Will the luxury KH sedan finally erase Kia’s low-rent reputation?

Kia KH frontKia used to make the cheapest cars sold in the United States, but now it is reaching for new heights of prestige. The Korean carmaker just released renderings of a large sedan, codenamed KH, that will debut later this year. The drawings show a sedan that adds some formality to the design language of existing Kias, like the Optima. The LED headlights vaguely resemble those of a BMW. Kia’s signature grille is more upright and sports vertical bars instead of the usual mesh, another upscale detail. A sculpted line runs through the door handles, making the car look more taut and breaking up the large flanks most modern cars need to pass side-impact crash tests. There are also some side vents that look like they came off a Maserati, or a Buick.

Kia did not release technical details, other than the rear-drive layout, but it would not be a stretch for Kia to borrow the platform from parent company Hyundai’s Genesis.

Kia showed a rear-wheel-drive sedan concept at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, the GT Concept, powered by a 3.3-liter turbocharged V6. It is unclear whether the KH will be powered by that engine or by the Genesis’ range of engines (a 3.8-liter V6, 4.6-liter V8, and 5.0-liter V8).

Soon Nam Lee, Kia’s overseas marketing director, said the KH will launch during the first half of this year. It will go on sale in Korea first, then all major markets except Europe and the UK. Kia has no plans to sell the new sedan in either market.

Kia KH rear

Kia started out at the lowest end of the price spectrum, only positive aspect being their low cost. Through continuous quality improvement and a good warranty, Kias became competitive in the mainstream segments dominated by Japanese and American brands. Thanks to former Audi designer Peter Schreyer, new models like the Optima and Sportage have some style to match that substance.

Every fleet needs a flagship, though, and this is not Kia’s first attempt. The Amanti, sold from 2003 to 2010, was a solid car but lacked the charisma to change people’s minds about the brand. If the KH is a success, Kia will truly be able to shake off its reputation for low quality.

If the KH is anything like the Hyundai Genesis, it will also be a major challenge to the status quo. Its large size and rear-wheel-drive invite comparisons with luxury liners like the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The Genesis offered the luxury of those German brands for a fraction of the price. Could Kia do the same for even less money? Or will the idea of a luxury Kia be too radical for consumers to accept?

Product Review

Volvo’s redesigned 2019 S60 sedan is the best kind of remix

The 2019 Volvo S60 borrows almost everything from other recent Volvo models, but that’s not a problem. From its infotainment system to an available plug-in hybrid powertrain, the S60 takes the best bits from a lineup of great cars.

'4WD' or 'AWD'? Which setup is right for you?

Although four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) are related, they are actually quite different in how they operate. Here, we talk about the fundamental differences between the two systems, and what it means for you as a driver.

Room to roam: The supersized X7 is unlike any BMW you’ve ever seen

The first-ever BMW X7 is the 7 Series of the SUV world in terms of size, price, and image. Its supersized body has enough room for seven adult passengers and enough tech to impress even the most cutting-edge buyers.
Product Review

The 2019 Volvo V60 proves it's still cool to drive a station wagon

With the 2019 V60, Volvo argues the station wagon segment isn't as moribund as most other automakers say it is. The company goes as far as arguing we're on the cusp of a wagon revival, and the V60 is poised to lead the charge.

Porsche upgrades German factory to build Taycan electric cars

A Porsche factory that currently builds the automaker's popular sports cars will soon begin churning out Taycan electric cars. In preparation, Porsche is upgrading the factory to be high tech and low emissions.

Vanderhall Carmel adds creature comforts to the basic three-wheeler formula

The Vanderhall Carmel is the fifth three-wheeler from Utah-based Vanderhall Motor Works. It takes the basic design of the Vanderhall Venice and adds a handful of creature comforts, as well as a more powerful engine.

Race car or daily driver? Choose either with the 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS

Porsche has expanded the Panamera lineup with a midrange, GTS-badged model. Part race car and part daily driver, it's the variant we've been waiting for since the current-generation Panamera arrived in 2017.
Emerging Tech

Shrimp eyes inspire new camera focused on helping self-driving cars see better

By mimicking the vision of mantis shrimp, researchers were able to make significant improvements on today’s commercial cameras. They hope their technology can help mitigate accidents by letting self-driving vehicles see more clearly.

‘Bloodhound’ rocket car needs a speedy cash injection to survive

The rocket-powered Bloodhound car has driven into difficulties, with the company behind the project needing a multi-million-dollar cash injection to save its dream of attempting a 1,000 mph land speed record.

Double your charging speed with Nomad’s Tesla Model 3 wireless charger

Nomad's wireless charger for the Tesla Model 3 fits the EV's charging dock exactly. If you plug both of the Nomad's into the Model 3's two front USB ports you can charge two smartphones quickly or one phone twice as fast.

Watch this 1,000-horsepower Jeep Trackhawk scorch supercars in the quarter mile

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is pretty quick out of the box, but Texas tuner Hennessey Performance Engineering never settles for stock. Its HPE1200 Trackhawk boasts over 1,000 horsepower.

Hold on to your butts: These are the fastest cars in the world

Think your car is unbelievably fast? Think again. From wind-cheating bodywork to powerful engines, these cars were designed for the singular pursuit of speed (and it shows).

Google Maps now shows EV owners the way to the nearest charging station

Google Maps now lets electric-car owners find the nearest charging station with ease. It's also added data on the number and types of ports available, charging speeds, and notes on the business where the station is located.

Heads up, George Jetson: Terrafugia starts taking orders for its flying car

The Terrafugia Transition flying car will go on sale next year, roughly a decade after the first prototype rolled out of its hangar. Terrafugia promises improvements, including a hybrid powertrain, to make up for the long wait.