Automakers are really focused on the more than half of new vehicle buyers looking for something other than cars and minivans; however, Kia took the occasion of the New York Auto Show to remind the world that they still make those vehicles too.
The South Korean automaker unveiled three new vehicles – Optima, Sedona and K900 – in the Big Apple.
The Optima is Kia’s best-selling midsize sedan and gets a refresh for the 2019 model year. Midsize vehicles are still big sellers in the U.S., right behind trucks and utility vehicles, so getting an updated Optima into the market is important.
“The Optima continues to be one of our best-sellers for good reason; its stand-out design sets it apart from other cars in the midsize segment,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, Kia Motors America.
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“The 2019 refresh sharpens the overall design inside and out and we are making a number of ADAS technologies standard across the entire Optima line, which underlies the tremendous value Optima offers. A new approach to our award-winning telematics system, UVO, will make it easier for buyers to understand its features and UVO link includes an embedded modem. The new two-tone sport seats are for those looking to differentiate their Optima with unique European-inspired design cues.”
The Optima gets new design cues inside and out, more ADAS technology, a new UVO infotainment system and the aforementioned design Hedrick mentioned. Additional available enhancements to the Optima line include new alloy wheel choices, ambient LED interior lighting, and a new Passion Red exterior color.
The Optima’s debut is joined by another “workhorse” type vehicle, the Sedona. The automaker calls it a crossover, but it skews minivan. It also received an evolutionary rework rather than a complete makeover.
Much like the midsize segment, minivans are competitive with two offerings dominating the market. To try to keep up with the big dogs, Kia enhanced the Sedona’s technology and amenities as well as improved powertrain offering that will improve performance and fuel efficiency.
At its core, it’s a people mover and it makes carting folks around better than ever … at least for the passengers. The rear entertainment system adds 10.1-inch dual touchscreens located on the back of the front seats, replacing the outgoing model’s single overhead screen.
Upgraded with a dual core CPU, the system now has smartphone-mirroring functionality and internet access via the user’s compatible smartphone, meaning passengers can play their favorite online videos on the screens while using wireless Bluetooth-enabled headphones with enhanced comfort and sound quality.
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The outgoing Sedona’s Infinity sound system has been swapped out for an available Harman Kardon premium audio system that pumps out music through eight speakers. There are also additional USB charging points available, including one in the rear cargo area, which is convenient for tailgating-style events.
The workhorses are improved, but the K900 – perhaps best-known because LeBron James is its celebrity endorser – gets completely redesigned for 2019 and makes its global debut in New York.
“The all-new 2019 K900 is much more than a generational redesign, as it takes on a whole new look, feel and character over its predecessor. Only its name – K900 – is carried over,” Hedrick said.
Sophisticated and stately are the terms Kia uses to describe the new K900. It’s a longer and wider car giving it an athletic feel while maintaining that upscale look. Kia’s designers were inspired by a design ethic they call ‘The Gravity of Prestige,’ and this all-encompassing philosophy translates to a feeling of solidity and volume in the upscale space.
Based conceptually on the ever-changing shape of condensed energy, a new ‘Quadric pattern’ signature grille is the focal point of the K900. There are 176 jewel-like ‘cells’ within the grille, suggestive of released energy accelerating away from its center in the way ripples in water move away from the impact of a splash.
On the inside, the designers wanted occupants to feel like they were in their own cocoon, Kia noted. Surrounded by soft-touch materials, and of course plenty of leather, is supported by a slew of infotainment technology that is really the entry point for luxury vehicles.
The center console features a tactile port dial that is both convenient and intuitive for driver operation of the 12.3-inch Human Machine Interface touchscreen that displays maps, trip information, audio sources, climate controls and more.
A newly designed, modem-based Premium Navigation system comes equipped with enhanced user-friendly features accessible via Kia’s UVO luxe sub-brand, dedicated exclusively to K900 owners. UVO luxe offers a full suite of remote features through an embedded modem in the vehicle and accessible once the UVO account is created on the myUVO.com website and the vehicle is enrolled.
UVO luxe telematics features can be used from the desktop, tablet, or dedicated UVO luxe app, and all three access points allow remote start, setting of preferred cabin temperature, or easy to use features, such as Find My Car. K900 owners are also provided with a dedicated service representative reachable through a VIP phone line.
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All three of Kia’s New York debuts will be in dealer showrooms this year.