2015 Kia K900Posted on October 13th, 2014
High-luxury sedan focuses on value
By Nina Russin
I have driven the K900, Kia’s first vehicle entry into the high-luxury segment, to the coffee shop where I meet friends for breakfast. As I usher the sedan into its parking spot, I can see their noses pasted up against the front window of the restaurant.
“What’s that”? is the first question I hear as I walk through the door.
“The Kia K900,? I reply. “It’s Kia’s answer to the S-Class.”
“That’s a Kia?” my buddy Jeff remarks. “That’s a sharp looking car.”
“It’s huge,” adds Big Ed, who likes everything in his life to be, well, big. “That thing’s bigger than my Mercedes.” And with that they’re out the door.
“Check this out,” chimes Jeff as he opens the back door and slides into the back seat. “Man, there’s tons of room back here.”
“Enough for you and your bicycle,” I reply.
Ed is still comparing the K900 to his Mercedes-Benz CLS.
“A Kia,” he says. “Huh.”
The jury’s still out as to whether Kia will be able to lure current German luxury car owners away from their current vehicles. But there is no doubt that Kia’s full-sized luxury sedan can compete on every level: style, comfort and most important, performance.
Despite being a luxury car, the K900 still speaks to the brand’s core philosophy of great value. Although its $59,500 base price is by no means inexpensive, it is significantly lower than the Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series the K900 competes against.
A VIP option package on the test car adds adaptive cruise control, thin-film-transistor instrument cluster, heads-up display, surround-view monitor, power headrests, power reclining rear seats, ventilated rear seats and rear seat lumbar support. Final MSRP, including the $900 delivery charge is $66,400.
Test drive in the Superstition Mountains
My first experience in the K900 was at the media launch last spring in Orange County, California. For this test drive, I headed northeast out of Phoenix to the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. I wanted to see how a change in altitude would impact the sedan’s fuel economy, and test steering feedback as well as the suspension on some two-lane rural roads. The drive also included time on freeways in the Phoenix, Chandler and Scottsdale, Arizona metropolitan areas.
On the fuel economy front the sedan did quite well, exceeding the 23 mile-per-gallon EPA estimate for highway driving. The five-liter direct injection V-8 engine has power to spare, delivering 420 horsepower and 376 foot-pounds of torque. The power is important for a car of this size and mass. Curb weight for the K900 with the V-8 engine is 4,555 pounds. The wheelbase is just short of 120 inches, allowing that extra legroom in the back seats my buddy Jeff was so impressed by.
The electric power steering system feels a bit numb for my taste, especially when compared to the car’s direct competitors. Electric power steering systems have the advantage of fewer moving parts and hence fewer repairs, as well as less weight, contributing to better gas mileage. The problem is in on-center response. While I by no means felt disconnected from the wheels, I would have preferred crisper performance.
The suspension, however, is quite good, featuring MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam rear end. I’m not sure what the reasoning was behind the live rear axle, but it works on the car. There is no hop at high speeds, nor any of the clunking that can be the bane of solid rear ends.
Visibility to the front and sides of the vehicle is good. Standard blind spot monitoring makes it easier to maneuver through dense traffic by illuminating LED signals in the side mirrors when cars in adjacent lanes pass through the driver?s blind spots. A standard heads-up display projects the speedometer at the base of the windshield to minimize driver distraction.
I would recommend the VIP option package for the adaptive cruise control and surround-view monitor: both big perks for commuters in urban areas.
Engineers did an excellent job on NVH. The interior is pleasantly quiet, allowing passengers in both rows of seating to converse or enjoy the standard Infinity audio system.
The K900’s long wheelbase creates an exceptionally spacious second-row. Separate controls and reclining seats mean that second-row passengers get first class seating.
Keyless entry and start saves the driver from fumbling for the keys. I found the infotainment controls easy to reach and intuitive to operate. I had no problems reading either the gauge cluster or center stack screen in bright sunlight.
Power driver’s seat controls accommodate individuals of all sizes, with ample lower lumbar support. Memory settings make it easier for multiple family members to share the car.
The surround-view monitor is helpful in parking a car of this size, giving the driver a view around the entire perimeter of the car.
The dual pane panoramic sunroof adds a welcome dose of ambient light inside the vehicle.
The sedan’s spacious trunk can easily hold luggage, moderate sized camping equipment, golf bags and the weekly groceries. There is no pass-through on the car, so cyclists and skiers would be better served with one of Kia’s crossover vehicles.
The Kia K900 comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, tire pressure monitoring, blind spot detection with cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, front and rear camera display.
The factory 10-year/100,000 mile warranty includes five years of 24-hour roadside assistance, up to 60,000 miles.
The K900 is on display at Kia dealerships nationwide.
Like: A stylish, powerful luxury sedan with an exceptionally spacious back seat and strong engine.
Dislike: Soft on-center response at higher speeds.
Base price: $59,500
As tested: $66,400
Horsepower: 420 Hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 376 lbs.-ft. @ 5000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 15/23 mpg city/highway
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