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2019 Kia K900 Review

Terry Box | March 20, 2019
2019 Kia K900 Review

All my friends snicker when I slide up to some stiff social event in an atomic-red Mustang that might be missing its mufflers.

Heck, they swear I don’t even know which end of a tennis racket to choke, except maybe in a fight.

So, I look forward to arriving at one of these high-end wine-busts in the 2019 Kia K900, one of the more interesting segment-straddling sedans anywhere.

Who says rednecks can’t have a drop or two of blue blood in them – even when they’re wearing red P.F. Flyers? Not me, Jeeves.

Actually, many of you may not know what a Kia K900 is -- a laughable name that suggests a police canine unit or other dog analogies. I’ll let you take the jokes from there.

Moreover, Kia sold a whopping 354 K900s last year, according to Automotive News, which is slightly less than the number of F-series pickups that Ford typically builds and sells in an hour.

The K900, a full-sized, value-priced, near-luxury sedan, deserves to step in out of the dark, particularly now.

When the K900 arrived in the U.S. in 2015, it baffled everyone. A big, awkward, abidingly plain sedan from Korea that cost more than $50,000? Do we hambone Americans really look that gullible? Maybe.

For 2019, though, Kia put its increasingly talented designers to work thoroughly refurbishing the stumbling Lexus-intender, and my white K900 glistened with new appeal and energy.

Lower and slightly wider than last year’s model, it shares a platform and engine with the Genesis G80 and G90 sedans.

The Luxury model I had clearly looked sleeker and better proportioned, confronting doubters with Kia’s signature “tiger-nose” grille cast in semi-flashy braided silver.

Unusual two-level headlamps on either side of the grille wrapped around into the fenders, topped by a long, broad hood with subtle lines in it.

Although not particularly distinctive, the car’s smooth sides and huge doors get some much-needed accent from a deep character line above the door-handles and silver trim down low that might have been lifted from one of BMW’s big sedans.

Similarly, the K900’s large squarish taillamps resembled those on a Bentley, but, hey, at least Kia aims high.

Meanwhile, its turbine-style 19-inch wheels were wrapped with 245/45 tires that filled the K900’s wheel-wells nicely.

For 2019, Kia dropped its V-8 option in the K900 in favor of a stout 3.3-liter turbocharged V-6 with 365-horsepower, an engine also available in several other Kias and Hyundais.

In addition, the big sedan offers all-wheel-drive only, like some high-end German sedans.

It might be a smart move. Buyers of luxury and near-luxury sedans expect performance, style and great capability in their sedans, and this move keeps the $65,000 K900 in the hunt.

Plus, the 3.3 in my car eagerly answered any calls for more steam, generating a fat wave of torque that made quick work of any needs for speed from the 4,800-pound K900.

Zero to 60 – a good predictor of a vehicle’s expressway behavior – popped up quickly in 5.3 wheel spin-free seconds, while the car’s overall fuel economy chugged along at a reasonable 21 mpg overall.

Thanks to the engine’s broad power curve and well-sorted eight-speed automatic, the K900 felt quicker and smaller than it really is.

Its revamped platform and improved steering enhanced its dynamics, allowing the over-sized sedan to dive into moderate-speed corners with the sort of vigor it lacked last year.

As you would expect in a near-luxury sedan, though, the K900 is really built to cruise, absorbing bumps with no shudders in a quiet, long-legged manner that felt Lexus-like.

Likewise, I thought its upscale brown interior nicely complemented the K900’s polished exterior. A two-tier dashboard in pliable black plastic set the tone, easing around a giant 12.3-inch display screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability.

While the screen was a bunch bigger than I needed, at least the K900 didn’t use a center-stack, fitting horizontal panels beneath the screen with buttons and knobs for the car’s audio and climate systems.

Soft or rich-feeling surfaces seemed to define its interior, in fact, highlighted by saddle-colored leather seats with perforated bolsters and centers, and white piping on their edges.

However, though the K900 certainly looks large, legroom in back was just good, with head-room more limited – a possible weakness in this aspiring sedan.

My well-equipped Kia arrived with one option – the VIP package ($4,000), which included tri-zone climate control; power adjustable rear seats; premium gray suede headliner; and a wireless charger for the back seat.

Despite all the improvements and refinements, though, the K900’s biggest hurdle remains its lack of luxury cachet.

That could grow over time, but it seems to me that Kia has done a better job of tweaking and polishing its initial near-luxury sedan than Cadillac managed – or failed to manage – with multiple cars.

Now if it could just come up with a better name.

2019 Kia K900

  • What I liked most: The style and performance improvements to the K900, transforming it from mediocre to credible near-luxury sedan
  • What I would change: The car still needs more distinction, something Kia should be capable of
  • MSRP: Base price, $59,900; as equipped, $64,895
  • Fuel economy: Rated at 18 miles per gallon in town, 25 on the highway and 21 mpg combined with filler on the left
  • Official color: Snow White Pearl
  • Odometer reading when tested: 1,869 miles
  • Weight: 4,733 pounds
  • Length-width-height: 201.6 inches long/75.4 inches wide/58.7 inches tall
  • Fuel-tank capacity: 20.3 gallons
  • Towing capacity: Not available
  • Spare tire: Temporary compact
  • 2019 Kia K900 in a few words: A considerably better and richer feeling sedan now than it was just a year ago
  • Warranty: Five-year, 60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain protection
  • Final assembly location: Gwangmyelong, Korea
  • Manufacturer’s website: www.kia.com
  • E-mail me at terry@carprousa.com
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