NEWS

Will Anyone Care About the New Kia K900?

The first-generation Kia K900 was a grandiose flagship sedan from a brand seldom associated with top-tier luxury. Since it hit the market in March 2014, the K900 has accounted for all of 5,197 U.S. sales. That’s fewer than the Kia Optimas sold last month alone. Will a redesign improve on that? I hit up Kia’s stand at the 2018 New York International Auto Show to find out.

Related: More 2018 New York Auto Show News

Kia officials were quick to distance the second-generation K900 from the Genesis G90, the top sedan from Hyundai-Kia’s new luxury division. The 2019 K900 is a few inches shorter in length and wheelbase, and officials told me it’s more closely related to the Kia Stinger, its new performance hatchback. Unlike the Stinger, the K900 employs conventional sedan styling, with tall headlights and taillights the latter giving the tail Bentley-esque flavor. Kia’s so-called “duplex” headlights stack two light pipes ahead of the main bezels in a sort of rings-of-Saturn display. It’s a cool, 3-D effect you can see from the side.

img 674369704 1522347030137 jpg 2019 Kia K900 | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Architecture notwithstanding, the K900 shares some interior bits with the G90 namely a 12.3-inch multimedia screen that props atop the dashboard. You control it with a knob at armrest level or use it as a touchscreen. Two rows of physical controls below place shortcut knobs and buttons within handy reach, while the console itself has adequate cubby space for a smartphone or sunglass case. Sound familiar? Those are all standout qualities of the G90, a luxury sedan with loads of no-nonsense practicality.

img 1686516230 1522347039125 jpg 2019 Kia K900 | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

So it goes with the K900, which boasts similarly top-notch cabin materials plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, two features still unavailable in Genesis’ flagship. The K900 wraps many surfaces in stitched materials, and quality doesn’t drop off when you get below armrest level or move to the backseat. Speaking of the latter, the K900’s rear bench affords adequate headroom and a high seating position so adults’ knees won’t be uncomfortably elevated. The plunging rooflines in too many sedans mean you trade one for the other, but the K900’s upright profile much like the G90’s preserves both. Bravo.

I don’t know that anyone will care, unfortunately. The Stinger should raise Kia’s profile among luxury shoppers, but the K900 whose prior generation started at more than $50,000 may still be a bridge too far, and Kia did no favors by keeping the unmemorable alphanumeric name. There’s plenty to like in K900 2.0, but it’s hard to see a sales breakout for this latest effort.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

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