Kia’s entry into the rear-wheel drive luxury sedan segment is a winner.
By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
Arlington, VA ? We decided to extend our stay in the Washington D.C. area recently after attending a new car introduction in the area. Although we?d both been to the area many times, we?d never actually played tourist.
We also hadn?t driven Kia?s latest and greatest, the K900, so we borrowed one to explore the District of Columbia and surrounding areas of Virginia and Maryland.
If first impressions count, the 2015 Kia K900 V-8 luxury sedan seemed like something we?d like to get to know much better. The full-size luxury sedan is very attractive, inside and out, and after spending several days exploring Washington D.C. sites we were impressed by the comfort and features.
The K900 is Kia?s first foray into the rear-wheel drive luxury segment in the U.S. and it now ranks as the brand?s flagship vehicle. The long low look is accented by a sweeping coupe-like roof line which flows back to the short rear deck. Beneath the powered trunk lid deck is a 15.9 cubic foot trunk, which worked well for our luggage for a week?s trip, but the size might be a detriment for potential use for the livery trade which usually requires more space. The rear fa?ade includes large LED powered taillights, which wrap well into to the rear fenders.
The K900 is fronted by a modified form of the Kia signature ?tiger nose? grille with a striking chrome inset pattern. At first glance it has a strong resemblance to Jaguar?s XF sedan, which might explain the many heads the car turned. The large headlight pods wrap around the front end from near the grille back and over part of the front wheel opening. Each pod contains two sets of unique square light enclosures with four led lights which combine to flood the road ahead with light. The headlights also turn with the steering wheel to illuminate where the car is turning. There are distinctive vents on the front fenders at the beltline, just in front of the doors.
The plush interior has large comfortable heated and cooled front seats, and an attractive, well-designed dash. Like most upscale models, the K900 is filled with soft leathers and real wood. The walnut trim extends from the dash to the center console and on the doors. There?s even an optional heated walnut trimmed steering wheel. We were particularly impressed by the large array of well-marked control buttons for all the vehicle functions. A second available interior design scheme uses white Nappa leather and poplar trim.
The interior is illuminated with LED lighting and the rear passenger compartment, which would be perfect for a livery or limousine service, include heated (also cooled on V-8 models) outboard seats, and a fold down center armrest with a covered control panel for the passenger to operate the rear sunshades and the rear climate controls. The V-8-powered K900 rear seats also recline independently and offer a power lumbar support and headrest.
Centered at the top of the control-filled center stack is a standard 9.2-inch (12.3 inch on VIP models) color screen, which is controlled by a large knob and buttons conveniently located just in front of the center armrest — just where the driver?s hand rests naturally. The screen is used for all the typical functions including the climate, audio, navigation and UVO telematics controls.
The available 900-watt Lexicon audio system is driven by a trunk-mounted 12-channel digital amp, 17 speakers and a subwoofer in the trunk. It?s a great audiophile system, but overkill for passengers like us. Of course, there is a full complement of audio support systems like Bluetooth?, HD radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, along with AUX and USB ports accessed beneath a wood-covered center console panel.
Kia planners added all the latest and greatest safety and driver aids to the K900 with available features like Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning and Smart Cruise Control. It also has rear cross traffic alert, front and rear park assist cameras along with a Surround View Monitor which shows a 360 view around the car.
The K900?s electronic safety arsenal includes an Advanced Vehicle Safety Management System which monitors the car through the Electronic Stability Control and a variety of other sensors to aid the driver by pre-pressurizing the brakes, activating the Pre-Safe Belt system or warning the driver through a series of alarms and warnings if a crash appears eminent.
Under the hood owners have a choice of V-6 (later in the model year) or V-8 power. The 420-hp V-8 in our test car is the new Tau DOHC all-aluminum 5.0-liter with Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) and continuous dual variable valve timing (CVVT) on both intake and exhaust sides. The engine drives the rear wheels through a new eight-speed automatic transmission which can be set for Eco, Normal or Sport driving. The settings also alter the electric steering sensitivity. The V-8 pushes the big sedan to a very respectable 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 5.5 seconds according to buff magazine test numbers. Fuel economy is rated at 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. We averaged 16.3 mpg which included multiple ?sloooooow? trips around Washington?s the famous Dupont Circle.
The standard K900 engine is a 311 hp, 3.8-liter Lamba V-6, which also employs the GDI and CVVT technologies and the eight-speed automatic transmission which steps the EPA estimated fuel economy up to 18/27 mpg.
The stiff body structure incorporates 75 percent high and ultra-high tensile strength steel which is then fitted with a sophisticated five-link fully independent front and rear suspension. The low profile tires on the V-8 models are wider in the rear than the front to increase traction and handling prowess.
Without our wide open winding mountain roads for testing and an abundance of full-size white sedans with light bars in most of the area we drove, our performance and handling tests were limited to onramps. The K900 is a great traffic car and provided all the features we appreciate on big luxury sport sedans.
The 2015 Kia K900 V-8 pricing starts at $60,400, including the destination charge, for the well-equipped Luxury model. The $6,000 VIP package adds a surround view monitor, active cruise control, 12.3-inch display, head-up display, and upgraded seats.
In addition to Kia?s industry best warranty program, the K900 also has a three-year 37,500 mile complementary scheduled maintenance program.
Perhaps the Kia K900 is not quite at the same level as the big-name German luxury sport sedans but it?s darn close and for tens of thousands of dollars less. This car makes a great deal of sense for someone who wants luxury, but doesn?t care about the status of a German name.