The redesigned 2019 Kia K900 begins its second generation with a touch of spirit that the first generation bypassed with its conservatism. It’s still a cruiser, still more like the Kia Cadenza family sedan than the new Stinger sport sedan.
The K900 also remains close to the Genesis G90 sedan, while being a bit longer and wider than before, enabling more interior space and extending its lead as Kia’s largest sedan. It’s 201.6 inches long with a wheelbase of 122.2 inches..
The cabin is beautifully designed. The exterior styling features a splashy oblong and horizontally ribbed grille, sharp LED headlamps with matching LED taillights, and understated character lines on the sides. The ride and handling are much improved thanks to the longer wheelbase and more rigid body structure.
The spirit continues with its twin-turbo V-6 engine, with no apologies. At 3.3 liters it’s significantly smaller than the 5.0-liter V-8 that powered the previous K900. But the twin-turbo V-6, borrowed from the hot Stinger, makes big horsepower with 365, and 376 pound-feet of torque. With its 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, it can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, quick enough for a cruiser.
The fuel mileage is okay, with an EPA rating of 18 mpg city, 25 highway, 21 combined.
The K900 hasn’t been crash-tested, and might not be because of its cost. Standard safety features include forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors with side-view cameras, active lane control, and a surround-view camera system that warns the driver who might begin to open the door when traffic is coming from behind–including, importantly, a bicycle rider.
The K900 also has available driver-assistance features such as stop-and-go cruise control, and the ability to steer and brake at low and moderate speeds.
The $60,895 K900 is flush with standard equipment, including leather, open-pore wood trim, automatic climate control, navigation, heated and cooled front seats, and a 7.0-inch TFT gauge display. The touchscreen interface with smartphone connectivity includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Options include Nappa leather, ambient lighting, a 12.3-inch screen for the gauge display, a head-up display, 900-watt 17-speaker surround-sound audio, a 20-way adjustable driver seat and a 12-way passenger seat, heated and cooled outboard rear seats, synthetic suede headliner, and smartphone apps that can start the car, set the cabin temperature, and find it when you’ve lost it in a parking lot.
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.
Kia has always done a brilliant job of reinterpreting traditional luxury looks. Now it can move them smartly ahead, too. To some at least, including probably K900 buyers, the new car could pass for a Jaguar XJ.
It’s more carefully drawn and handsome than before. It tries very hard not to be polarizing, and it doesn’t, which also makes it less distinctive than the smaller Stinger.
The cabin, however, does indeed stand out, with all the glamour and some of the opulence of a Mercedes. It dazzles even in low gloss. The fit and finish is nearly perfect. It boasts a whole cow’s worth of leather. The dash is a seamless flow of wood, with wide digital displays and big speakers. Storage space abounds for small items.
It’s exceptionally comfortable, with wide front seats having heating, cooling, and more standard and optional adjustments than you can keep track of. Click Sport mode and feel the driver’s seat grip you to hang on for the ride.
The K900 sports 36.6 inches of rear seat leg room, with the same heating, cooling, and power adjustment (optional). Also optional is rear climate control.
The trunk is 15.3 cubic feet, about average for a full-size sedan.
The K900 straddles the luxury and performance world. The ride is creamy while the powertrain is beefy.
Twin turbos make up the difference under the hood. The twin-turbo V-6 delivers 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic. The power comes on with an urgency that translates into a 5.7-second 0-60 mph time, but with 4,700 pounds to carry, it’s smoother than it is stunning.
There are selectable modes for the driver to set the performance characteristics. With the torque biased toward the rear in its default mode, 50 percent of the power can move to the front to balance traction; or in Sport mode, up to 80 percent of the power goes to its rear wheels.
The suspension is the usual independent setup, with struts in front and multiple links in rear, and the steering is the usual electronic. The sophisticated all-wheel-drive system can divide the power between the front wheels and between the rear wheels as well, which helps the handling a lot.
In Comfort mode, the steering relaxes, while the available adaptive dampers render the ride super-smooth, with a mere trace of the wallow of the previous model.
In Sport mode, the K900 gets more assertive. The throttle is more assertive, the transmission stays in its gears longer, the steering gets heavier, and the suspension tightens up for compelling curves. The 19-inch Michelin touring tires inspire confidence on fast sweepers, but sudden hairpins are too demanding for the transmission, as it tries to stay calm. Big bumps are the K900’s Achilles heel; it could use a drive mode between Comfort and Sport.
The 2019 K900 may be the best Kia luxury car yet. The 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 is a fine engine, and the beautiful cabin is the best part of this redesign. With more suspension and drivetrain tuning, it has the potential to upend a rival or two in the luxury-car hunt.