2019 Kia K900 First Drive: Stealth Wealth

Ever since Lehman Brothers collapsed nearly a decade ago, there’s been a rising anti-capitalist, anti-rich sentiment that’s permeated through college campuses and parts of America like some kind of toxic shiver. It’s become vogue to keep your indulgences under the radar, and this concept of stealth wealth is why a brand like Kia has managed to carve out a unique niche in the luxury segment.

When Kia brought the K900 to the U.S. in 2013, it was little more than an experiment the brand was hoping could help banish the perception that its cars were still cheap, low-quality wares for the proletariat. The K900 was already succeeding in its Korean domestic market, and abroad in parts of the Middle East and Russia, where its plush ride, solid construction, and understated presence quickly made it popular with those who didn’t want the ostentatious baggage associated with big barges from the West. When it landed in America, LeBron James even drove one for a bit.

Napa Valley’s rolling vineyards, mountain vistas, and spaghetti-like roads serve as the setting for a sample of the second-generation K900. On the surface this was just another of the mild, mid-week wine tours the region is famous for, but from the cockpit the story was a little bit different.

See, the U.S.-market K900 isn’t like what’s sold in the rest of the world. In the car’s key markets, it's softer and smoother becau...