t feel much of a material difference versus other brands.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The G70 drives “German” but the G80 is geared more for American
        (and Korean) luxury.

        Several reviewers have stated that the Sonata N-Line is the only FWD family sedan that feels German at high speed.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      EX35

      I don’t necessarily disagree with some of your observations. For the wife and I it was the value equation. WE could afford any vehicle in its class and ended up with the Santa Fe XL. I saved over $5,000.00 over the Toyo/Honda equivalent.
      And I had to settle the resale argument on another thread-but there isn’t a $5,000.00 difference at trade in time either.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    Haven’t commented in a while, but had to rise to the cause today. Both the Equus and K900 had potential and I think Genesis/Hyundai have shown the way to a premium line (much the way Lexus did 30 years ago). From my perspective, the K900 died because of it’s insufferably poor dealers. I tried to shop the car in my world (Western suburbs of Chicago) and the experience was laughable. The same guys that are selling low-end Kias on a payment aren’t capable of shifting to selling a $60,000+ car to folks who are likely cross shopping against a BMW or Lexus. Just a terrible dealer experience – too bad.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Agreed, and Hyundai is going to have a very, very hard time establishing Genesis without a separate dealer network, even if the product and pricing are right.

      The buying experience is very much part of marketing luxury cars – it needs to be “clubby,” for lack of a better word. Hard to make that happen when the folks at the next table have head-to-toe tats and three obnoxious kids and are yelling at a salesperson because they can’t understand why they can’t buy a Tucson with their 400 credit score.

  • avatar
    wolfwagen

    The one good thing about the Cadenza?
    Their first commercial for the 2013 model:

    https://www.ispot.tv/ad/7ngW/kia-cadenza-impossible-to-ignore-song-by-david-bowie

    WOW!

    Supposedly there is a 2 minute version of this commercial, but I cant seem to find it.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    Another excellent vehicle is now dead thanks to the deplorable taste of Americans.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      cheifmonkey
      The KIA/Hyundai marketing guys are partially responsible as well as the dealers. The more you move upscale the less you want to put up with the crap of Hyundai/KIA dealers. And for those of us who have bought a model from them-we can attest there is plenty of that to shovel at MOST Hyundai/KIA dealerships.

  • avatar
    bd2

    The Cadenza/K7 is being discontinued and will be replaced by a new, more premium model, the K8 (likely won’t see it here).

    The K900 will likely be replaced by a lux SUV/CUV.

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