By Andrew Bornhop -- Contributing Editor
As the Korean automaker’s flagship model, the 2016 Kia K900 is designed to help us forget the brand’s economy roots and welcome this luxury offering into an impressive family of big sedans that includes the aforementioned Audi and BMW, plus the Lexus LS, Cadillac XTS, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and even its Hyundai Equus corporate cousin. That’s heady competition, and the K900 is equipped for battle with abundant amenities and a price that undercuts those cars. While $50,000 for any Kia might seem like a stretch, the build quality of this sedan is as solid as the ride is soft. It’s also a quiet car, and the V-6’s model’s EPA fuel economy of 17-mpg city/26-mpg highway compares favorably to the V-8’s 15/23.
If you’re looking for a big, powerful, rear-wheel-drive sedan that's comfortable, quiet and soft, the 2016 Kia K900 is just that, at a price that's some $10,000-$20,000 below the competition.
Although we respect Kia’s decision to take on Europe's luxury sedans, the company still has work to do. Namely, the K900 lacks their refined steering and suspension. What’s more, some may struggle to pay that much for a Kia, a carmaker most famous for its Soul and Optima models.
In its second year, the Kia K900 now comes standard with a 311-horsepower V-6 and a starting price of about $50,000. For that price, you still get a car with navigation, a leather interior and a panoramic sunroof. The V-6 models have 18-inch wheels in place of the V-8’s 19s.
The 2016 Kia K900 favors comfort over performance, so it’s a good companion for long trips. Whereas other Kias can feel a bit stiff, the K900 is borderline too soft...
... and floaty, which means you won’t relish twisty roads in this car, thanks also to electric-assist steering that needs constant minor corrections. Selecting Sport mode tightens the steering, but doesn't improve the communication with the front wheels. Power is more than adequate, especially in V8 models. As in 2015, a comfortable driving position is easy to find, thanks to a 12-way or 16-way-adjustable seat. Controls for the climate/navigation/audio functions are easy to use. An available multi-view camera system, along with a blind-spot warning system, provides the driver with some added security.
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 2016 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 cavernous 5-passenger cabin filled with amenities. In Korea, this car is often used as livery for executives, and it's easy to see why. The rear seats boast loads of legroom, and they even have a reclining function. Sunshades afford privacy, and rear passengers can control the climate functions via a panel in the armrest. The front seats are equally comfortable, and the steering wheel has attractive wood trim. Although Nappa leather is available, it's not as soft as what the competitors offer.
The K900 takes the curvy good looks of the Optima and Cadenza, and stretches them. As such, 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, but the portholes on the front fenders are a bit too reminiscent of a Buick. When the K900 is parked and locked, its side mirrors automatically fold inward, helping to prevent them from getting knocked off by other cars or bicyclists.
Kia has a habit of packing even its smallest cars with amenities, so it's no surprise that its flagship K900 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. For added safety, 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 free scheduled maintenance.
The range-topping V8 Luxury model can be ordered with a $5,000 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 2016 Kia K900 is available with a 311-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 or a 420-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine. Each mates to an 8-speed automatic transmission with new shift paddles on the steering wheel. The K900 is a rear-wheel-drive sedan; an all-wheel-drive model is not available. The responsiveness of either engine can be set by the driver into Normal, Sport, Eco and Snow modes. As mentioned, the V8 fuel economy is not great, rated at only 18 mpg combined city/highway on premium-grade gasoline. The V6 fares much better, running on regular grade and returning a respectable 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
With a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $50,000 in V6 Premium form, the 2016 K900 is still the highest priced Kia today. That stated, with the exception of the Hyundai Equus, Kia's flagship sedan is priced far below the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Lexus LS, which begin in the mid-$70,000 range and climb from there. In contrast, a fully loaded 2016 Kia K900 peaks at about $70,000. Acura's flagship, the RLX, starts at less than $50,000, and Cadillac’s XTS begins in the mid-$40,000 range, but these are both front-drive base models. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for the 2016 Kia K900. This Kia is a lot of car for the money, and since the K900 is in only its second year here in the U.S., we will soon have a better handle on its resale value.