2019 Kia K900 Review

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2019
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
April 23, 2019

Buying tip

Kia only sells about 1,000 K900s each year, so be ready to bargain—dealers will expect it.

The 2019 Kia K900 brooms some of its big chrome, and ups the ante with twin-turbo power.

Fresh off the design boards, the 2019 Kia K900 makes a new play for power.

The second-generation luxury sedan has been revamped, and now it tilts slightly away from its old-school luxury roots. It’s still a cruiser at heart, but there’s a bit more soul in its step.

We give the 2019 Kia K900 a 7.4 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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It shares its gene pool shared with the Genesis G90 sedan, but the 2019 K900 goes out of its way to distance itself. Marginally wider and longer than the car it replaces, the latest K900 outlines a less formal, more modern shape. It owes more to the plainer Cadenza family sedan, less to the new Stinger sport sedan.

The K900 has a splashy oblong grille with a horizontally ribbed texture, LED accent lighting, understated lines stamped into its side panels, and LED taillights that repeat the design of its headlights. Stitched door panels generate visual drama and frame a wood-trimmed dash with a wide, high-resolution display that sits atop slim-mounted vents, climate, and audio controls.

K900 performance

Kia loans out its Stinger sport sedan’s best bits to the K900—first and foremost, its 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6. Good for 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, it combines with an 8-speed automatic to deliver power to all four wheels. Kia promises 0-60 mph times of 5.7 seconds, and the K900 feels fleet, if not en fuego.

The K900’s all-wheel-drive system can split power between the front wheels and between the rear wheels as well. With a torque split biased toward the rear, it can move up to 50 percent of its power to the front to balance out traction; in a Sport drive mode, up to 80 percent of the power goes to its rear wheels.

Kia scores big gains in ride and handling in the 2019 K900, thanks to a more rigid body and a longer wheelbase. The front and rear multi-link design can be paired with an electronically controlled set of shocks; the electric variable-ratio power steering increases boost at low speeds for easier parking-lot maneuvers. Ride quality rises higher than steering feel, but the K900 defaults to classic big-car manners at its best. In need of a bit beefier body structure, it smooths the road well, but falls behind a well-sorted E-Class or even an RLX for overall composure.

2019 Kia K900 comfort, safety, and features

The largest sedan in the Kia lineup, the 2019 K900 has a longer wheelbase this year, and provides better interior space. Front seats have heating and cooling, and can be upgraded to 20-way adjustment for the driver, 12-way for the passenger.

In the rear seat, the K900 can be fitted with 12- or 14-way adjustment, as well as heating and cooling in the outboard seating positions. A package grants rear-seat passengers control over the climate settings, and the leather-trimmed interior can be upgraded with nappa hides as well as a choice of wood trims. Ambient lighting shifts colors, and the dash wears an analog clock. It’s a beautifully designed space with plenty of room.

Safety features on the 2019 K900 include a surround-view camera system, blind-spot monitors with side-view cameras, active lane control, and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. The K900’s sensors can detect and warn a driver that may open a door in the way of traffic. Kia hopes when it’s crash-tested, the K900 will earn top scores from both the IIHS and the NHTSA—but we’re not sure either agency ever will subject one to testing.

The $60,895 K900 has a touchscreen interface with smartphone connectivity that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Standard navigation can be augmented with remote-app controls that include remote start. A 12.3-inch driver information screen can replace the standard 7.0-inch gauge display, and can pair with an optional head-up display. Other available features include 900-watt, 17-speaker audio with surround sound, and a $4,000 VIP package with power rear seats, three-zone climate control, and wireless smartphone charging.

7

2019 Kia K900

Styling

Kia reaches for a global style with the new K900, and hits the mark.

Kia’s large sedans have struggled for a sense of identity, as they step away from K-pop glam. The 2019 K900 could be any of a number of globally popular luxury cars, and inside, that’s an exceedingly smart move.

We give it a 7 for styling, with two points extra for the cabin. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

If you thought the 2019 K900 could pass for a next-generation Jaguar XJ, we’re with you. Like Jaguar and Cadillac, Kia’s distanced itself from the styling cues that rang true for its home market. Now it’s gone global, and the K900’s body blends into the background. It’s more carefully drawn and more handsome, sure, but it’s also less distinct. The anodyne front end and roof pillars, the silhouette, the taillights all remind us more of the plain Cadenza sedan than of the sporty Stinger, or even the standard-issue Optima. It’s a peculiar strain of luxury that doesn’t want to be off-putting, a la Acura, and it’s fine—it’s just not a standout.

The standout pieces tuck inside, where the K900’s interior dazzles with a low-gloss fabulousness. Stocked with wide displays screens, bigger-than-Burmester speaker grilles in textured metal, big bands of matte-finish wood and whole cows’ worth of nappa hides, the K900 cockpit would suit an oligarch from any Risk region. The dash flows seamlessly to wrap front occupants inside a blanket of digital displays and analog finishes. The materials and textures that would have telegraphed its identity in the old K900 now carry themselves with a convincing air.

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2019 Kia K900

Performance

The 2019 Kia K900 sends mixed performance signals.

We’ve driven the 2019 K900 on both coasts, and in terms of performance, it’s still something of an enigma. Does it want to be a serene cruiser, or something with more sport-sedan ambition?

It does some of both, so we rate it a 7 for performance on the strength of its creamy ride and its he-man powertrain. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

In the last K900, Kia stuffed a 5.0-liter V-8. Now the K900 makes do with a turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6, an engine shared with the Genesis G70 and the Kia Stinger. To say it “makes do” is a bit of an understatement. The K900’s engine streams out 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic. Power delivery is urgent but not perfectly smooth; the 8-speed’s shifts sometimes bobble between mid-range gears as the transmission upshifts. Kia promises 0-60 mph runs of 5.7 seconds; there’s little sense of the dramatic acceleration since the standard all-wheel-drive system can shift half its power to the front wheels for smoother delivery. It’s also due to the K900’s stout curb weight of about 4,700 pounds.

The K900 sports an independent front strut suspension and rear multi-link setup and electronic power steering, and driver-selectable modes to alter its performance characteristics. The ride quality’s tuned better than the steering, and both are subject to some front-end quiver, a legacy of the K900’s stretched chassis. It’s a long-body derivative of the Stinger, and it could use more structure in front to prevent some minor twisting as it rolls over irregular bumps. In Comfort mode, the K900’s adaptive dampers render the ride creamy, not quite wallowy like the last-generation sedan, and the steering relaxes like it’s being neck-rubbed.

Dialed into Sport mode, the K900 stops shy of nervous: It grows more assertive with throttle, lingers in lower gears, weights up its steering, and puts its suspension on taut to handle the more compelling roads that lie ahead. On 19-inch Michelin touring tires, it’s able to carry speed through sweeping bends without much fuss. Tighter corners get too demanding for its luxury-car setup: The transmission won’t dive too far down in its gearset, the dampers don’t steel themselves against big pavement blemishes, and the transmission sometimes decides it’s time for an upshift even if the driver paddles in another direction. Given the K900’s rivals, Kia engineers might look at a base drive mode between the existing Comfort and Sport modes—and get adventurous above and beyond.

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10

2019 Kia K900

Comfort & Quality

Kia’s space, fit, and finish earns a perfect score in the K900.

The Kia K900 is the largest, most lavish vehicle Kia sells. It’s exceptionally comfortable, reels out passenger space by the cubic yard, and stitches and sews it all into place with a tailor’s eye.

We give it a 10 for comfort and utility. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

On the spec sheet, the Kia K900 measures 201.6 inches overall. It rides on a 122.2-inch wheelbase, which should mean that interior space excels.

It does. In front, the long-wheelbase sedan offers up wide power-adjustable seats with up to 20 ways of adjustment for the driver, 12 for the front passenger. The driver’s seat even cinches at the sides when the K900’s sport mode is engaged. Both front seats are heated and cooled, and both sit in a space with ample elbow and head room. The K900’s a good choice for tall or wide drivers who can’t find comfort even in sedans one size class smaller.

The K900’s rear seats coddle passengers in opulent surroundings. With 36.6 inches of rear seat leg room, the K900 has enough space to offer power rear-passenger seats, with 12-way power adjustment on the left, 14-way on the right, as well as heating and cooling in the outboard seating positions. Kia even sells the K900 with a control package that lets rear-seaters rule over the climate controls.

Small-item storage is fine, and the K900 has a reasonably large 15.3-cubic-foot trunk.

A few words about fit and finish: The K900’s nearly perfect in execution. With some of the glamour of the latest range of Mercedes sedans, Kia’s pulled off a convincing luxury look that’s missing only a badge with more heritage. (Anything other than the anodyne alphanumeric name, please.)

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2019 Kia K900

Safety

No crash-test data exists for the 2019 Kia K900.

We can’t assign the K900 a safety score because no safety data exists from either the NHTSA or the IIHS. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Until it’s crash-tested, we can only judge the K900 on its standard and available safety gear. On the standard side, the 2019 K900 has automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors with side-view camera, a surround-view camera system, and active lane control.

The K900 also has driver-assistance features such as cruise control that can stop and go in traffic, using the car ahead to track its moves, or absent a car ahead, can use the lane markings to steer and brake at low and moderate speeds. In our experience, the system isn’t quite ready for prime time; like most similar systems, the lane tracking is far from flawless, and requires an attentive driver behind the wheel.

Kia’s safety system in the K900 also includes a warning that alerts front passengers who may open a door into traffic approaching from behind—a particularly useful feature in bike-friendly cities.

We’ll update this section when the K900 undergoes crash tests.

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2019 Kia K900

Features

The 2019 K900 nearly pegs the features meter with its far-ranging standard equipment.

Kia outfits each K900 with nearly every feature a luxury-sedan buyer might want from an unknown newbie among executive sedans. It’s only missing care-free maintenance, really.

We give the 2019 Kia K900 a 9 out of 10 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The $60,895 K900 brings with it a wealth of standard equipment and even though it costs roughly $10,000 more than the previous big Kia, it’s still long on value. The list of standard equipment includes power features, nappa leather upholstery, open-pore wood trim, automatic climate control, heated and cooled front seats, and a 7.0-inch TFT gauge display.

The K900 also has a 12.3-inch touchscreen with integral navigation and an interface to control it and various climate and audio functions, as well as smartphone connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Via smartphone, drivers can start the car by remote, find their K900 in a parking lot, adjust the cabin temperature, even dial Kia’s VIP service line for help with maintenance or repairs.

All K900 sedans come with a 5-year, 60,000-mile warranty with a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the powertrain, but Kia doesn’t include free maintenance as some other luxury brands do.

Options are few. A 12.3-inch screen can be swapped in for the smaller one in the gauge cluster; Kia sells a head-up display and a 900-watt, 17-speaker surround-sound audio system, too. A $4,000 VIP package gets the bigger gauge display along with 14-way power-adjustable passenger-side rear seat and a 12-way rear driver-side seat, three-zone automatic climate control, wireless smartphone charging, and a synthetic suede headliner.

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4

2019 Kia K900

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage suits the Kia K900’s size and output.

The Kia K900 offers zero apologies for its middling fuel economy. It’s a full-size luxury sedan with two turbos and no hybrid or plug-in options. Thanks to EPA ratings of 18 mpg city, 25 highway, 21 combined, it’s a 4 on our green scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$59,900
MSRP based on V6 Luxury
 
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7.4
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 10
Safety N/A
Features 9
Fuel Economy 4
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