The all-new 2015 Kia K900 is a different twist on luxury and there will be buyers who find this plush ride as just the right luxury experience for them. Kia sees these buyers as "confident individualists, who are tech-obsessed, international in attitude and lifestyle and looking for something intriguing."
On the other hand, some car shoppers may be surprised to see that Kia is introducing a rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan that starts at $59,500. And some affluent buyers might question the Korean automaker's "flagship car" that is designed and engineered to compete with BMW, Audi, Mercedes and Lexus sedans.
None of this is a surprise to me, however, and a number of reasons come quickly to mind: The timing is right. It's Kia's 20th year of selling cars in the U.S., evolving with a thoughtful progression through nearly every segment of the market. By now the company has proven its models are dependable and durable, as well as value-priced and well-equipped, boasting a long list of standard features, including the most up-to-date technology and safety elements. Kia and its cars have been given a strong vote of confidence, too, and in 2013, Kia sold more than 500,000 cars in the U.S.
The first thing a shopper will notice is the K900's confident good looks and luxury-livery dimensions. Designed with a family resemblance to the strikingly styled Optima and Cadenza, the full-size sedan sits on a wheelbase of 119.9 inches (the same as the Hyundai Equus, its corporate cousin) and stretches to an overall length of 200.6 inches, which is slightly shorter than the Equus and close in size to the BMW 7 Series.
A long hood is set off with Kia's signature grille and gorgeous LED lamps that are designed to mimic natural sunlight; swooping from the front to the sides, they provide up to 12 degrees greater visibility in corners and feature auto light control to follow bends in the road. The four-door, five-seater has balanced overhangs front and rear, with muscular proportions leading to a back end that has inset dual exhaust tailpipes, attractive lighting design, and a power open/close trunk with generous stowage.
Weighing 4,550 pounds, the K900 sits on 245/45R-19 tires in front and 275/40R-19s at the rear, with attractive standard 19-inch chrome wheels with alloy finish. Among standard exterior features are power-folding, heated outside mirrors with auto-dimming LED signal indicators; laminated windshield and side door windows; and a large panoramic tilt/sliding sunroof with a power retractable sunshade on V-8 models.
Hefty doors cinch close and a premium cabin boasting uplevel trim details and thoughtful design touches speak to its luxury mission. Illuminated door sills with stainless steel scuff plate trim welcome the driver to a large and bright interior beset by accent lighting, genuine wood, and Nappa leather that graces many surfaces, including the 12-way adjustable power driver's seat with power lumbar support and the heated, power telescoping/height-adjustable steering wheel.
The K900 rides on an all-independent suspension, with multiple aluminum links at each corner and is endowed with all the premium features of today's uplevel cars that protect occupants with active and passive safety, including eight standard airbags.
Trim levels include the Premium V6 and V8. The Premium V6 is available with a Luxury Package and a Technology Package, while a VIP Package is available on the V8.
We drove the 2015 Kia K900 VIP with the V8, with a starting price of $65,500 (plus $900 delivery). Stepping into its lap-of-luxury ride, we enjoyed the power soft-close door latches and noticed the bright, well-appointed cabin that is set up as a mobile technology living room, with a well-executed design that's not too busy or cluttered.
Under the hood is Kia's first V-8 in the U.S. market. The 5.0-liter direct-injection engine promises 420 horsepower and 376 lb.-ft. of torque matched to a smooth-shifting eight-speed transmission. It features a drive select mode that allows for Normal, Sport, and ECO driving; these settings control the shift points and chassis settings. EPA fuel economy estimates are 15/23/18 mpg, city/highway/combined.
Once underway, we appreciated the new sedan's whisper-soft quietness and gentle-but-ample power on tap, with a nicely weighted throttle pedal. Although the K900 body feels heavy, it can move quickly when called upon.
Our 200-mile drive routed us along gentle back roads, tight corner sweepers, and some very busy highways to reveal steering, braking, suspension, and power are all what one would expect from a car of this class.
Inside, VIP features that we noted and liked include the surround view monitor (with a bird's-eye-view of what's around the car when it reverses), smart cruise control, and head up display that projects important driver information to the windshield. We were not impressed with the BMW-like gear shift.
Rear seat passengers will appreciate ample elbowroom, their own USB charging port, heated and cooled reclining seats, rear door window sunshades and power-operated rear window sunshade, and a pull-down center armrest with environmental controls and ski pass through.
Kia has gone through an unprecedented transformation and now reaches for a new buyer in America. Kia hopes luxury is game-changing. After all, it's Kia's 20th anniversary and you could say they're going for the gold.
Copyright © 2014 Motor Matters
|Base price||$65,500 (as tested: $66,400)|
|Curb weight||4,555 lbs.|
|Epa mileage rating||15 mpg city, 23 mpg highway|
|Fuel capacity||19.8 gal.|
|Horsepower (net)||420 at 6400 rpm|
|Motor type||32-valve V8 w/GDI|
|Overall length||200.6 in.|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||376 at 5000 rpm|
|Vehicle type||5-passenger RWD full-size sedan|
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