By Matt Degen
The 2015 Kia K900 is the Korean automaker's most expensive and luxurious car to date. This all-new full-size sedan is meant to further distance the brand from its economy-car roots and help it attract an audience that extends to well-heeled buyers in the market for more familiar flagships such as the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Lexus LS, Audi A8, and Cadillac XTS. Like its corporate cousin the Hyundai Equus, the K900 features powerful engine options and the rich amenities buyers demand in such luxury cars, but at a price that undercuts the competition. Still, at roughly $60,000, the K900 is sure to raise many an eyebrow, and while Kia's ultra sedan is powerful and quiet, it lacks the driving dynamics and cachet of its rivals.
If you want a big, powerful, rear-wheel-drive sedan that's quiet and comfortable, Kia's flagship delivers a lot of the creature comforts at a price that's $10,000-$20,000 below the competition.
The fact that Kia is taking on Europe's best luxury sedans is commendable, but there's no getting around it: The K900 lacks the satisfying driving characteristics its rivals have honed over the decades, and Kia – at least currently – doesn't incite much badge envy.
Following on the heels of the Cadenza premium sedan, the 2015 Kia K900 is all-new and represents Kia's dip into the luxury waters. It is the brand's first rear-drive sedan and paves new roads in terms of technology and safety features for Kia.
Driving Impressions The 2015 Kia K900 favors comfort over performance, making it a welcome partner for long trips. Whereas other Kias can feel stiff-legged, the K900's suspension commendably absorbs road imperfections. But...... the big Kia can also feel floaty and isn't particularly adept at attacking twisty roads. One of the K900's biggest weaknesses is its steering feel, or lack thereof. The electric steering is vague, meaning it doesn't relay the car's connection to the road like a BMW. Selecting "Sport" mode tightens the steering, but this doesn't rectify the issue. As for power, the K900's is more than adequate, especially in V8 models. That engine offers plenty of propulsion, but initial acceleration can lag. Driver position is good thanks to a 12-way or 16-way seat, and controls for climate/navigation/audio functions are easy to use. The available multi-view camera system takes some stress out of maneuvering this big sedan in tight spots.
LEXICON AUDIO SYSTEM
If there's one thing the Kia K900 does almost perfectly, it's reproduce music. This comes thanks to a standard 900-watt, 17-speaker Lexicon sound system that's been acoustically optimized for the K900's cabin. It's so fabulous that you may just drive the car as an excuse to hear it.
When you're not blissfully hearing your music library anew via the Lexicon audio system, the 2015 K900 rewards those seeking solace thanks to a cabin that feels as insulated as a Thermos.
The K900 lives up to its luxury status with a 5-passenger cabin filled with space and amenities. In Korea, this car is often used as livery for executives, and it's easy to see why. The rear seat boasts loads of legroom and is available with reclining functionality (sorry – no massage feature yet). Sunshades afford privacy, and a control module integrated into the rear armrest enables passengers to control climate functions. The comfortable front seats are an equally pleasant place to be. Nice touches include wood steering wheel and trim. Nappa leather is available, but it's not as soft as what competitors offer.Exterior
The K900 takes the windswept good looks of the Optima and Cadenza, and stretches them. The K900 makes an elegant statement with its 200-plus-inch length, numerous LED lights and 19-inch wheels (18-inch for V6 models). Overall, the big Kia appears sleek and hunkered-down. About the only questionable design elements are the port holes above and aft the front wheels. When parked and locked, the side mirrors automatically fold inward, which helps prevent them from getting knocked while also making a gee-whiz statement.
Kia of late has made a name for itself by packing even its smallest cars with amenities, so it's no surprise that its flagship is full of them. Even a base K900 has the superb Lexicon audio system, a 9.2-inch command screen, heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, leather, and a power-operated trunk. The standard navigation/infotainment system is brought to you by Kia's UVO voice-activated system. On the safety front, V8 models come with blind-spot monitoring, front and rear cameras to ease parking, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning. The K900 also comes with three years/37,500 miles of scheduled maintenance.
Range-topping V8 models of the K900 can be made more exclusive with a VIP package that includes radar-based cruise control, a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, a head-up display, power reclining rear seats, power-assisted door closing, and a snazzy surround-view camera system. Other extras include ventilated rear seats and a heated steering wheel (standard on V8 models, optional on the V6 trim).
The 2015 Kia K900 can be had with a V6 or V8 engine. Each is connected to an 8-speed transmission and is rear-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is not available). The 5.0-liter is the first V8 offered in a Kia sedan. The responsiveness of either engine can be adjusted by the driver between Normal, Sport, Eco and Snow modes. The V8 offers a lot of power, but fuel economy is only rated at 18 mpg combined on premium-grade gasoline. The V6 runs on regular grade and fares better with a combined EPA rating of 21 mpg.
311 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
293 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27 mpg
420 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
376 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23 mpg
At just over $60,000 in V8 form, the 2015 K900 arrives with the highest manufacturer's suggested price (MSRP) of any Kia to date. Though we expect V6 models to be a few thousand less, the K900 is still a major price leap over the roughly $36,000 Cadenza. With the exception of the Hyundai Equus, Kia's flagship sedan is priced below competitors such as the Lexus LS, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8, which begin in the mid-$70,000 range and climb from there. In contrast, a loaded K900 crests around $66,000. Undercutting the Kia are Acura's flagship, the RLX, starting under $50,000, and the Cadillac XTS in the mid-$40,000 range, though both are front-drive in base form. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying. The K900 offers a lot for the money, but harder to quantify is just how much badge appeal that money grants, and the K900's for-now-unknown resale value.