If you’re shopping for a super luxury sedan, you’re probably thinking about Mercedes, BMW and most certainly, Lexus. But don’t forget about Kia.
No, we haven’t overdosed on the goodness of the new 2020 Kia Soul that we enjoyed so much. There’s a Kia sedan – all-new – that takes on the likes of the Lexus LS, and does it a fraction of the cost, too.
Enter the 2019 Kia K900.
The what? The K900. Let’s take a step back. Remember the wonderful Genesis G90 sedan we tested a little while ago? Well peek underneath the Kia’s sheet metal and you’ll find it shares the platform and much of the running gear. But Genesis is catching on – it’s a great brand with great products. You drive a Kia K900 though, you get to be an influencer.
It Looks the Part
While there was a K900 offered between 2014-2018, it was hindered by looking a little too much like a bloated Optima. The new model doesn’t suffer the same fate. With styling that clearly says premium luxury, this is one Special K – longer and wider than the previous model. Inspired by a design ethic Kia calls “The Gravity of Prestige” the aim was to create a feeling of solidity and volume. We like it too, it’s conservative and tasteful.
One thing that helps is replacing the Kia “Tiger Nose” of the previous model, with a new “Quadric Pattern” grille with 176 (yes, we counted them) jewel-like cells that Kia says are “suggestive of released energy accelerating away from its center in the way ripples in water move away from the impact of a splash.” Don’t you love design-speak?
The large grille does flow out nicely to the two-tiered duplex headlamps that give a unique signature look to the front end. We also like the profile that looks like what the K900 is, an unapologetic premium sedan – there’s no trying to be a coupe, or next year’s spaceship.
We also love the stance of the K900 on its 19-inch alloy wheels, promising capability, control and confidence. Out back, rear duplex combination lamps – which look very Mercedes – echo the front end. It adds up to a cohesive design.
One bit of expression we loved was our tester’s elegant and eye-catching Lakestone Blue that stands out in the sea of Black, Silver and White luxury sedans that seem to be found on 90% of luxo-sedans. For those who choose to blend in, the K900 is also offered in Black, White and Panthera metal.
Subtle on the outside, the interior is a major wow factor. It starts with a huge space, truly limo-surious and quite unlike the Lexus LS which is intent on selling you on coupe-like sportiness.
Plop down into the supremely comfortable seats – any one will seduce you – whether it’s the 20-way power adjustable driver seat or the merely(!) 16-way, adjustable front passenger seat.
Actually, you might want to ride in back – our tester had the VIP package, which features 14-way adjustability behind the driver and 16-way behind the passenger. You also get power recline, height-adjustable headrests, and forward/aft, tilt up/down cushions. More? How about heated and cooled rear seats, plus climate controls on the fold down armrest. Deee-lightful.
Back to the driver’s seat, you’ll be pleased to know that Kia has reduced the number of interior controls from 91 to 73. While that may seem like a lot, we prefer it over having to go through 4 or 5 buried screens in an info-tainment system just to do something basic.
And they are lovely switchgear, in a metal finish that looks elegant. The speaker covers are works of art in their own right, and of course everything is covered in soft touch leather and plush trim. The only gripe might be the faux wood trim, even though it has a nice matte finish is a little too faux fo’ its own good.
We’ll forgive it though, because there are lots of other goodies to catch your eye, including a massive 12.3 touchscreen in the center of the dash – it’s so big, it can slice up info into three sections and you still see everything brilliantly.
Kia’s UVO info-tainment system is one of the easiest and quickest to use, and with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along for the ride, plus wireless phone chargers front and rear, your connectivity needs are assured.
Your entertainment is also handled with an amazing 900 watt, 17-speaker Lexicon Logic 7 Premium Sound system with QuantumLogic with Clari-Fi. The system sounds even more fantastic than its name!
Speaking of entertainment, the driver gets his own personal 12.3-inch TFT color instrument cluster, which has a few cool tricks. While the speedo and tach look like traditional gauges, turn on the right turn signal and the tachometer face on the right becomes a TV screen projecting an image of the lane to your right from the K900’s mirror-mounted camera.
Signal to the left and the speedo becomes your camera display to for the left lane. It’s more than a cool party trick – it’s extremely useful and we’ll admit – brilliant!
And if that’s not enough, there’s also a very useful 9.7-inch heads-up display, to keep you informed.
She Loves to Dance
With this level of goodness, we would have been happy with a plump luxo-barge, wafting and wallowing its way around as we swells enjoyed the good life.
Surprise! This is a great car to drive.
It starts with the same twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 found in the Genesis G90 and K900’s little brother Kia Stinger. It pumps out a strong 365 horsepower and even more impressive 376 lb-ft of torque from just 1,300 rpm. Matched to a quick shifting 8-speed automatic with the extra grip of standard all-wheel-drive, this big, heavy sedan, is a land-bound missile off the line. Put it into sport mode, and it serves up 60 mph in about 5 seconds and does it quietly and with just a subtle hint of growl.
Power is nice, but the K900 handles, too. For such a physically large vehicle, the precise steering, excellent outside visibility, responsive chassis, large 19-inch wheels and AWD combine to make a vehicle with superb grip, unflappable confidence, and superb capability.
Add in a nice amount of electronic controls including Comfort, Sport, Smart, Eco and Custom modes, and you can pretty much dial in whatever you want. Most time, we found Comfort the best setting, letting the big motor do the work, and just gliding around. Need to pass a pesky slow-mover? A tap of the Sport mode and you’re gone.
And while it never goads you into hooning around town, like say a Hemi Charger R/T, it’s more than capable of keeping up with just about any big sedan, including those pricey European brands.
If Jason Statham does another Transporter movie, the K900 should be his car!
Hold On to Your Lederhosen!
So, the K900 impresses. But let’s be honest, it’s not going to be easy to lure buyers out of Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW showrooms to your friendly Kia dealer. So, let’s say, Kia will make you an offer you can’t refuse.
The K900 basically comes as one massively loaded model, the K900 Luxury, starting at $59,900. Along with everything mentioned above, you get all the safety goodies, including Surround View monitor, Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot monitor, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Avoidance Assist – and Safe Exit Assist – that notifies driver and passengers of potential hazards, including passing cars, bicyclists or pedestrians when opening any door to get out of the vehicle. Very cool.
Our tester had the one and only option – the appropriately named VIP Package, which for $4,000 gives you the 14-way power-adjustable rear right passenger’s seat w/ 4-way power lumbar support, 12-way power-adjustable rear left passenger’s seat w/ 4-way power lumbar support, Chamude premium headliner, ventilated rear seats, 12.3″ full LCD meter display, rear wireless phone charger, and additional rear ventilation.
Add in $995 for destination, and our tester came in at $64,895. Yes, in a vacuum that seems like a lot for a Kia. But A comparable Lexus LS500 AWD comes in at $104,020. So, you could get the K900, and a Kia Soul.
And a Kia Niro.
To get the same level of goodness from Mercedes took us to an S560 4Matic and a staggering $122,050 price tag. That’s nearly twice the price of the K900.
Perhaps the closest competitor comes from its sibling the Genesis G90. But to get the rear seat goodies of our K900, you’ll be stepping up to the G90 5.0 Ultimate RWD, and you’ll be looking at $74,845. See, not so bad making that trip to your Kia dealer after all, is it?
Those willing to shake free of badge snobbism will get a superb luxury sedan, and those who don’t – well, they’ll be missing out.
The all-new 2019 K900 is a wonderful flagship for the brand: an amazing value, beautiful, luxurious, and superb to drive.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.