Home » The Insane Kia K900 Flagship Luxury Sedan Might Just Be The Best Bargain In Cars Right Now

The Insane Kia K900 Flagship Luxury Sedan Might Just Be The Best Bargain In Cars Right Now

2015 Kia K900 Beige Sleeper Ts
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When it comes to road-tripping, nothing soaks up the miles quite like a flagship luxury sedan complete with all the bells and whistles. However, when it comes to blending in with traffic, a Mercedes-Benz S-Class or Lexus LS doesn’t do a brilliant job, because they have the presence and the badge to suggest their drivers are absolutely loaded. So what if you could have the road-going equivalent of a first-class Emirates seat that almost nobody will notice? The Kia K900 is virtually invisible, but that’s partly because it comes with a badge you wouldn’t normally associate with luxury. As a bonus, that badge makes it dirt cheap, and it isn’t the first time an automaker has pulled this move.

By now, most car enthusiasts are familiar with the Volkswagen Phaeton. My co-worker Mercedes even owns one. The Phaeton was an insane luxury sedan engineered to an absurdly high set of standards, then unleashed to America wearing the same badge that adorns the Beetle. Naturally, it wasn’t a sales success, and it sold so slowly that it served as a glorious warning to other automakers not to launch wild luxury cars under brands that aren’t ready for it. Clearly, Kia didn’t listen.

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Welcome back to Beige Cars You’re Sleeping On, a weekly series in which we raise the profile of some quiet greats. We’re talking vehicles that are secretly awesome, but go unsung because of either a boring image or the lack of an image altogether.

2015 Kia K900 2

In the beginning, for the start of the 2015 model year, all American-market K900 sedans came with a 420-horsepower five-liter V8. A 3.8-liter V6 was later optional, but even in an era where most luxury flagships had adopted forced induction, this naturally aspirated eight-cylinder titan felt wildly out of character for Kia. Keep in mind, these cars shared showroom floors with Rios and first-generation Souls, and not anything resembling a 3 Series or C-Class.

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So, given the V8 under the hood and Kia’s almost Pontiac-like role to Hyundai’s Chevrolet, you might expect the Kia K900 to have a slightly sporting flair to it. Nope. Not only did Car And Driver call the Mk1 K900 “more flaccid than anything wearing an H badge, including the Equus with which it shares many mechanicals,” it also reported some rather amusing body control under braking:

 During hard stops, it felt as though the big 5.0-liter V-8 up front were dropping anchor through the subframe to the pavement below. Yet the front end’s hunt for Red October—“We’re diving, captain!”—was accompanied by so-so braking distances, with the best 70-to-0-mph measurement being 172 feet. Feel through the overly soft brake pedal proved nonexistent, and while it had no apparent impact on the brakes’ fade performance, repeated stops at the test track saw plumes of smoke pour forth from each wheel well, as the brakes must contend with 4670 pounds of Kia.

To some, that excerpt might seem terrifying, but to others, it only furthers the mystique around and appeal of the K900. Too many luxury cars these days are performance cars clad in leather, rather than rolling waterbeds made to soak up truly abysmal infrastructure. Overpasses with chunks falling out of them, potholes with depth measured in fathoms, the trappings of decay that we’re all forced to live with. The Kia K900 is luxurious in the cosseting, effortless sense of the word, and did it ever have a cabin to back that up:

2015 Kia K900 Interior

More leather than the average sex dungeon? Check. Wood on the dashboard and the steering wheel? Check. A 900-watt Lexicon audio system? Check. Heated and ventilated front and rear seats? As you wish. Right out of the gate, the K900 was a Mercedes-Benz S-Class rival with a Kia badge, and despite not selling in huge volume the first time around, Kia displayed remarkable tenacity when it lined up to take another shot.

2019 Kia K900 1

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That’s right, for 2019, Kia rolled out a second-generation K900 for America, and while we don’t know why or how this happened, we’re glad it did. Not only did this Mk2 car include more wood, more leather, more metal, more of everything than before, it also got a tech update that still feels current. We’re talking about an available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a massive touchscreen, a 20-way driver’s seat, and an interior made almost exclusively of gorgeous stuff.

2019 Kia K900 Interior

Sure, the V8 was swapped out for a boosted V6, but this is the same engine under the hood of the Stinger GT, which means a remarkable number of tuning parts bolt up if you’d ever want to turn one into an absolute sleeper. Plus, isn’t this just an astonishing amount of car to come with a Kia badge?

2017 Kia K900 1

Likely as a result of that Kia badge, used examples are hilariously inexpensive. Here’s a 2017 car with the V8 and 53,621 miles on the clock listed up for sale on Autotrader at a Kia dealer in Raleigh for just $19,860. It isn’t even a salvage title car or anything, that’s just how cheap these things are. In fact, this one’s a one-owner car with a clean Carfax, and it costs less than a new Forte compact sedan.

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2015 Kia K900 Autotrader 1

Alright, let’s say you don’t care too much about mileage. Well, here’s a 2015 model up for sale privately in Franklin, Tenn. for just $9,800. Sure, it has 116,030 miles on the clock, but come on, that’s not bad for a flagship luxury sedan from the past ten years with a four-figure price tag.

2019 Kia K900 Autotrader 1

Even second-generation cars have been hit with unfathomable depreciation. Here’s a 2019 model with 71,057 miles on the clock up for sale at a Hyundai dealership in Surprise, Ariz. for $23,990. That’s a massive depreciation hit in five years, not great for whoever bought this new, but it could be a phenomenal opportunity for car shoppers willing to think outside the box.

2015 Kia K900 Rear

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At this point, you’d be forgiven for thinking there must be a catch with a car this nice and this new for this cheap, but other than the badge, there really isn’t one. Through 40,000 miles of driving, Car And Driver reported that its K900 long-term test car cost less to dealer maintain than a Mazda CX-5 compact crossover. Sure, the Mazda will be far easier on fuel, but the Kia K900 will certainly be more comfortable.

2015 Kia K900 Rear Seat

As a bonus, it’s a luxury car with precisely zero snob appeal. Nobody will think you’re a douchebag for driving a Kia, so K900 owners are able to experience all the sumptuousness of a six-figure luxury sedan with none of the judgment. Hell, the only people who’ll judge you will be car people, and their reactions will fall along the lines of “Holy crap, that person’s a hero!” After all, Kia sold just 6,277 of both generations in America from model years 2015 through 2021, and since Canada is a smaller market that only got the K900 from 2015 to 2018, a mere 96 were sold north of the border.

2019 Kia K900 Rear

So, if you want the best relatively recent road trip car you can buy for the money, hunt high and low for one with a Kia badge. The Kia K900 makes no sense for America and slips completely under the radar, and that’s part of why we adore it. If you buy one, we’re pretty sure you’ll adore it too.

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(Photo credits: Kia, Autotrader sellers)

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Flinched
Flinched
18 days ago

Hyundais and Kias are designed with as many features as possible within a price point to wow the average consumer. And they’re built to win points in the initial J.D. Powers quality survey. After a few years and about 40k miles they’re junk. It’s a shame your parent company, a large dealer group with many brands including Kia, throttles or influences your ability to publish unbiased articles.

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
20 days ago

It would have sold better if it was called the Kia Sex Dungeon.

Dingus
Dingus
20 days ago

Great. I had been shopping for the wife as she wants a grampa car (not sure why) so I had it narrowed down to a Continental Black Label or a CT6 3.0TT. Now this thing enters the conversation. I’m just dumb enough to try this sort of thing. Not sure if she’d bite on the Kia badge though. The big fat one staring you down on the steering wheel seems like it’d be a bit of a bummer. Maybe slap a batman sticker over it or something.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
19 days ago
Reply to  Dingus

Drive all 3 back to back and you’ll end up with the CT6. It’s the only one that feels like a proper long wheel base luxury sedan. You’ll wish they made a brougham version

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
20 days ago

How related is this to the Genesises.. Genesis’.. Geneses that always and forever have soot stains over the exhaust? I’ve seen apparently well kept, recently washed examples, and they always have the evidence of dirty exhaust over the tail pipes. I’ve always wondered what is plaguing those engines.

T-wrecks
T-wrecks
20 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong. But, I am pretty sure that I read at some point that the soot was a result of the Gasoline Direct Injection engines. It isn’t that there is anything wrong with them it’s just how they operate.

The Clutch Rider
The Clutch Rider
20 days ago
Reply to  T-wrecks

i never had any soot issues on my 17WRX, and i have never seen soot on the bumpers of anything but VAG diesels.

AceRimmer
AceRimmer
18 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

It’s basically direct-injection only vehicles. Go look at every GTI the past 20 years, same thing.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
18 days ago
Reply to  AceRimmer

Ah. TIL!

TDI in PNW
TDI in PNW
20 days ago

I think the G90 (entire run) looks like a German luxury sedan (compliment) but I’ve always thought the K900 just looked kind of bland, like a bigger Kia sedan.

I had a 2002 Infiniti Q45, so a huge, v8 luxo-barge is already something I’m keen on; this “beige” car was on my radar too but there’s only a handful of them for sale anyways.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
20 days ago

We only got 96 of those!? That means over %3 of all Canadian K900s are currently for sale

Last edited 20 days ago by Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
20 days ago

You got the Chevy/Pontiac simile backwards

Also, does Torch demand all Autopian writers use sexual metaphors in every article? I’m here for it, just curious. You seem like a kinky crew

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
19 days ago

Yeah. While Kia is definitely Pontiac, Hyundai is more like Oldsmobile.

70degrees
70degrees
20 days ago

There is a catch to these cars: they have atrocious build quality. My father bought a 2015 K900 V8 Premium brand new in 2017, and still has it today (yes, he got a brand new 2015 car in 2017, that’s why they sold it to him for less than $50k even though the MSRP was $66k).

In the past 7 years, he’s had to replace the hood struts, all 4 TPMS sensors, the sunroof mechanism twice, an O2 sensor, both catalytic converters, the passenger side door mirror due to a failed motor, the driver’s seatbelt retraction mechanism twice, the A/C compressor, and the rear center console lid/access door. Thankfully they’ve all been covered under warranty, otherwise we’d have put at least five figures into fixing the car.

Oh, and the front seat center console lid is also broken, but it’s no longer covered under warranty, so we’ve just removed it and he now has an open center compartment because the dealer quoted him $1,200 to fix it.

Parts take 2+ months to come in because the car is so rare and they have to be special-ordered and shipped from the warehouse. Also, like any new car, the parts are universally expensive. A new headlight is approximately $3,000 since it’s one of those fancy swiveling ones.

Oh, and finally, these are also currently under recall for possibly catching fire and Kia officially recommends parking the car outside to reduce the risk of your house being set ablaze. Despite Kia making it sound serious in the recall letter, we’ve been waiting months for an update on when it’s going to get fixed, and the dealer has no idea.

The only reason he still has it is because we bought an extended warranty for it. The factory warranty expired after 5 years, the extended warranty lasts for another 5 until 2027. In the two years the car has been on the extended warranty, he has racked up $3,500 in repair bills. We still have another 3 years to go. He’s literally counting down the months until the warranty expires, at which point he’s probably going to trade it in towards a used Lexus.

So to anyone considering buying one, if all you want is something that starts, runs, and has a cushiony ride, go for it. The car has always started and ran, and it still feels extremely comfortable. But expect everything else around you to fall apart. Maybe get one if you are very handy with a wrench and are willing to put up with broken non-essential features, but for everyone else, it’s not worth it.

This car has singlehandedly convinced our entire family to never buy a Hyundai or a Kia ever again. If this is the build quality of a $66k car, we shudder to imagine what the build quality of a $35k car looks like.

Kyree
Kyree
20 days ago
Reply to  70degrees

To be fair, all that wouldn’t be abnormal for a contemporary A8, S-Class or (especially) 7 Series.

But I agree that there’s no reason to buy this.

I’m not too impressed with Genesis (as a G90 owner), either, but that’s more to do with the Genesis brand experience than the car itself, which is lovely.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
20 days ago
Reply to  Kyree

I can’t speak for the Bimmer or the Merc, but the D4/D5 A8 is a very well sorted machine. I joined a bunch of forums and FB groups to research gotchas when I was considering an S8 and there really isn’t much. Even air suspension failures are a rarity.

Kyree
Kyree
20 days ago

Oh, I know. I had a D4 A8 L, a 2013 A8 L 4.0T. Eventually, it had transmission trouble, but I loved it and would buy another. Probably a 2015 or later.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
20 days ago
Reply to  Kyree

Yeah once you’re post turbo oil screen recall issues on the 40.T there isn’t much to lose sleep over. Did it ever have a transmission fluid/filter service? Not sure if those came with the ZF8 but Audi likes to say they’re “lifetime fluid”, which to them means 100k mi, even though ZF will tell you to service it around 60k miles.

Kyree
Kyree
8 days ago

It did.

MDMK
MDMK
20 days ago

The K900 may be most notable as the vehicle LeBron pretended to own during its introductory advertising run (just as Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning used to pretend to own Buicks).

With only around 6K units tooling around in all of America, I’d appreciate the K900’s Q-ship exclusivity but would be too concerned about parts availability to pull the trigger on one.

Goblin
Goblin
20 days ago

Two things…

First, the second most beautiful car exhaust sound I’ve ever heard was a K900 with open-ish exhausts.
The very best was some Porsche that sat next to me at a redlight and which I thought was a Panamera. Till it blasted off to show me Taycan in big letters. Go figure.

Second – while a K900 is a wonderful and original car to drive, anyone thinking they’d be saving money by owning a 100000 mile one is dreaming.
It will for sure be more reliable and less maintenance-capricious than a matching German of equal size and mileage, but repairs, should they come up, won’t be much less expensive.
The K900 (or an Equus) will have parts that would be not much less expensive new from the dealership, labor rates between between German and Korean dealerships vary much more based on location than they vary based on brand, and a German dealership fixing 7 series day in and day out might be more experienced than a Kia dealer who would see a K900 once in a blue moon.

The K900 will very probably be more reliable, replacing small banal parts will probably not require dropping the subframe when you least expect having to do it, and the engine is probably not kept hot on purpose so all the plastic parts get cooked and become brittle and leaky in five years, but when bigger repairs show up, there will likely be way less junked ones to salvage parts from for DIY-ers.

Lastly – had some idle chat with my Hyundai dealer last time I was checking my econosuv – he killed all my dreams by mentioning that the Equus (which is not that old) is close to absolutely unrepearable, as they can’t get any parts for it. Spoke about some lady’s Equus that got in a fender-bender and waited six months for odds and ends, and that plenty of parts in the parts diagram showed as no longer available when he was searching for body parts.

The K900 is unlikely to be far behind on that.

So – beautiful, amazing, smart and underrated car – yes, a viable (not even mentioning “smart”) purchase – no.

As a gift, for a 4-digit price, or coming with a second one for spare parts ? Bring it on 🙂

Last edited 20 days ago by Goblin
Owen Chidester
Owen Chidester
21 days ago

Why would I get this Kia when I can get a Lexus ls instead, and have perfect reliability just saying….

V10omous
V10omous
21 days ago

“Nobody will think you’re a douchebag for driving a Kia, so K900 owners are able to experience all the sumptuousness of a six-figure luxury sedan with none of the judgment.“

Imagine buying a car or not based on what you fear others will think of you, rather than what you enjoy for yourself. Good lord.

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
21 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

You also get to save money.

AlterId
AlterId
21 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

Generally true, but careful where you go if you’re being driven around in a Mercedes 770K.

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
21 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

Also, what if you WANT people to think you’re a douchebag?

Protodite
Protodite
20 days ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

The Maserati dealer is waiting

The Clutch Rider
The Clutch Rider
20 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

since all the alimas in my area have been totaled they have all been replaced with hyundais and kias.

TheFanciestCat
TheFanciestCat
21 days ago

The enthusiasts and brand snobs will turn their nose up at this, but as low key luxury that gets you from A-B comfortably, this is a really solid value. It’s a car for making traffic as not miserable as possible, and that’s good enough for most highway commuters.

Last edited 21 days ago by TheFanciestCat
Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
21 days ago

Make sure you budget well for repairs. Hyundai/Kias reliability of late is terrible and this has all the toys so it’s not just an engine replacement you have to budget for.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
21 days ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

I dunno, I hear the V8 is quite reliable past the early teething years. Even then I’ve got a friend with a 2012 Genesis 5.0L and she’ll drive it nonstop for hours across state lines, and has done so for the last five years or so without issue.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
21 days ago

Did I miss the original MSRP? Sure ~$20k isn’t bad, but what did it start at? If that’s only down from 40k then it’s pretty normal depreciation. Sorry for the dumb question, I’ve never looked at these so I have no idea what they cost when new.

Jacob B
Jacob B
21 days ago

It started originally around 60k, but the last generations were 70-80k. It’s a Genesis G90 with a Kia badge.

Forbestheweirdo
Forbestheweirdo
21 days ago
Reply to  Jacob B

Thanks. I can’t imagine spending $80k on a Kia. Which is completely the point here and why they’re so cheap but wow. Yeah I knew it was an Equus/Genesis something or other, but I don’t follow those either haha.

Kyree
Kyree
20 days ago
Reply to  Jacob B

Not that they ever sold for what they transacted at. Most of the first-gen ones ended up discounted at least $10K.

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
21 days ago

Drove to New Hampshire and back (to CT) yesterday and found myself wishing for a much quieter ride.

The Equus ultimate with the rear-seat recliners with leg rests and massage looks nice.

Not a lot of them – or K900s – on the market, it seems.

Last edited 21 days ago by Jonathan Hendry
Kyree
Kyree
21 days ago

The first-gen K900 is one of those cars that seriously bothers me. On paper, it’s got all the ingredients—including the upholstery materials—but it doesn’t shake out to a convincing luxury car. For one thing, there’s the Kia badge, which, unfortunately, says all the wrong things. For another, it looks entirely like a knockoff of a 7 Series. For a third, the handling is pretty lousy. How Kia managed to make a reasonably modern unibody sedan handle like a Town Car is beyond me.

The second-gen was a lot nicer, although no one seems to remember it, and it lost the 5.0 as an option. I have what I believe is the platform sister to the second-gen K900: a 2018 Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate. It’s a super smooth car, although I’m discovering that even Genesis’ standalone dealerships are horrendous, no better than what you’d get at Hyundai or Kia.

Funnily enough, a Kia dealer I used to work for (which was actually shut down by the Feds, due to various fraud schemes) had a new 2014 K900 on the showroom floor. It rotted. Not only is a $65,000 car from Kia a difficult ask, but NO ONE would have wanted a $65,000 car from *this* dealer (which had a terrible reputation). I think it got dealer-traded.

Last edited 21 days ago by Kyree
RalliartWagon
RalliartWagon
21 days ago

Discovered! I have been lusting after a 2nd gen K900 for a while. I am lucky enough to have 2 sporty cars. This would be an amazing cruiser. Someday…

Random Shots
Random Shots
21 days ago

Did these have the 5.0 V8 oil consumption issues that other Hyundai 5.0 V8s had?

Also, I would rather get the 2015- 2021 Kia Sedona SX-L.

Last edited 21 days ago by Random Shots
Kyree
Kyree
21 days ago
Reply to  Random Shots

As far as I know, the oil consumption on the Hyundai/Kia 5.0 Tau V8 was limited to the 2012 model year, when it debuted.

I have a 2018 G90 with the 5.0, and it consumes no oil. It also only has 86K miles.

Last edited 21 days ago by Kyree
Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
21 days ago

Prices look interesting…anybody know what the reliability is like? My neighbor has a V8 Genesis and it’s been troublesome but the dealer treats him like a potentate with free pickup and delivery on warranty repairs so he’s happy.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
21 days ago
Reply to  Speedway Sammy

Thomas mentions it in toward the end of the article. After 40K, car and driver reported it cost less than a Mazda in maintenance. Now, that says nothing about the next 40K, or the 40K after that, but it seems like a solid start.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
21 days ago

Didn’t LeBron James get one of these? I remember seeing some basketball player in promos for it.

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
21 days ago

I bet it is VERY boring to drive.

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
21 days ago

Which can be a good thing! If you don’t need to haul things, it’s a perfect 2-car garage with a Miata, or an MGB, or a Jeep.

My mom was a sports car snob (“real sports car don’t have roll-up windows”), but I always remember one time when she rode to an out-of-town golf outing with a fired who had a big Buick, and she said, OK, I get it, I could see enjoying that on road trips.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
21 days ago

Boring is not always an insult. Boring can mean insulated and predictable.

Not boring is not always better. Driving a shitbox slammed 4 inches on blown struts, camber worn tires that are now slicks, and alignment that causes you to dart from side to side across every seam or line in the road is NOT boring. Its pretty terrible, but decidedly not boring.

Last edited 21 days ago by Lockleaf
I_drive_a_truck
I_drive_a_truck
21 days ago

[[insert Ron Burgundy “I don’t believe you” GIF here]]

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