2019 Kia K900
You can't fake competence. Regardless of how soft the leather feels or how chauffeur-ready a back seat is, a luxury sedan must drive well. Without dynamic excellence, the sedan will feel more like a bucket of features than a genuine luxury sedan, leading some to question why they didn't buy a pricier model from an established brand. After a year behind the wheel of a 420-hp 2015 Kia K900 V-8, I appreciated the car's value but said it had potential. The new 2019 K900 attempts to realize that potential with a twin-turbo V-6 and standard all-wheel drive. We tested the Kia-badged luxury sedan and found the K900 manages to make more with less.
If the idea of a $64,895 Kia sedan disgusts instead of intrigues, enjoy your Mercedes. But before you lease an E 300 sedan or BMW 530i, sit in the Kia's back seat. Nice, huh? Although the new K900 drives like a more convincing luxury car than the last-gen model, the large sedan's most captivating feature remains its comfortable rear-seat accommodations. Impress your clients—or spoil your kids—with the loaded K900's power-adjustable heated and ventilated rear seats. The K900 seeks to (again) reshape consumer perceptions about the Kia brand. No matter how good the car gets, it will never be enough for some buyers who want a little "I've made it" status with their luxury-sedan experience.
Everyone else can delight in the fact that the 2019 Kia K900 is both quicker and more efficient than its eight-cylinder predecessor. With 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque from a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6, the new 2019 K900's only powerplant hurtles all 4,717 pounds to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds. Despite such a hefty curb weight, that's three- to four-tenths of a second quicker than 2015 K900 V-8s we've tested and actually competitive with other luxury sedans. Sure, the 2019 K900 is at least a second quicker to 60 compared to BMW 530i and Mercedes-Benz E 300 sedans we've tested, but buyers of those turbo-four-powered cars may be more brand-conscious than Acura and Lincoln buyers. The Lincoln Continental sedan with the line-topping 400-hp twin-turbo V-6 completes the 0-60 sprint in 5.5 seconds. A 2017 Volvo S90 T6 matches the K900's speed, while the Acura RLX hybrid—which carries a similar price as the Kia—smokes them all at 4.9 seconds.
So the new six-cylinder, AWD-only K900 is quicker than its eight-cylinder RWD-only predecessor. What those numbers don't show is the new Kia's superior body control. Associate road test editor Erick Ayapana noticed it during braking testing that resulted in a 60-0 mph stop in a respectable 117 feet. On the street, I definitely noticed the lack of floppiness, as that trait was often a factor in the last K900.
The Kia's power to surprise continued in testing on MotorTrend's figure-eight course, which evaluates braking, cornering, acceleration, and the transitions between them. Road test editor Chris Walton called the 2019 K900 "unexpectedly fun and capable." Although he also found the steering a bit vague and slow, the Kia's improved dynamics translated to a figure-eight time of 25.5 seconds at 0.70 g (average). That's way better than the last 2015 K900 V-8 we tested and even a tad quicker than BMW 530i and 540i sedans we've tested. It's also far better than the RLX hybrid, Continental 3.0, and S90 T6, all of which are also all-wheel drive.
Just as Walton found on the track, the K900 rewards smoothness on the street, too. Should a situation call for a quick burst of power, however, the responsive eight-speed is ready to answer to that command. But again, just relax. Enjoy the way the real wood trim rises from a horizontal plane to meet the dash's matching trim or feel the leather-covered grab handles. Appreciate the fact that every K900 includes a 17-speaker 900-watt Lexicon sound system, 12.3-inch infotainment screen (controllable with your touch or via a control knob), a 20-way power driver's seat with power-adjustable side bolsters, and a surround-view camera system that works intuitively.
The bottom line with features: The 2019 K900 doesn't have a true base model—at least that's true as this is written. The only option—besides a sadly limited four-color exterior palette with three interior colors—is the VIP package. For $4,000, Kia makes the two rear outboard seats power-adjustable, adds a microfiber headliner that feels great, makes the rear outboard seats not just heated but also ventilated, includes an additional pair of rear air vents (on the B-pillars), and gives the driver a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster. Really, though, this package is only worth the money if you like the idea of 14- and 12-way power-adjustable rear outboard seats. One of the only omissions is a panoramic sunroof (a regular-sized version is standard), curious considering how many other Kias offer that feature. Although the rear seat is comfortable, taller passengers may wish the K900 allowed them to stick their feet underneath the front seats.
These are small issues for a cabin that gets most of the details right, including a leather-like material on the back of the door pulls. The biggest detractor with the 2019 K900 isn't even the fact that it's a Kia—it's the expected dealership experience. As I found with the 2015 K900 with which I spent a year, and as we discovered with our long-term 2018 Kia Stinger GT, "a trip to the Kia dealer is like flying coach when you're used to first class." The K900's 3 years/36,000 miles of complimentary maintenance is helpful, but no matter how nice your local dealer is, it can't compete with the experience of Genesis or Lincoln (the dealer picks up the car for you, services it, then returns it).
Speaking of Genesis, check out the G80 Sport if the K900 VIP package's rear-seat upgrades don't interest you. The Genesis is about 5 inches shorter but still looks and feels like a luxury car, even if the back seat isn't quite as big. It's also slightly cheaper and has the same engine but offers RWD in addition to AWD. When the G80 Sport's "I'm sporty!" design is too shouty, also consider the Volvo S90. Now only offered in a long-wheelbase form, the S90 in T6 AWD form has the same 5.2-second 0-60 time as the G80 Sport (RWD) and 2019 K900. But if you're the rare buyer looking to wow rear-seat passengers and don't mind a Kia badge staring you in the face on your $64,895 car, the K900 finally has enough performance to match the feature content you expect.