A $66,000 KIA
We drive the 2015 Kia K900
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Wed, Oct 15, 2014
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Reed “The Traffic Guy” Berry
I’m driving a $66,000 Kia.
Stop laughing. It’s true.
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re correct. There was a time – and not that long ago – when in order to have a Kia worth $66K you would have to buy a new Kia and fill the trunk with $50,000 in cash. Kia has really been stepping it up in the areas of quality and design (take the sporty, great looking Optima, for example), so I knew it wouldn’t be long before they jumped into the luxury car segment. They have done it in a BIG way with the handsome new 2015 Kia K900.
It’s big and impressive and, at first glance, doesn’t really look like a Kia. From one angle it looks a bit like a Jaguar, and from another it appears rather Maserati-like. But it is a Kia, so now one must wonder if a car buyer with $70K in their pocket would opt for the K900 or would drive right past the Kia dealership on their way to look at a new BMW, Mercedes or Audi.
Any automaker runs a risk when throwing something completely new, especially something this pricey, up against established competitors that produce vehicles that drivers aspire to own. Remember the VW Phaeton of several years ago? It was super luxurious and drove beautifully but, unfortunately, didn’t sell very well because Volkswagen isn’t considered a premium luxury brand.
That being said, I will put such thoughts aside as I take a closer look at the K900. The exterior styling is quite appealing. The car is bold without being boxy but certainly stately enough to be taken seriously as a luxury sedan. The appearance of the sculpted front end is further enhanced by the distinctive lighting clusters. The K900 features LED headlights as well as LED positioning and fog lights. The light fest continues as LED perimeter lighting illuminates as I approach the vehicle.
Getting into the K900 takes a little getting used to. Well, actually you get into it the same way you get into any other car – you open the door and sit down. What I mean is that instead of an aggressive pull to close the bulky door once seated, I simply pull the door to a nearly closed position and the door completes the closing process automatically. Not really a feature I consider necessary or very practical, but I guess it is a nice little luxury extra that, if nothing else, will serve to impress passengers.
At first glance, a few things quickly become apparent to me. The interior is quite luxurious with Nappa leather seating and interior trim, the passenger compartment is very spacious and comfortable and, as I start the engine, there is a LOT going on in here. I feel like perhaps there should be some sort of training class and certification before attempting to drive this gadget-heavy vehicle.
There are controls on the steering wheel, a variety of knobs and buttons on the center console and, taking the place of a conventional shift lever, there is some kind of joy stick type device that you must push up while holding a side button for reverse, release the button and pull down for drive and push a button on top to put the vehicle in park. It does take a little getting used to. There are no actual gauges – the speedometer, tachometer and other gauges are animated images that appear on a 12.3-inch LCD screen in front of me as I start the car.
Shifting into reverse, an image on the vehicle’s 9.2-inch infotainment screen not only shows me what’s behind the vehicle via a back-up camera, but cameras placed around the perimeter of the vehicle provide an all-around view, almost as if a camera is pointed down from above the vehicle. Not only a clever concept, this multi-camera technology makes backing easier. Never rely solely on cameras for backing, but do use them as an extra set of eyes for added safety.
As I pull out onto the street and begin to accelerate, one of the strengths of this car becomes immediately apparent. The K900 is certainly not short on power. Under the hood, there is a 420-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Ok, all that power doesn’t scream fuel economy but it does provide a satisfying driving experience. Acceleration is quick, confident and smooth, with an emphasis on smooth because, after all, this is a luxury sedan and thus far it performs well as such.
I appreciate the head-up display that projects my speed on the windshield. I would like to say that this is a standard feature on the K900 but it is actually part of the $6,000 VIP package on my test vehicle which also includes such amenities as the aforementioned surround view monitor, front seat power headrests and – get this – power reclining rear seats. Speaking of seats, all cars have them and many nicer cars have heated ones, but the K900 has heated and cooled seats. Nice to know that even though my backside may be a bit sore after a long drive, at least it will be kept at just the right temperature.
The car handles well overall. It’s not quite as agile as a sport sedan, but one should not expect it to be. It has some of the features that you would expect to find on a high-end vehicle, such as traction control and electronic stability control. Cornering is fairly sharp and the ride remains smooth on just about any road surface I’ve encountered so far. Braking is quick and efficient thanks to the standard anti-lock braking system. There are four drive modes from which you can select to suit your driving experience – sport, normal, comfort and snow.
As I make my way from Santa Monica into Venice Beach, the car is really getting some looks and, since it’s such a beautiful day, I will push a button and take advantage of the panoramic sunroof. A nice feature in any vehicle, but it certainly adds to the luxury feel in the K900. The sunroof allows you to let a little sunshine in when desired, but there are also sunshades (a power rear window sunshade that lowers automatically for safety when backing and manual side sunshades) to keep the rays out.
I enjoy driving this car but, in a way, I wish someone else were driving today so I could luxuriate in the back seat. Rear seat passengers enjoy almost as much comfort and luxury as someone riding in a limo. The rear seating area is extremely spacious and the rear seat armrest has controls for climate adjustment and for the powerful (and awesome sounding) Lexicon Surround Sound Audio system with 17 speakers, an external amp and a bass-driving subwoofer.
Not only is the K900 comfortable, it has all the latest safety features to help one survive the drive. In addition to airbags throughout, the K900 features a blind spot detection system indicates when a vehicle is approaching on either side and there’s a lane departure warning system that alerts the driver if the vehicle starts to drift out of its lane. There’s even a rear cross traffic alert system that makes you aware of vehicles behind you when backing.
I really like this car. I think anyone who spends some time in it will like this car. Who wouldn’t? It’s quiet, comfortable and loaded with luxury features. Only time will tell if this is enough to get luxury sedan buyers to see past the badge and fall in love with this car. The gadget-oriented shopper probably will, while the European-leaning performance aficionado may detour another direction.
A less powerful, more fuel efficient V6 version of the K900 will roll into dealerships soon.
For more information on Kia products: www.kia.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2015 Kia K900 Price MSRP: $59,500 As tested: $66,400 EPA Fuel Economy Estimates (City/Highway): City / Highway: 15/23 Engine type 5.0-liter V8; Gasoline direct injection Horsepower 420 @ 6400 rpm Torque 376 @ 5000 rpm Transmission type: Electronically Controlled 8-Speed Automatic, Shift-by-Wire Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive Steering: Electro-Hydraulic Power Steering Brakes: 4-wheel disc brakes with antilock braking system Wheels: 19” alloy wheels with chrome finish Wheelbase: 119.9 inches Dimensions Overall length: 200.6 Overall width: 74.8 Overall height: 58.5 Curb weight: 4,555 lbs