The Kia brand has certainly come a long way in a relatively short time here in America. Particularly in the last few years where it has been pushing the boundaries of what people expect from a Korean car maker. And the boundary pushing continues as the brand launches an all-new rear-drive premium luxury sedan, the K900. So it’s a Kia that’s all dressed up. But, does the K900 have anywhere to go?
The 2015 Kia K900 is not a new car, just new to us; an Americanized version of the K9 already sold in Korea. It’s based on the current generation Hyundai Genesis/Equus chassis, and much like what those cars have done for Hyundai, Kia is looking for the K900 to push their brand up-market, ditching the entry level tag once and for all.
Our first impressions are that it indeed has all of the necessary pieces for entry into the rear-drive luxury sedan ranks. Suspension tuning is unique to the K900 and noticeably sportier than the Hyundai sedans; but remains luxury-minded, as it still tends to float around corners more than swim through them. Think more Lexus than BMW.
The interior is perhaps the most important nut to crack if you want to join the luxury car league; and as for the K900’s confines… Sophisticated? Yes. Opulent? No.
The leather and wood materials are the real deal, as they should be. There’s a 12-inch configurable TFT IP screen, available Head Up Display, and a standard 17-speaker, 900-watt Lexicon audio system. In a nod to its perceived German competition, there’s a console mounted central controller for the center stack’s 9-inch infotainment screen.
Driver comfort was obviously a priority as front seats are very plush, with plenty of fine tuning adjustments. There’s good room in the back seat for stretching out. That’s actually the best place to take in the K900’s luxury experience; especially if you opt for the VIP package, which includes seat recline and ventilation. Trunk space is fittingly capricious at 15.9 cubic-ft, and all doors close with a very solid sounding luxury car thump.
A high-class appealing exterior design, while not quite as important as the interior, is pretty imperative if you plan on impressing your friends and neighbors.
And here we think the K900 falls a little short. The looks are almost a direct copy of the front-drive Cadenza. Proportions appear more muscle car than elegant luxury sedan with a raked stance accompanying its 119.9-inch wheelbase, some brawny rear fenders, and over 16½-feet of overall length. 19-inch wheels and LED headlights are standard on V8 models.
That V8 is from the Genesis: a 5.0-liter 420-horse unit with 376 lb-ft. of torque. A 3.8-liter V6 comes later. However, unlike most large prestige sedans, all-wheel-drive will not be. Both engines connect to an 8-speed automatic transmission with Eco, Normal, and Sport modes.
With Sport mode engaged our K900 responded with a healthy grunt and a romp to 60 in a really decent 6.0–seconds. From there, this rear-drive Kia gets down the track smoothly; with both power delivery and shift quality worthy of a luxury car. The full ¼-mile pass took 14.5-seconds at 101 miles-per-hour.
Handling is clearly in the luxury car stratosphere with a plush feel that encourages relaxation more than aggression. Both front and rear suspensions are multi-link. But, as expected are more capable at soaking up road imperfections than dealing out grip. Steering feel is also lacking. On the other hand, braking performance was very good for a 45-hundred pound luxury cruiser with panic stops from 60 averaging 123-feet.
A flagship sedan needs to showcase modern safety systems, and the K900 checks a lot of the boxes with Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Surround View Monitor, and Blind Spot Detection, all standard with the V8.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings come in at 15-City, 23-Highway, and 18-Combined using “natch”, Premium gas.
While Kia has unquestionably aimed high with this car, it’s still the “7-Series package for a 5-Series price” value proposition that is its biggest appeal. Base V8 models start at $60,400. Now, for those of you that can’t stomach shelling out that much for a Kia, the forthcoming V6 K900 will have fewer features and should sticker for at least 5-grand less.
So, is there really a place for the 2015 Kia K900? Yes, well sort of. It’s a great car and even greater value. We’re just not sure who’s going to buy it as it may only appeal to those with stealth wealth. And, maybe a prime example of just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should.
Long Term Updates
Date: September 2014
It’s hard to believe that fall is creeping upon us. But should some weekend leaf peeping be on the agenda, our 2015 Kia K900 will be a great way to take in the changing colors. As this luxury minded full-sizer is certainly a new shade of car from the changing Kia brand here in the U.S.
In two months, we’ve quickly racked up 4,000 miles and found that while the K’s 5.0-liter V8 produces great power, it does hesitate a bit off the line before things kick in with earnest.
It’s also thirsty as you might expect, though our 19.1 miles-per-gallon average of Premium is one better than the Government’s Combined rating.
Finally, our drivers have nothing but praise for the great interior and the smooth 8-speed automatic transmission, making the K… A.O.K. so far.
Date: January 2015
Things continue to progress smoothly with our most luxurious long-termer, the 2015 Kia K900.
The 5.0-liter V8 and 8-speed automatic dynamic duo has so far delivered a respectable 19.7 miles-per-gallon of Premium, over the last 14,000-miles and 6-months.
While our log book continues with mostly praise for the K900, this latest period has revealed a few quirks.
First of all, the rain sensing intermittent windshield wipers seem to have a hard time sensing when they’re actually needed. And secondly, we’re starting to hear some driveline clunks at lower speeds, mostly right after a cold start.
But aggressive water clearing and questionable noises aside; we still love the effortless cruising, easy to use controls, and jammin’ stereo system that make our daily commutes a high society joy, particularly when we put things in Sport Mode and eliminate the slow wallowing steering feel.
Being a rarity on public roads, the K900 still has the power to attract a crowd, and to surprise them when you tell them it’s a Kia.
And most are just as impressed as we’ve been with the level of interior quality and luxury demeanor that it provides.
Date: March 2015
So far, our long term road test with this Kia K900 full-size sedan is going great. And like many luxury cars stuck in our mid-Atlantic winter, the K900 recently took a trip south.
On that 2,800-mile road trip, our staffer came away very impressed with Kia’s first true foray into the luxury market.
The K900’s ride was smooth and relaxed throughout; and the amount of space and comfort in the back seat was enough to make the front seaters jealous.
The navigation system worked well, and there was room enough for a family of 4’s luggage behind the power operated trunk lid.
Fuel economy has stayed fairly steady over the last 7-months and 18,000-miles, now at 19.7 miles-per-gallon of Premium; not terrible for a powerful feeling 5.0-liter V8. The 8-speed automatic transmission certainly helps too…
Date: May 2015
Rollin’ in our 5-point-0, the Kia edition, in our classy K900; has been a mostly positive experience. With equal amounts of V8 power and A+ posh being delivered from this King of Kias.
The odometer now reads 23,000-miles, and mileage from that 5.0-liter with 8-speed automatic, has crept up a bit to 19.9 miles-per-gallon of Premium.
It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses however; as we’ve had some glitches with the radio quitting temporarily; and at times, with a hyper-sensitive blind spot monitor. Both of which seem to have mitigated themselves before a trip to the dealer was necessary.
Date: July 2015
While luxury comes in many shapes and sizes; more often than not, it’s big in size and bold in shape. That’s our long-term Kia K900.
You may not know what it is when you see it, but it won’t be denied, as the K900 always turns heads followed by, “that’s a Kia?”
Over the last 12–months and 26,000-miles, we’ve subjected this luxury liner to everything from weddings to family vacations. But hey, wait a minute; this clearly isn’t a traditional family four-door.
That’s obvious by the ultra-plush interior, limo-like rear seat, and the smooth, powerful V8 engine.
Fuel economy is steady at 19.9 miles-per-gallon of Premium, and there are no mechanical issues.
The K900 fully delivers as a flagship Kia, fully displaying what this once upstart brand is now capable of.
Date: August 2015
How to wrap up 12 months’ worth of luxury in 1-minute? Well for starters, you talk about what a pleasure it was putting 27,000-miles of comfy cruising on our long-term 2015 Kia K900.
As a flagship to show the brand’s capabilities, it is without question a big success. Sales have been another story; luxury buyers are a tough nut to crack, tending to stick with brands that carry the highest cache for their cash, rather than the most bang for the buck.
And while the merits of trickle-down economics can be argued about all day long, the luxury feel that has trickled down from the K900 into this 2016 Sorento is proof of that, in the car world at least, it’s a good thing. We’ll find out just how good over the next year.
Torque: 376 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.5 seconds @ 101 mph
EPA: 15 mpg city/ 23 mpg highway