Over 14 installments, we’ve finally reached the conclusion of our coverage of Kia’s midsize and large sedans. The Korean manufacturer’s original offerings were borrowed from other companies, most often Mazda. It’s been a long journey, but we finish our tale today with a promising-looking front-drive sedan that’s off-limits to North America. You might never have heard of it.
Last time in our Kia large car saga, we learned much about the second-generation K9. Kia’s large, rear-drive luxury sedan wore K900 badging most places (including North America) but was also called Quoris on occasion. After a first generation that failed to capture the interest of global consumers, Kia went bigger and better for its second attempt.
The larger, more luxurious, and more refined K900 debuted in 2018 for the 2019 model year. It was as good a car as Kia could offer, a statement that was printed with an asterisk: From inception, any Kia flagship had to be lesser than its Genesis (nee Hyundai) sibling. Not as large, not as luxurious, not as showy, not as expensive, and without a long-wheelbase limousine. Let’s find out how it fared.
In our last installment of Kia’s large sedan history, we took a look at the second generation Cadenza. With its second salvo at the likes of the Toyota Avalon and the Buick Lacrosse, Kia planned to capture the near-luxury sedan customer who cared about value. Unfortunately, the Cadenza didn’t excel at anything in particular, and failed to stand out against more established competition.
A similar story played out a few years before when Kia introduced the first full-size rear-drive luxury car it ever designed in-house. Called the K9 (Quoris or K900 elsewhere), the large sedan shared a platform with the new rear-drive Hyundai Equus. Both sedans were the flagship offerings at their respective brands.
The Equus was flashy and almost American-inspired, while the K9 was conservative and understated. But it turned out a large and anonymous looking luxury car was not to the taste of most customers. Even in its home market, buyers vastly preferred the Equus and its large winged hood ornament. What was Kia to do?
As we return to the history of Kia’s large sedans, we find ourselves in the midst of the 2010s. When the full-size and rear-drive K900 was introduced for the 2015 model year, Kia’s front-drive comfort option, the K7 (Cadenza to you), was in the midst of its first generation. A replacement for the unloved and ugly Opirus (Amanti to North Americans), the K7 ushered in sophisticated but bland Euro-centric styling from Peter Schreyer upon its launch in 2010.
Cadenza didn’t make its way to the North American market until 2014, and debuted with slightly sharper styling and a nicer interior via a mid-cycle refresh. Kia took its time in bringing the Cadenza to the North American market, as they wanted to be sure they got it just right.
In the end, the first Cadenza fell between the soft rock of the Lexus ES and the hard place of the Nissan Maxima. Additionally, it lacked the prestige to compete with other large front-drive upmarket offerings of the time. The new cadenza lasted only three model years in North America, as Kia was ready for an all-new generation K7/Cadenza in 2017.
It’s time once again for more Kia large sedan goodness. Like last time, we pick up in the early 2010s. Kia’s second full-size sedan developed under Hyundai’s controllership was the K7, or Cadenza in all markets outside South Korea. Pitched as a value-priced premium front-drive car, it competed against the likes of the Toyota Avalon and Nissan Maxima, but lacked any defined comfort or sporty characteristics. Cadenza also had a bland corporate design courtesy of the company’s new Euro-like styling mission, and former VW designer Peter Schreyer.
Shortly after the Cadenza went on sale, Kia turned its sights toward an even larger sedan: A new rear-drive one to occupy the luxury space, a class above the Cadenza. It was the largest car Kia offered in nearly two decades, the first rear-drive Kia since the (Mazda Sentia) Kia Enterprise of 2002, and the first rear-drive sedan Kia ever sold in the North American market. It’s time for K9.
We return to Kia’s large sedan history today, at a point shortly after the launch of the K7. Kia’s full-size front-drive for the 2010s, the K7 was called Cadenza in all export markets, and was a successor to the unfortunately styled Opirus (Amanti in North America). Kia hired Peter Schreyer from his longtime employment at Volkswagen Group in order to usher in a new stylistic era at Kia.
Though it went on sale for the 2010 model year, Kia wasn’t quite ready to send the Cadenza to the North American market. With the market’s general rejection of the Amanti in mind, Kia called on Schreyer to refresh the Cadenza and lux it up before its North American launch.
Commenter Chocolatedeath is absolutely adamant we talk about today’s trio of unpopular sedans. They’ve all got V8s, rear-drive, and found few buyers in their day, but that won’t stop us from choosing one among them to take home.
So, without further adieu, let’s take a look at Chocolatedeath’s car comparison, shall we?
There’s a good reason why insurance premiums are rising like your author’s blood pressure while scanning his Twitter feed, and it’s not just because providers really, really like making money. (They do, of course.) Average repair bills in the U.S. rose by about a third in the past three years, mainly due to the proliferation of safety technology, and insurance premiums followed. Country-wide, premiums rose 7.9 percent in 2017.
Cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and radar sensors tend to be located in areas of the vehicle most prone to damage, even in even low-speed collisions, and sturdy, exposed 5 mph bumpers are unfortunately a thing of the past. Many would prefer to see all automakers design their cars with repairs in mind, thus lowering future costs and premiums.
As an example of the headache of repairing technology-festooned vehicles, behold the average front-corner collision repair cost of one rare Korean sedan.
“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.
Our last few entries in the Buy/Drive/Burn series have been stuck in the 1990s, and we’ve had a request recently to talk about something a bit newer, perhaps even… current. While you recover from your immediate shock, I can assure you we aren’t going completely mainstream. No talking about boring everyday things. No, these three will likely all qualify as Rare Rides subjects in the future, assuming I’m 70 years old and there’s still an Internet media (hopefully there isn’t).
Three untouchable large sedans, all of them trading on their luxury intentions. Remember, you only get to burn one, and one has to go home to your garage.
Everyone’s favourite full-size, rear-drive Kia sedan returns with all-new clothing for 2019, and the Korean brand has seen fit to show us the car’s exterior before its debut at this month’s New York Auto Show. That’s good, as we’re not likely to invest much time in it at the show. Sorry, Kia.
Stubbornly refusing to vacate the full-size luxury field, Kia’s new K900 — sold as the prestigious K9 in the automaker’s home market — looks to bump up refinement in areas drivers found lacking. Given that the K900 is widely expected to borrow the Genesis G90’s platform and powertrains, ride quality and muscle shouldn’t be an issue.
The photo you see above is your first glimpse of the 2019 Kia K900 — the second generation of the Korean automaker’s full-size flagship sedan. If Kia’s lucky, it won’t be your last time seeing it.
Sold overseas as the K9 or Quoris, the first-gen model appeared on U.S. shores in early 2014 with Hyundai Equus underpinnings, rear-wheel motivation, a choice of V6 and V8 engine, and LeBron James as a spokesman. Sales crested the 2,500-unit mark in 2015 before falling to 455 in 2017. Like Bigfoot, the K900 is large and rarely spotted.
Kia hopes to change that with the new model.
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!
When dining at a steakhouse, my father always told me, make sure you ask for your beef to be grilled longer than you would at home, because restaurants always hastily send the food to your table. You want medium-rare? Ask for medium. Want medium? Ask for medium-well.
With the K900, a V8-engined sedan closely related to the Hyundai Equus, Kia asked for rare, and the chef that is the American car consumer collective is sending it out to the table even rarer.