Sometimes being a leader in a car segment can be misleading. For example, my tester this week can argue high rankings in its segment. However, the segment of the auto industry it is categorized in, has a dwindling number of competitors. But, the 2019 Kia K900, which is redesigned for this model year, would still lead the pack if there were as many competitors as the current the Democratic Presidential candidate field. Staying on that analogy, the K900 isn’t a front runner, or a well-known name or the old timer with a long heritage. No, it would be the quiet candidate, or underdog, that just stays true itself, without compromising, but also exploits its quiet conservative side along with a wild, progressive side.

So, is the Kia K900 the ideal candidate? If you’re talking large luxury sedans, the answer is yes!

EXTERIOR

Large luxury sedans are a dying breed, so it’s nice to Kia stay engaged with their flagship sedan. The redesigned looks are attractive. The blend of conservative styling with bold flare adds distinction. The grille is understated, but then gives way to styling on the hood that subtly gives way to similar styling on the side panels. The back side regains its conservative composure but again teasing its wild side with dual exhaust pipes. All-in-all, the K900 has gorgeous looks. It’s exactly what you’d want a large, luxury sedan to look like.

PERFORMANCE

When it comes to a luxury sedan you want solid performance, combined with comfort. The K900 delivers that. There’s a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 engine that makes 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. The eight-speed automatic transmission is outstanding. My all-time favorite Kia vehicle is the Stinger, and this is the same engine found in it. So it drives like a sporty stinger, but thanks to some engineering tweaks, boasts a little more refinement thanks to a multi-link suspension. The K900 perfectly balances performance and refinement which is why it’s a segment leader as other competitors are too refined or too sporty with not enough smoothness.

INTERIOR

The hardest thing for Kia to accomplish is to get themselves into consideration in the luxury segment. If you blindfolded someone (and covered all badging) and placed them inside the K900, they would think they were in a Lexus. So, in all fairness, the K900 can go toe-to-toe with many in the segment when it comes luxurious and comfortable interiors.

The K900 doesn’t have a bold interior. So when compared to some of the German rivals it can seem more conservative and less lavish. But when compared to the equally-conservative Lexus it offers plenty of quality materials, and ample luxury along with high-end touchpoints. A nice feature that you don’t often see is heated and cooled rear seats (along with heated and cooled front seats). Rear legroom is tremendous with even long-legged adults enjoying the comfort afforded to them.

The infotainment system is simple and intuitive. The Kia has the huge advantage over Lexus in regard to the layout and ease of use of their infotainment system. The 12.3-inch touchscreen is responsive and there’s a nice mix of gauges too. There’s interaction with smartphones through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

FUEL ECONOMY

Fuel economy lags behind others in the segment. It has an EPA rating of 18 mpg/city and 25 mpg/highway. I averaged barely 20 mpg in a week’s worth of suburban driving, although this car does have all-wheel drive going for it, which does detract some from the fuel economy. I did get into the turbo a lot as I enjoyed that Stinger engine a bit too much at times.

PRICE

There is one trim only for the K900. Can I get a hallelujah for that? Base price is $59,900. With the VIP  Package, which included the rear ventilated seats, premium headliner and power adjustable rear seats, my tester had a final MSRP of $64,895. It may be hard to “justify” spending that kind of money on a Kia, but this car is as nice, if not nicer than most others in this segment.

It’s like that candidate you’re not sure about, in a crowded field. Give it a chance and it might become a front runner.

SPECS

2019 Kia K900

Price/As tested price…………………… $59,900/$64,895

Mileage……………………………………18 mpg/city; 25 mpg/hwy

Engine……………………………………… 3.3-liter V6

Horsepower…………………………… 365 hp/376 lbs./ft.

Transmission…………………………… 8-speed automatic

Drive Wheels……………………. All-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point…………………… Gwangmyeong, Korea

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Jimmy Dinsmore

For several years Jimmy Dinsmore has reviewed new vehicles, offering up a unique look and an interesting voice in his weekly column. Jimmy looks at vehicles from the consumer’s point of view. Light on the technical jargon, and lacking the cynicism that pervades many other auto reviews, Driver’s Side treats each vehicle fairly, offering a light-hearted take. Email him at - jimmydinsmore@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @driversside.

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