2019 Kia K900 Luxury
3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (365 hp @ 6000 rpm, 376 lb/ft. @ 1300 rpm)
Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
18 city / 25 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
19.8 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $$60,895 US
As Tested: $$64,895 US
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States. K900 not available in Canada
I’m not quite to the tin foil hat stage, but I’m certain that Google’s ad servers have their cameras trained on me. No, I didn’t get caught up in that face aging app nonsense a couple weeks ago — and I’m not one for selfies. Rather, I’m sure I’m being watched, as with every new gray hair that sprouts on my beard, I seem to get more advertisements for products meant to help with aging.
From retirement planning advice, to literal beard dying products, to (ahem) virility potions and devices, there seems to be no end to the market reminders that I’m much closer to the dirt nap than I am to a nap in a crib. And the vitamin ads never stop.
Maybe this 2109 Kia K900 is yet another solution to my advanced years, with comfort and luxury meant to coddle my aching back. But I like to think of it as one of those once a day vitamins. It’s easy to use, just like a simple daily pill — but like that pill, you don’t think about it much when you’re done swallowing it. And, again like the daily dose, it’s forgettable for Kia, who sold roughly one K900 per day last year.
Not at all kidding. Per GoodCarBadCar, Kia moved 354 of their flagship luxury sedans in the 2018 calendar year, or fewer than one a day. The answer to why seems quite simple — it’s some mixture of unfamiliarity alongside the traditional misconception of Kia as nothing more than a budget brand. Really, have you seen a commercial or banner ad talking about the K900?
It’s a shame, really, as Kia leverages the value message nicely with this car. Other than a couple port-installed options like floor mats and wheel locks, the only option available on the K900 is the $4,000 VIP package, which adds a wide 12.3-inch infotainment screen that can display three functions at once — it looks like I had weather and a list of presets flanking the current song when I took these photos, though navigation is one of the options, and can be shuffled around the screen as you see fit.
Further, The VIP package adds 14-way power adjustment to the passenger seat, and 12-way power adjustments to the rear seats, as well as seat cooling ventilation to those rear chairs. Better still for those being chauffeured, a rear-seat wireless charging pad is in that VIP package as well. Try adding all of those bits to a European luxury sedan — the window sticker will groan under the weight of all the added ink.
A brilliant use of the LCD screen that makes up the driver’s gauge cluster is a screen showing a live view of the blind spot while the turn signal is activated. When the right signal is clicking, the display shows to the right in place of the tachometer, and when the left signal is on, it moves to the left where the speedo would sit. It’s intuitive, it’s clear, and it’s a great way to add a touch of safety. It’s a feature that’s trickling to more of the Kia lineup, but I’m enamored with this.
It’s also a feature that’s hard to photograph well, since it doesn’t work when the transmission is in park. Some jurisdictions might consider any handheld mobile device use in a car a violation, even while sitting at a light. So, take this cell photo with that caveat.
The interior is beautifully appointed, with plush leather seats the rival of anything in the class, and an optional suede headliner (part of that VIP package) adding a touch of bling. That said, it’s not exciting. If you want to be dazzled by crystal-clad shift levers and carpets deep enough to require a lifeguard, this is not your ride. It is, for better or worse, a Kia. It’s an Optima or a Cadenza with a bit more room and nicer materials. The controls are as simple to understand as you’d find in a Sportage.
Sadly, the exterior keeps up that “just another Kia” image. It doesn’t exactly stand out, even though the absurdly-low production numbers might lead you to think otherwise. Especially in this refrigerator white, it’s handsome but anonymous.
From the front, I’m reminded a bit of the Euro-market Ford Scorpio of the mid-Nineties. If you don’t recall that one, finish your lunch before googling it. The K900 is done much better, but the resemblance in the bulbous headlamps is especially hard to unsee. And, yes, I know I need to do a better job of washing off the dead insects.
Driving the K900 is surprising, as one would expect something powered by the Stinger’s twin-turbo V6 to be a bit more swift in operation. This bigger platform definitely swings the performance/luxury pendulum well to the plush side. The power, while plentiful, doesn’t make the big Kia sprightly. The suspension is well damped, but the steering is numb. It’s not a driver’s car, by any means — it’s a car for arriving refreshed rather than invigorated.
At my age, I’m beginning to see the appeal of maintaining the status quo. So a daily supplement that threatens to keep my joints relatively limber and my organs in roughly the right places is intriguing. The Kia K900, similarly, will not raise the heartbeat, but it will deliver the recommended daily dose of luxury and value.
[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn]