Interview

Kia Tells Us Why The K900 Deserves A Second Chance Despite Poor Sales

There's a big difference when a vehicle is developed for a global market.

We were not the only ones surprised to see a second-generation Kia K900 large sedan in the U.S. The first generation was not exactly a huge seller with only 455 examples finding homes in the U.S. last year. But there it was, earlier this month at the New York Auto Show, the all-new 2019 Kia K900. It’s an impressive new sedan no doubt, but given sedan sales in general are dropping and the poor performance of its predecessor, why did Kia make the decision to give it a reprise?

We asked Kia USA product chief Orth Hedrick that very question in the Big Apple, and his answer provides some logic. “We’re a global company and we’re going to make this car anyway. I think for a lot of us it signals our competency,” he said. “When you drive it, we’re hoping we’ll get much better reviews for this car than we did the previous car just based on how well it handles and performs. It has the latest technology. We have dedicated dealers within our network who are K900 dealers. I think there are a set of buyers who don’t want to pay $1,200 a month but they still want a nice, big, comfortable sedan.”

Hedrick added the K900 is “basically the same car” as the highly rated Genesis G90 because it has the same running gear and chassis, however “it was left in the oven for a bit longer. The designer had more time to work on it. Its dynamic competency is much, much improved over the existing car.” It’s also important to point out the first-gen K900 was developed for the Korean domestic market and only came to the U.S. in mid-life. “It was a reaction to the recession. We have a lot of buyers coming in that are coming out of BMWs, Mercedes; it was en vogue to have a value brand,” Hedrick explained.

“We quickly hustled that car over. It wasn’t really meant for the U.S. market and I don’t think it was our best effort. This one will be out in August. It’s completely new. We’re really proud of the dynamics. It drives great. It’s going to market with only one powertrain [and standard all-wheel drive —ed), which is the same engine from the Stringer—3.3-liter twin-turbo, 365 horsepower, V6.”

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Kia K900
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