2015 Kia K900 Review
An excellent take on frugal luxury. Sportiness, though ...
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: August 29th, 2014
Wait, Kia builds a luxury car?"
That's the question that we were most often asked during our week with the K900. It's certainly not the car you'd expect from a brand that built its name by offering cheap, yet option-packed versions of already-affordable mainstream options. There's a Kia option for nearly every segment now - small crossovers, mid-size family sedans, minivans, you name it. Now, finally, we have a Kia option for the full-size luxury market. Will it butt heads against the Hyundai Equus? There's a good chance of that. But the K900 is also a serious value proposition that will get even the most image-conscious businesspeople to consider moving away from the typical German stalwarts that occupy this position in the market.
It's also a great throwback to the classic luxo-barges of the 1980s, because the K900 may or may not handle like an Oldsmobile Delta 88.
The K900's interior is not nearly as mind-blowing as the Mercedes S-Class; but, for about half the price, it remains impressive. Every material within hand's reach feels nice; even the wood trim has some expensive-feeling density to it. The buttons are laid out sensibly, much in the same way that they are in the new 2015 Hyundai Genesis - vehicle functions to the right of the steering wheel, infotainment and HVAC controls in the center cluster, and driving-related functions (auto parking brake, driving modes) right next to the shifter. It all makes sense.
In an unusual move, there is no touchscreen functionality for the infotainment display. Instead, as with Audi's MMI system, you're left to use just a dial and a small handful of buttons. Once you get the idea of how it works, it's easy to flick through menus and maps without becoming too distracted; there's something refreshing about not having to guess where a finger is landing on a screen.
As for the remainder of the interior, it's an awfully comfortable place to spend some time. The front seats have tons of space, and the seats themselves are quite comfortable. The rear seat legroom is great, although the rear headroom is a bit on the lacking side unless you recline the seat a bit (a move that requires you to tick the $6,000 option box for the VIP package). There is more trunk space than you will likely ever need.
The K900 is eye-catching, that's for sure. Seen in profile, you see a standard silhouette that looks like any other luxury car. From the front, though, you'll get hit by those standard LED headlights, arranged in a way that makes you wonder if the designer was an entomologist in a past life. The rear taillights borrow a little bit from the Audi A8 (the chrome strip between the tails) and the Lexus LS (the general shape of the rear tails), but when you look at the C-pillar and other body panels, it's unmistakably Kia.
Even though this is meant to be a full-on proper luxury car, Kia still saw fit to include fake vents on the front fenders. That's the low point of the design; fake vents on a car that costs $60,000? Come on.
On the Road
The K900's suspension is soft. Hoo boy, it's soft. The suspension, which isn't adjustable, soaks up every bump and undulation on the road, delivering little more than a slight shudder of the steering wheel. That's all well and good for casual driving, but the second you throw the car into Sport to try to have some fun, the chassis' shortcomings become evident. Between the body roll and the soft pedals, it's hard for you to really get going with confidence. That said, if you're looking for the best of all worlds, you should probably start upping your budget and looking to the Germans. If you want to stay comfortable all the time, though, the Kia is a mighty fine choice.
Speaking of different modes, there are three - Eco, Normal, and Sport. Eco does a great job of keeping things efficient; we had no problem outperforming the EPA-estimated 23 mpg highway, although no matter what mode we were in, gas mileage went through the floor in city driving. Sport mode definitely tightens up the throttle, but again, due to the chassis, you can't really get much more than some straight-line action. The 420-horsepower V-8 has no problems breaking the rear wheels loose at low speeds under judicious throttle, but it remains pretty damn quiet throughout most of the rev range. But again, it's meant to be full-on luxury, and noise doesn't really fit in with that image.
When you buy a Kia, you know you're getting a good value; the K900's fully-loaded price ($66,400 on the window sticker) is roughly half the price of a fully-loaded 7-Series or S-Class. However, with that value comes some sacrifice - namely, chassis tuning. Frankly speaking, the Germans have been at it for much longer than the Koreans have, and it shows. If you can overlook that, though, and you only want your luxury car to provide a supple ride with ample passing power, the K900 is a winner through and through.
Specs & Price
Engine: 5.0-liter, naturally-aspirated V-8
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Power Output: 420 hp / 376 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 15 city / 23 highway
Base Price: $59,500
As Tested: $66,400 (incl. $900 destination)
VIP Package: 360-degree cameras, adaptive cruise control, upgraded instrument display, head-up display, soft-close doors, 16-way power adjustable driver's seat with extendable cushion, power-adjustable front seat headrests, lateral adjusting rear headrests, rear seat power lumbar support, ventilated rear seats, power reclining rear seats
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Kia K900, click here: 2015 Kia K900.