Kia takes on the big boys of the luxury market with redesigned flagship sedan

The Kia K900 was launched in 2012 as the company’s most luxurious flagship sedan ever. Designed to replace the Amanti, a four-door which had moderate success in the U.S., the K900 brought Kia closer to its goal: to provide a solid competitor for the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. After almost six years on the market, the K900 was redesigned from the ground up and introduced to the North American market at the 2018 New York Motor Show.

Unveiled for the first time in its home market in South Korea, the new K900 looks significantly more modern than its predecessor. And, although it sports the brand’s current design language, it also boasts a few styling features of its own. It looks like Kia wants the K900 to stand out in the lineup, which is a good strategy in a market where sedans from different segments share too many features. The interior is a big step forward too, with the stylish design and the numerous convenience features putting it on par with the German sedans. Let’s have a closer look at what’s new in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Kia K900.

2019 Kia K900 Exterior

  • Unique design cues
  • Massive "tiger nose" grille
  • LED headlamps and taillights
  • Classy, subdued profile
  • New wheels
  • The most elegant Kia ever
2019 Kia K900 Exterior
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The new sedan brings together familiar Kia styling elements and a series of features that are unique to this model

Redesigned on a clean sheet of paper, the new sedan brings together familiar Kia styling elements and a series of features that are unique to this model. Up front, we can see the already iconic "tiger nose" grille, but in a somewhat different form on this model. Wider and taller than on any other Kia, it also has a unique mesh with fine horizontal and vertical, but at the same time curved, wires. The outgoing model has a honeycomb-like mesh, while the Cadenza has vertical slats. This new grille gives the K900 a more upscale look and sets it apart in the lineup.

The headlamps were redesigned too. While the outgoing model’s lamps are similar to those of other Kia sedans, the new four-door sports smaller headlamps. The reduction in size was somewhat necessary given the extremely wild grille, but Kia also opted to keep things simple and classy, as the lamps don’t extend too much into the fenders. They also have a unique LED layout, with two U-shaped strips looking as if they’re floating below the main lights. The bumper section is clean and simple and includes a three-piece intake configuration that keeps the front end looking clean and elegant. Nothing too wild or sporty to talk about here.

2019 Kia K900 Exterior
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The profile design is now cleaner and the beltline was moved above the door handles

A lot has changed on the sides too. The design is now cleaner and the beltline was moved above the door handles. This removes the K900 from the old car-design cliche and gives it a unique look among the German sedans. Kia also deleted the vents on the front fenders and redesigned the chrome trim above the side skirts, which now become narrower toward the rear. There’s a redesigned quarter window too, with a sportier design due to the more angular trim on the D-pillar. The latter is also shorter, which gives the new K900 a slightly longer decklid. But the four-door retains much of the fastback layout of its predecessor. The sedan rides on new-design, 19-inch wheels.

Like everything else, the rear section is much cleaner. The big two-piece taillights on the previous model have been replaced by smaller units that no longer extend into the trunklid. Their shape mimics that of the headlamps and also include U-shaped LED bars. While the big chrome strip that ran across the entire width of the rear fascia is gone on this model, the taillights have a thin chrome surround that maintains the premium look. A new chrome bar was added to the bumper, just above the rectangular exhaust pipes and the diffuser-like element.

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The new K900 is also slightly longer and wider than its predecessor

The new K900 is also slightly longer and wider than its predecessor. Overall, the new K900 looks fresh and stands out more in the Kia lineup. This is a good thing for the flagship model, as it finally has the proper stance for a range-topping model.

2019 Kia K900 Interior

  • Roomy cabin
  • Two-tone upholstery
  • Nappa leather
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • Optional heads-up display
  • 12.3-inch infotainment screen
  • New navigation system
  • Harman Kardon audio
  • Advanced Driver Assistance package
2019 Kia K900 Interior
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Thanks to the horizontally oriented features of the dash, the K900’s interior looks wider and roomier now

The current K900 gained a lot of praise for its interior. Not only spacious for all passengers, it also comes with great value for the buck, featuring all the cool tech you get in the German sedans for a lower price. What’s more, it looks as premium as they get and despite being a few years old, it’s not yet dated. Thankfully, the new K900 takes everything up a notch and moves Kia farther up the luxury ladder.

Thanks to the horizontally oriented features of the dash, the K900’s interior looks wider now, which also makes it seem roomier. The layout is minimalist and elegant, complimented by metal trim and wood veneers. You can choose between four open pore matte wood selections, including Walnut, Brown Olive Ash, Beige Olive Ash, and Engineered Wood. Soft leather can be seen on most surfaces, with options including black, beige, Espresso Brown or the highly appealing two-tone Sienna Brown.

2019 Kia K900 Interior
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Soft leather can be seen on most surfaces, with options including four colors

The premium seats are also wrapped in leather and feature quilted shoulders. Also heated and ventilated, the driver’s seat is optionally available with 20-way adjustability, width-adjusting bolsters and lumbar support with power air cells and shoulder adjustments. In the back, the driver-side seat and the passenger-side seat offer available 12-way and 14-way adjusters, respectively, as well as reclining capability, height-adjustable headrests and forward/aft, tilt up/down cushions. Seat heat and ventilation are optional for the outboard rear seats

The dashboard is uncluttered and ergonomic and comes with an analog clock specially designed and co-branded by Maurice Lacroix. I guess Kia took some inspiration from the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but there’s nothing wrong with that, as many other premium automakers add analog clocks to their cars. Steering wheel is heated and wrapped in fine leather as standard equipment. Kia also created a new ambient lighting system for the K900. Developed in conjunction with the world-renowned Pantone Color Institute, it includes 64 colors and seven specific color settings, each inspired by nature.

2019 Kia K900 Interior
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The dashboard is uncluttered and ergonomic and comes with an analog clock specially designed by Maurice Lacroix

Moving over to tech, the Kia uses a new, 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen that displays maps, trip information, audio sources, climate controls, and more. There’s also a new navigation system and a new UVO Luxe system that offers a full suite of remote features through an embedded modem in the vehicle. Accessible through an UVO account on the myUVO.com website, it can be used from the desktop, tablet, or dedicated phone app to remotely start, set the preferred cabin temperature, or use the Find My Car feature.

The new, fully-digital instrument cluster measures only seven inches and is subpar relative to the competition, but the available 12.3-inch display puts the K900 in the same league with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. An available 9.7-inch head-up display shows speed, navigation, audio, and driver assistance systems on the windshield. Finally, the K900 gets a 900-watt, 17-speaker Harman Kardon/Lexicon audio system, Kia’s most powerful sound system ever.

On top of all of the above, the sedan is equipped with the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems package, which includes Surround View Monitor, Blind Spot View Monitor, Lane Keep Assist System, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Avoidance Alert, Lane Follow Assist, and Advanced Smart Cruise Control.

2019 Kia K900 Performance

  • 3.3-liter V-6 engine
  • 365 horsepower
  • 376 pound-feet of torque
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Updated suspension
  • Standard AWD
2019 Kia K900 Exterior
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Under the hood of the new K900 lurks a twin-turbocharged, 3.3-liter V-6 engine

Under the hood of the new K900 lurks a twin-turbocharged, 3.3-liter V-6 engine. The unit is identical to the one in the Stinger model and is rated at the same 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. That’s a 69-horsepower and 119-pound-foot increase over the previous model with a 3.3-liter V-6. The engine features dual continuously variable valve timing (CVVT), a wider radiator for more efficient cooling and airflow, and a 600-watt electric fan motor.

The transmission is an in-house built eight-speed automatic with Shift-by-Wire gear selector, while optimum handling, stability, and agility are provided by a full-time Dynamic Torque Vectoring Control AWD system. The unit is rear biased and electronically controlled and freely distributes torque between the front and rear wheels and from side to side. Up to 50 percent of torque can be distributed to the front wheels, and in Sport mode, up to 80 percent of the power can be routed to the rear wheels.

2019 Kia K900 Interior
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The transmission is an in-house built eight-speed automatic with Shift-by-Wire gear selector

The chassis gained important upgrades too. Strengthened over the previous K900, it has increased front and rear lateral stiffness, while torsional stiffness was enhanced by 33 percent. The suspension system has a four-wheel independent layout with a new front multi-link design. The optional Electronically Controlled Suspension increases performance and reduces variations in wheel load and chassis motion.

An internal damper system utilizes wheel acceleration sensors to detect rough roads and responds by modulating the suspension setting accordingly. The K900 also uses an electromechanical, rack-mounted power steering assembly designed to increase agility and comfort. Equipped with standard variable ratio steering, the system provides a better sense of stability, especially during high-speed driving.

No word on the whether the U.S. model will also get the 3.8-liter V-6 and the 5.0-liter V-8, but the latter is mandatory if Kia wants to compete with the range-topping versions of the S-Class and 7 Series. The outgoing V-8 mill is rated at 420 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque and Kia may want to increase that to at least 440 horses and 390 pound-feet.

2019 Kia K900 Prices

2019 Kia K900 Exterior
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U.S. pricing information is not yet available, but it’s safe to assume that the new K900 will cost a bit more than the outgoing model. With the old K900 priced from $49,900, the new-generation sedan could retail from around $54,000. Should Kia also introduce a V-8 model, it could cost around $64,000 before options.

2019 Kia K900 Competition

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class High Resolution Exterior
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Introduced in 2013, the current Mercedes-Benz S-Class was for many years the most advanced vehicle in this niche. Now that both BMW and Audi have brand-new flagship sedans on offer, the S-Class is no longer that far ahead, but it remains one of the most innovative vehicles on the full-size market. Facelifted for the 2018 model year, the S-Class remains mostly unchanged on the outside, as upgrades only include a new grille, larger front bumper intakes, new LED taillights, and 20-inch wheels. The interior was carried over mostly unchanged too, but Mercedes added a new steering wheel with touch-sensitive buttons, an upgraded infotainment system, large 12.3-inch displays, and Drive Pilot, which turns the S-Class into a semi-autonomous vehicle. Two drivetrains are available. The S450 model uses a biturbo, 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, while the S560 gets its juice from a biturbo, 4.0-liter V-8 with 463 horses and 516 pound-feet of twist. Pricing starts from $89,900 for the V-6 model and from $99,900 for the V-8 version.

Read our full review of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

BMW 7 Series

2016 BMW 7 Series High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Bimmer is a much newer proposition, as it was launched for the 2017 model year. Although far from revolutionary, the 7 Series feels fresh design-wise and has a sportier stance compared to its predecessor. Inside, it’s available with the finest materials and trim ranging from wood to aluminum, while the panoramic roof comes standard. Tech includes the iDrive 5.0 with touch display and Gesture Control, a removable seven-inch tablet for rear-seat occupants, and a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond sound system. It’s also semi-autonomous thanks to a wide array of driving assist features. Just like the K900 and S-Class, the 7 Series is powered by six- and eight-cylinder engines in the U.S. The base 740i model uses a 3.0-liter inline-six that’s good for 320 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque, while the 4.4-liter V-8 in the 750i generates 445 horses and 480 pound-feet. The 7 Series is also significantly more expensive than the K900. While the 740i starts from $83,100, the 750i fetches $96,400 before options.

Read our full story on the 2018 BMW 7 Series.

Audi A8

2018 Audi A8 Exterior High Resolution
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Redesigned for the 2018 model year, the Audi A8 is the newest full-size sedan in this comparison. The much-needed update brought the flagship model in line with the rest of the Audi lineup, featuring more angular lines, a bigger grille up front, and an overall sportier stance. Much like the 7 Series, it’s an evolution of the outgoing model, but the design improvements are obvious. The cabin is nothing to write home about in terms of design, mostly because it’s too clean and subtle compared to its rivals, but the tech package is impressive and turns the sedan into a semi-autonomous lounge on wheels. Various engine options are available globally, starting with a 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 340 horsepower. The bigger 4.0-liter V-8 cranks out an impressive 460 horsepower, but you also have two diesels to choose from. The 3.0 V-6 TDI comes with 286 horsepower, while the 4.0 V-8 TDI generates 435 horses. U.S. pricing is not yet available, but expect the new A8 to cost in excess of $80,000 in base trim.

Read our full review of the 2018 Audi A8.

Conclusion

2019 Kia K900 Exterior
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It’s obviously too early for a conclusion with the car not yet in showrooms, but the new K900 is a significant improvement over the outgoing model in just about every department. Unfortunately, not the same can be said about the drivetrain, which lacks a V-8 engine in the U.S., but the V-6 powerplant taken from the Stinger is powerful enough. The only downside that remains is the badge. While Kia is doing its best to climb as much as possible on the luxury ladder, the Korean badge lacks the prestige you get from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. Changing this is probably Kia’s most difficult mission right now, but the new K900 will definitely take the company closer to its goal.

  • Leave it
    • * Lacks the prestige of the German badges
    • * No V-8 in the U.S.?

References

Kia K900

2015 - 2016 Kia K900 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the current 2017 Kia K900.

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Read more New York Auto Show news.

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Read more Kia news.

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