When models aren’t catching on, it can be tough for an automaker to say goodbye. Take Kia’s Stinger. It got off to a slow start and hasn’t set any sales records, but Kia plugs away at selling the premium sports sedan. Sadly though, the brand can’t keep the dream alive for every model. Car and Driver reports that the K900 and Cadenza have both been killed off.
The models were rolling question marks in the first place, but the Cadenza made more sense than the K900. It was Kia’s answer to the Toyota Avalon in a way (along with its Hyundai Azera cousin). Sitting between the Optima and K900, it was relatively big and comfortable, but not too expensive, for those buyers who weren’t badge-driven. It was even sometimes called a budget BMW 5 Series competitor. Some outlets even had the balls to actually pit them against each other.
But no matter how much of a value it was, customers ignored it. Sales numbers were consistently low since the model’s 2013 introduction. Its best years were 2013 and 2014, moving 8,626 and 9,267 respectively. It never gained momentum after 2015, with just over 1,200 sales in 2020. Like many Korean models, they are a steal on the used market. Avoid the 2017 models, though as it was the first year of the new model, and they tend to have lower than average reliability.
The K900 is a different story. Who would’ve thought that the company that made its introduction to the U.S. with the cheap Sephia would be selling a $60,000 luxury sedan some 20 years later? But Kia did it, with the K900 (and its Hyundai Equus cousin) making its introduction in 2012; 2015 for the U.S. It was impressive for sure. The fit, finish and overall quality of the vehicle were at levels never before seen in a Kia. The K900's price also undercut its competitors like the Lexus LS, Mercedes S-Class, and BMW 7 Series by thousands. It came with standard features the competition charged extra for, and it had the best warranty in the business.
In 2018 we saw an almost Bentley-like redesign and a move from V8 engines to a twin-turbo V6 shared with the Stinger. But Kia’s legacy of being cheap haunted the K900, and buyers ignored it. Its sales numbers were low. Its introduction model years were its best years, selling 1,330 and 2,524 in 2015. The last four years? Sales have never reached 1,000 — just 305 in 2020.
These sales numbers of course point to a general decline in sales of sedans. Luxobarges in particular have been taking a hit. Strong sellers like the Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class have seen their sales numbers decline. At their peaks, both the LS and S Class were selling over 30,000 units. Recently? The Lexus LS only sold 3,650 in 2020; 8,589 for the S Class. To put these numbers into perspective, keep in mind that the S-Class is and has been the segment’s best-seller.
The reason for the low sales and demise of the K900 and Cadenza are simple, though. These were simply models that customers didn’t want from Kia. Even now, Hyundai and Kia have trouble shaking their econocar past.